Source: The Mercury, Thursday, December 1, 1994, p.8

Crash test critical of passenger van, 4WD safety laws

POPULAR four-wheel-drive 
and passenger vans are not as 
safe as family sedans, with up 
to a 70 per cent chance of 
serious injury or death to 
occupants in certain types of 
accidents, say researchers who 
released their findings 
   The New Car Assessment 
Program, operated by the New 
South Wales motorists' 
association the NRMA and 
the state Roads and Traffic 
Authority, used nine popular 
heavy vehicles to simulate 
full-frontal and off-set crashes 
into fixed objects and other 
   However, the Federal 
Chamber of Automotive 
Industries rejected the 
findings, saying the tests 
used speeds greater than the 
international standard for 
front-impact assessments, 
which was 48kmh, and were 
statistically unsound. 
   Chamber chief executive 
Ian Grigg said the faster speed 
of 56kmh used in the 
program, while only 8kmh 
above the international stan- 
dard, was enough to cause an 
increase of 36 per cent in 
crash energy. 
   "That dramatically 
increases the potential 
occupant-injury energy," he 
   Also, the method of testing 
did not reflect real-life 
accidents, he said. 
   The NRMA and the 
authority called on the Federal 
Government to bring forward 
the implementation of new 
safety standards for passenger 
vans and four-wheel-drives. 
   NRMA Community Rela- 
tions manager Ron Burnstein 
said the new safety rules for 
other cars were to start in 
1995-two years before the 
same laws would apply to 
heavier vehicles. 
   But NSW Transport Minis- 
ter Bruce Baird conceded: 
"Because four-wheel-drives 
and passenger vans are 
heavier than sedans, it is 
difficult to make direct 
comparisons in car-to-car 
crashes. Larger, heavier 
vehicles will usually come off 
best in a crash with a smaller 
   Under the test results, the 
risk of injury or death to 
drivers of certain vehicles 
was: Land Rover Discovery 
(63 per cent), Nissan Patrol 
RX wagon (56 per cent), 
Mitsubishi Pajero GLX V6 
(55 per cent) and Suzuki 
Vitara Estate JX (52 per cent). 
   The safest four-wheel-drive 
was the Toyota LandCruiser 
GXL with the risk to drivers at 
31 per cent and, to 
passengers, 13 per cent. 
   Of the passenger vans 
tested, the Mazda MPV LV and 
Toyota Spacia GXi had a risk 
factor of 69 per cent, Toyota 
Tarago Getaway Gli 67 per 
cent and Mitsubishi 
Starwagon GL 51 per cent. 
   The highest risk to 
passengers in both vehicle 
types included the Suzuki 
Vitara (65 per cent), Nissan 
Patrol (63 per cent), Toyota 
Tarago (40 per cent) and 
Mitsubishi Starwagon (33 per 
   Along with the LandCruis- 
er, the safest vehicles for 
passengers were the Land 
Rover Discovery and 
Mitsubishi Pajero (16 per 

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