2019's safest (and not-so-safe) entry-level cars

Some improvements on entry-level safety – but more must be done, says AA…

This year’s Entry-Level Vehicle Safety Report, published by the Automobile Association, revealed that while there have been some improvements to the safety features on some models, much more can still be done to improve on others.

The 2019 report considered the safety features of 27 vehicles available in South Africa currently priced under R180 000. This is 12.5% increase from the threshold in the previous report to account for an increase in inflation.

The ELVS Report must be seen against the backdrop of South Africa’s official road fatality statistics. According to figures from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) 12 921 people died on South African roads in 2018. Although this represents an eight percent decrease on the 2017 figure of 14050, the number remains high, and must be seen in the context of an average road death rate of over 13 000 fatalities per annum in South Africa.

While efforts to reduce this number are ongoing, it must also be seen in light of the growing vehicle population in South Africa which, according to the RTMC, stands at more than 11.2 million vehicles in 2018, of which more than 7.3 million are classed as motor vehicles.

“We highlight again that these two figures – the high fatality rate, and the high vehicle population – demonstrate the need for safer driving. Apart from road safety initiatives, we believe people buying motor vehicles must consider the safety rating and safety features of the vehicles they are considering,” notes the AA.

The purpose of the ELVS research is to highlight the importance of safety features in new cars, understand how these features can save lives, and encourage new car buyers to consider safety in their decisions, and not only price.

“Price is, unfortunately, a driving factor in people’s decisions to buy vehicles. What we would like to see more of is people considering other elements of the vehicles they intend buying such as safety features, which can mean the difference between life and death,” the AA says.

The Association notes this is especially important as many of the people who are buying or driving entry-level vehicles are often those with the least driving experience and, as such, this makes safety features even more critical.

The 27 vehicles surveyed for this instalment of the Entry-Level Vehicle Safety Report were evaluated against the number of active safety features they have (anti-lock braking systems, electronic stability control), and passive safety features (airbags).

The 27 vehicles are then categorised into three groups based on their safety ratings according to the AA survey. These cars are noted for having either:

  • Acceptable Safety
  • Moderate Safety
  • Poor Safety.