How safe is your car? A guide for New Zealand mums

Mother-to-be Hemma Vara is driven to find the safest ‘mum mobile’ for her precious new arrival
Pregnant woman driving the car

Currently in the third trimester of my pregnancy, I’ll soon be the chief protector of my newborn’s wellbeing and safety. So when purchasing a new car, I’ve considered factors like whether the pram will fit in the boot and which car seat capsules are best in the back. But the most important factor is the car’s safety rating.

Interestingly, research from NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi shows that while price, practicality and reliability top the list of considerations when buying a car, safety often gets overlooked. There’s some misconceptions about what makes a car safe. In reality, a safety rating is the best guide – and you’re twice as safe in a five-star safety rated vehicle than a one-star.

Only half of vehicle owners in Aotearoa are aware of their auto’s safety rating and this number decreases to 15% for owners of one- or two-star safety-rated vehicles. However, once informed about their vehicle’s true rating, an encouraging 95% expressed intent to purchase a safer set of wheels next time.

So how can you find out your car’s safety rating? In New Zealand, the safety rating system and were set up to make it easier for Kiwis to make an informed choice.

Almost every vehicle in NZ has a safety rating from one to five stars. The numbers indicate how well the vehicle is likely to perform in a crash.

Vehicles with four and five stars are the safest, while one- and two-star vehicles provide less protection in a crash.

The vehicle’s safety rating comes from one of three sources: ANCAP (Australasian New Car Assessment Programme), UCSR (Used Car Safety Ratings) or VSRR (Vehicle Safety Risk Ratings).

Thankfully, NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi makes it easy. The simplest way to check your vehicle’s safety rating is by visiting You can search by licence plate or by car make, model and year. The process is straightforward and quick, providing valuable facts and figures to help you make informed decisions about your future car.

As New Zealand mums, let’s place safety at the top of our car-buying considerations, making informed decisions for the sake of our families and ourselves. After all, when it comes to choosing a car, safety should never be assumed – it should be assured. Take a moment today to see how your current or potential future vehicle checks out.

Other car safety factors to consider

  • Check to see which crash avoidance features your vehicle has. 
  • Install the child’s car seat or capsule in the safest position possible, and see whether there is an ISOFIX attachment. 
  • Consider whether your existing car insurance also covers the car seat. 
  • Note that the car seat may require replacement if you’re in a car crash. 
  • Consider the size of your family. Can the back seat comfortably fit two to three car seats, depending on your needs? 
  • The placement of airbags and what this means for passenger positioning. 

Visit Rightcar to find safety ratings, plus other tips to help keep you and your loved ones safe on our roads.

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