What makes a vehicle safe? Is it a huge number of airbags, clever brake systems and stability control, or is it just down to making sure the person at the wheel is doing the right thing?

Unfortunately it's a combination of these things. Crashing cars, no matter how clever their technology, or how well they've been put together, is not an exact science - and the same goes for crash and safety rating systems.

This week, the AA and its Aussie equivalents released their used car safety ratings, for which Monash University specialists drilled through data covering more than 15 years of crashes in New Zealand and Australia.

It's interesting to see some of these results, especially the way they differ from Australasian New Car Assessment Program crash ratings which have become the default quantifier for vehicle safety.


Europe and the US are going safety crazy - and rightly so - with new technology, including auto braking systems, teetering on the edge of becoming compulsory on new cars. I'd like to see features such as stability control phased in as legal requirements.

But as we persevere with a lack of compulsory insurance for drivers, the biggest safety feature we have is the knowledge that anyone else on the road could crash into you and not pay up.

This weekend, Kiwi freestyle motocross star Levi Sherwood is heading to Germany as part of the mega-popular Red Bull X-Fighters series.

The 20-year-old is leading the table as it heads into this penultimate round, and if he wins again he'll be pocketing $1.3 million for his performance over the series. Check out nzherald.co.nz/driven to see how the high-flying rider fares - we'll have video from the event, and hopefully some good news to go with it.