On the news last night, there was a segment on the Accident Compensation Corporation's proposal to reduce ACC levies for people owning cars that the Corporation has rated as being the safest. Their assessment is based on a system that measures how well a vehicle protects its occupants in the event of a crash.
This policy is illogical on so many levels it's hard to know where to begin. For a start, driving a safe car does not make one less prone to crashing. In fact, I have it on good authority that some Volvo owners drive like maniacs because their cars have the safety ranking of a Main Battle Tank. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, it provides a saving for people who can already afford the best and newest cars, and discriminates against those who can't. This point wasn't picked up on TV3 news but it was on National Radio this morning during an interview with Clive Matthewson, the editor of a motoring journal, who focussed on the proposal's inherent unfairness.
To test my theory on cost, I checked a US website on the world's safest car. At the top of the medium-sized and "moderately" priced category sits the Audi A3. In New Zealand one of these beauties bought new will set you back $48,400 plus ORC. If you owned one of these, the savings you would make to your ACC accident levy - according to the proposal - wouldn't cover the cost of filling up, whereas $100 in the pocket of a low-income household could really make a difference to on-road costs.
How can ACC get away with even proposing this policy? If it has the healthy surplus it claims to have surely it should be spent on extending services to claimants, who often have a terrible time getting ACC to even partially fund treatment for their injuries. After all, the purpose of paying levies is to help cover the cost of treatment in the event of an accident, not to subsidise people who can afford cars with the latest safety technology. I am not even sure the proposal would stand up to Bill of Rights scrutiny.
Anyway no car is safe. Even the most careful driver behind the wheel of the safest car is not immune to injury or causing injury. In terms of the individual, surely the safest cars are those that do not collide with our own.