The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ (SMMT) latest figures show that by the 31st March, 372,401 new cars had been registered through the scrappage scheme, accounting for 19% of all new cars bought over the last ten months.

The initiative has now finished and much has been written recently about the various pros and cons of the scheme, particularly surrounding its overall environmental impact. However, in my mind there is one very real benefit for all motorists and that is having almost 380,000 newer, safer vehicles on our roads.

Convincing grey fleet drivers to give up older, potentially less safe vehicles is an ongoing challenge for fleet managers and hopefully the scrappage scheme has given some of them the incentive to do so. We don’t know how many of these 380,000 vehicles are being used for driving on business but it must be a significant amount.

According to the SMMT, compared to ten year old vehicles, new cars now have higher Euro NCAP ratings, more safety technology as standard and improved security features. Manufacturers have fitted anti-lock braking systems as standard since 2004 and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) devices are widely available throughout model ranges.

If you were to look at a fifteen year old car, it wouldn’t even have a Euro NCAP rating as the scheme was only introduced in 1997. That really shows how far safety technology has come in our cars – now manufacturers are striving to get the full five stars with every new model they launch.

This is demonstrated by the fact that the SMMT says that the following technologies have all been introduced in the last ten years, although they aren’t of course standard in all vehicles:

Developments to airbags

Lane departure warning

Collision Mitigation Braking System

Intelligent Parking Assist systems

Autonomous cruise control / Adaptive cruise control

So it seems to me that a scrappage scheme that has encouraged hundreds of thousands of drivers to replace their cars with safer vehicles that have better occupant and pedestrian protection must be heralded a success, for bringing safer technology to our roads if nothing else.

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