A key priority in South Africa is to improve safety of road users, and within this lies the need to encourage consumers who are engaged in buying new vehicles to choose safe vehicles. To enable this to progress, it is necessary to understand the extent to which new car buyers in South Africa currently prioritise vehicle safety features.
The research study aimed to investigate the factors that are important to consumers in the new vehicle purchase process and to assess the importance of safety in purchase decisions. Surveys were conducted with 176 recent car purchasers and 32 car salespersons in dealerships in Stellenbosch and Mthatha. The results showed that while private purchasers evidenced an interest in the safety performance of vehicles, overall both the individual safety features and the crashworthiness of vehicles were poorly understood. Reliability was the most significant factor for most buyers, with safety trailing behind other considerations such as cost and comfort. Most consumers relied heavily on information from dealerships to inform their purchasing decisions. Dealerships themselves were somewhat better informed about safety, but did not always convey this information to consumers, rather prioritising reliability, costs and other factors over safety performance.
Paper presented at the 35th Annual Southern African Transport Conference 4-7 July 2016 "Transport ? a catalyst for socio-economic
growth and development opportunities to improve quality of life", CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria, South Africa.