The Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) is a new vehicle safety rating based on a five-star score, where five stars are the highest safety rating and zero starts the lowest. Cars assessed with a safety rating of five stars are the safest cars on Australian roads.

To get a five-star rating, a car must pass several stringent crash tests, along with a comprehensive assessment of all the safety features provided with the car, including collision avoidance, driver monitoring and pedestrian safety technologies. For car manufacturers, these safety features add costs to building a new car, but they also can be a strong marketing tool when their car is awarded the highest rating, five stars.

The car-buying public is also concerned about safety, and they expect that new cars are safe, and many buyers will choose a car based upon the safety rating. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and many buyers still decided to buy cars with a lower star rating. The Ford Mustang only received a three-star rating when tested, but it didn't stop it from being bought in records numbers. Some people like their V8's, irrespective of how safe they might be.

But what about cars that get a zero-star rating? Surely you would not expect them to be sold in Australia? The Mitsubishi Express van recently received a zero-star rating and is still on sale in Australia. The van failed to prevent the driver from being ejected from the vehicle, along with concerns about the poor airbag locations that could increase the risk of injury to drivers' chest and neck.

There is a concerted push to have zero-star rated new cars banned from sale. The consensus is that despite the collective efforts to improve road safety, unsafe cars are still being sold.

A minimum star rating is an excellent place to start if the government is serious about road safety. Not allowing any car to be sold with a star rating of three or less would ensure those car manufacturers get their act together and only sell safe cars in the Australian market.