Young drivers are being urged to buy the safest cars they can afford, as statistics reveal an "alarming proportion" of deaths in older cars.
Young regional drivers are 15 times more likely to be killed or injured in crashes involving older vehicles than the state average.
The number of young drivers (18 to 25 years old) dying on Victorian roads has increased this year, with the majority driving older cars without key safety features at the time of their death.
Since 2011, 16 young drivers have died on roads across the region - Ballarat, Hepburn, Golden Plains, Pyrenees and Moorabool - while driving a car older than 10 years.
Older cars without safety technology can increase the risk of being involved in a crash and also means there is less protection in the event of an incident.
Transport Accident Commission (TAC) research shows that of all road users, young drivers are the least likely to consider safety features when buying a car.
Often they buy a car based on the design of the car and entertainment features.
In an effort to raise awareness of the importance of safety features, the TAC has launched a new campaign called 'How safe is my....'.
It includes a series of videos featuring a driver accompanied by a partner, family member, friend or pet in their car, with viewers asked to 'think of the ones beside you'.
The campaign prompts people to visit the TAC's How Safe is Your Car website, which provides free and independent safety information about new and used cars and allows users to search for cars based on their budget.
Users can also input their registration number to find out how safe their car is.
The features to consider when purchasing a car are curtain airbags for head protection, traction control, anti-locking braking systems (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC).
Other features which are recommended and widely found in newer models are intelligent speed assist (ISA), auto emergency braking (AEB), advisory speed alert technology, lane departure warning, Lane Keep Assist and seatbelt warnings.
Most newer models are equipped with these features and there are options for all budgets.
Young Ballarat driver Ebony Howes recently purchased a 2015 model Mazda CX3.
Several reasons factored into her purchase, but the biggest was the safety features.
"I bought it because I know Mazdas are a good mechanic car, are quite good with fuel and have so many safety features that I find very beneficial.
"I also absolutely love the look of it as well," she added.
She mainly drives around Ballarat, but also enjoys longer drives which mean taking the highway.
While still on her L-plates, she is eager to sit her driving test to obtain her licence when she turns 18 in October.
When she does obtain her probationary licence, she said she would feel much safer driving on her own with all of the safety features in her car.
"[There is] the person telling me when I am over the speed limit or the vibrations when I go too far over the lines on the road.
"The reverse cameras are probably the best thing about it and the orange lights when a car is in my blind spot are helpful as well.
"It's a very good car and I feel very safe when I drive it."
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Ebony knew what she wanted and when she saw the car for sale she "just grabbed it". She hopes to be driving the car for years to come.
"I didn't want a car that would just last me a few years, I wanted a really good first car so it would last me longer," she explained.
Encouraging drivers to buy the safest car they can afford is a high priority of the Victorian Government's Road Safety Strategy, which aims to halve road deaths and significantly reduce serious injuries by 2030 and achieve zero road deaths by 2050.
Through the Road Safety Strategy and Action Plan, the government will trial a $6.9 million incentives program to help young drivers access safer vehicles to get up to 1,000 older vehicles off the road.
The incentives aim to help younger drivers purchase newer and safer cars, not removing "the beloved classics".
The government is currently analysing feedback from more than 2000 Victorians, alongside road safety data and evidence-based research, which will help to shape the new incentive program, including the amount of the incentives that will be offered.
The program will be targeted to "where it's needed most", with eligible young drivers in regional Victoria to be invited to take part in the program later this year, under criteria currently in development.
TAC Chief Executive Joe Calafiore said putting young people in older cars increased their risk of being seriously injured or dying in a crash.
"It's time to value safety over things like gadgets and leather seats and get young drivers behind the wheel of the safest car they can afford."
A Road Safety Victoria spokesperson said young regional drivers were overrepresented in road crash statistics.
"...Which is why we are helping them make the switch to safer, newer vehicles.
"Purchasing the safest vehicle could be the difference between life and death for young drivers, or even avoiding a crash altogether.
Purchasing the safest vehicle could be the difference between life and death for young drivers, or even avoiding a crash altogether.
"Technology has evolved over time and modern life-saving safety features are now common in newer cars, which is why our program aims to help young drivers access them while removing unsafe vehicles from Victorian roads."
Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Ben Carroll, added that the days of buying or handing down an old car to a young driver were over.
"We're asking young people to think not only of their wellbeing but the safety of their mates, partners or parents whose life is in their hands when they are behind the wheel."
There has been a three per cent decrease in the number of deaths on Victorian roads this year compared to the same time last year and it is well below the five year average.
Data from the first half of the year reveals the biggest contributor to the reduced number of lives lost on the state's roads has been due to less deaths in regional Victoria.
There have been 61 deaths in the regions, which is less than last year and well below the five-year average.
The young driver vehicle safety campaign will run across social media throughout July.
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