Researchers have found more than two thirds of cars on the Australian market fail to meet international standards on pedestrian safety.
The Centre for Automotive Safety Research at Adelaide University tested 33 models and found just six met the standards.
Centre spokesman Daniel Searson says there is no motivation for car makers to change their designs.
He says making improvements would help save lives.
“Twenty-eight fatalities per year would be saved by the introduction of the standard, about 1,000 serious injuries about 1,000 minor injuries and about $380 million in crash costs,” he said.
He says simple design changes could make a big difference.
“The clearance between the outer surface of the car and the stiffer, harder components underneath needs to be increased,” he said.
“So if you’ve got the engines sitting quite close to the bonnet, for example, if a pedestrian does strike the bonnet, the bonnet might deform but it comes into contact with that harder structure underneath.”