Safety body Euro NCAP has announced some big changes to the way it tests the crash protection of new cars.
The adaptions are what it calls the ‘biggest change to testing protocols in a decade’. The tests will focus more closely on in-car technology that assists drivers. They’ll also include new ways of looking at driver and passenger protection.
Euro NCAP decides the safety ratings given to most of the new cars you’ll see for sale – rating models from 1 to 5 stars. They’re currently ranked based on
- How well they protect adult occupants
- How well they protect child occupants
- How well they protect vulnerable road users (like cyclists and pedestrians)
- Their safety assistance technology (including autonomous emergency braking and lane keep assist)
These are the main changes being introduced later this year.
Looking at how cars collide with each other
In a bid to improve safety for everyone, Euro NCAP is introducing a new ‘moving barrier test’. This will look at the impact of a crash – not just on the car being tested, but on another vehicle or object. It’s designed to look at the impact of a larger vehicle colliding with a smaller vehicle, to help make sure manufacturers don’t just think about their own car’s occupants.
The test uses a moving barrier hitting the front of the car to the impact that the vehicle’s structure has on another object.
New side testing procedures
Euro NCAP says that side collisions account for a quarter of crashes, which is why they’re ramping up testing in this area.
The changes include adapting the severity of collisions with a moving barrier hitting the side of a vehicle to evaluate more extreme crashes. The changes in testing will also look at how the passenger and driver ‘interact’ with each other during a collision. Cars with airbags in the centre console will likely score well here.
Additional focus on driver assistance technology
Most new cars now come with multiple driver assistance features – such as autonomous emergency braking and lane-keep assist to prevent collisions happening in the first place.
Euro NCAP has been testing these for several years, but is making its crash scenarios more challenging to test the latest systems. New procedures include looking at emergency braking at junctions, especially when encountering cyclists and pedestrians. It will also look at rear emergency braking systems, which aim to prevent parking incidents.
One of the biggest changes this year is looking at post-crash safety, which Euro NCAP says “plays a big part” in saving lives.
The safety body is working with fire and rescue organisations to start rating vehicles for how safe they are after a crash.. The test will look at how emergency call systems (built into many new cars to automatically contact emergency services if a crash is detected), as well how easy it is to get someone out of a car after a collision.
Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham Research and Euro NCAP board member, said: “This is a new yardstick that vehicles will be measured against. We and Euro NCAP look forward to working closely with carmaker safety teams to drive towards strong results for these society-benefitting tests.
“The objective is to encourage makers of larger vehicles to share some of the burden of the impact with smaller vehicles. Historically SUVs and other big cars have offered very good protection to their occupants. However, the smaller vehicles they sometimes crash into can fare less well.”
“In the new compatibility test, if the larger vehicle is too stiff in an impact scenario, it will be penalised accordingly. This levels the playing field for all vehicle sizes, which is a win-win for road safety.”