Of all the vehicles tested by ANCAP, which is the safest?
The test results do not prove which is the safest car in all types and severities of crashes. ANCAP evaluates the likelihood of serious injury for drivers and front seat passengers involved in frontal crashes and side impact crashes. As a guide, consumers should look for vehicles that have earned at least 4 stars.
What proportion of total serious injury and fatal crashes does ANCAP represent?
A Monash University report confirmed that frontal crashes make up approximately 60% of total serious and fatal injury crashes. ANCAP includes side impact crash testing. After frontal crashes, side impact crashes make up the next highest number of serious injury and fatal crashes. At an international level, NCAP programs are under constant review to ensure that they best meet the needs of consumers. It is possible that other types of crash tests will be introduced in the future.
How well does ANCAP testing compare to real world crashes?
Analysis undertaken by the Monash University Accident Research Centre has shown that there is a good correlation between the ANCAP crash test results and the vehicle's actual real world performance as measured in the Used Car Safety Ratings. International studies have shown cars that perform better in crash tests provide better occupant protection than vehicles that perform poorly in crash tests; A US study found a driver is 74% less likely to die in cars rated good than cars rated poor in car to car head on crash of two cars of similar mass. A Swedish study also found cars with three or four stars are approximately 30% safer than cars with two stars.
ANCAP crash testing by a joint government/automobile association group was a world first. ANCAP has harmonised test procedures with the European NCAP group (Euro NCAP), which also conducts offset frontal barrier crash testing and side impact crash testing. The side impact crash test is also conducted in Japan but at the higher speed of 55km/h.
Is the frontal offset test and resulting interpretation of results unique to ANCAP or is it used elsewhere in the world?
The frontal offset test, including the barrier structure, test protocol and assessment protocol, was developed by Euro NCAP. The test is internationally recognisedand is used for both consumer test programs and for regulatory standards.
An almost identical offset frontal test, conducted at the lower speed of 56 km/h, has been included in Australian Design Rule ADR 73/00. This is applicable to new model passenger cars first sold in Australia from 1 January 2000. All passenger cars sold in Australia from 1 January 2004 need to meet ADR 73/00.
Why doesn't ANCAP test for rear end collisions?
Severe rear collisions are relatively rare and usually involve being struck by a much larger vehicle. Frontal crashes and severe side impacts account for most car occupant fatalities. That is one reason why ANCAP concentrates on these crashes for its occupant protection star rating. With a limited budget extra tests, like a severe rear impact test, that destroy a vehicle are difficult to justify.
The University of Adelaide recently published a report on this topic.
ANCAP is considering the recommendations of that report and may soon begin publishing a whiplash rating, based on tests of vehicle seats. Well-designed seats may reduce the risk of rebound injuries where the driver is thrown forward and strikes the steering wheel, after the initial impact from the rear.
Airbags are designed to be supplementary restraint systems. They work in conjunction with seat belts to reduce the risk of injury to occupants. Airbags do not trigger in some low-severity crashes where the seat belt offers sufficient protection. Also they are not usually designed to deploy in rear crashes.
If the speed was increased in all your tests what would be the effects in each test?
Speed of impact has a large effect on the risk of serious injury to occupants. Even a small increase in impact speed (eg 10km/h) could turn an easily survival crash into one where occupants have a high risk of serious injury.
The ANCAP crash test speeds represent the higher end of real-world crash speeds. For example, the frontal offset crash test is conducted at 64km/h. From real-world (US) data, more than half of all fatalities to seat-belt-wearing drivers in frontal crashes occur at impact speeds under 55km/h. We need to address these fatalities, as well as considering higher impact speeds and 64km/h is considered a good balance.
ANCAP involves the crash test of just one vehicle under one set of conditions. Is it true that there can be a large variation in the test results of the same vehicle model?
All vehicle manufacturers are familiar with the NCAP test procedures and scoring methods. Some have claimed that it is unfair to base the assessment on just one vehicle for each test and that there are several sources of variation.
The test laboratories used by NCAP organisations are subject to strict quality control procedures. One purpose is to keep variations due to the test conditions to a minimum. If some manufacturers still consider that there is large variability in the test results (and this has not been shown to be the case) then they have the options of allowing for such variability in the design of their vehicles. After all, the tests are intended to be used for comparing vehicles - there is no "pass/fail" that would prevent the vehicle being sold in Australia.
ANCAP purchases vehicles for its testing that would otherwise have been bought by members of the public.
Manufacturers are invited to witness ANCAP tests of their products and comment on the results before they are published. If manufacturers have conducted NCAP type tests during product development, they will know whether the official ANCAP results are in line with their own results and can comment accordingly prior to the public release of the ANCAP results. Some manufacturers have provided their own test results and there have been useful discussions between the manufacturers and ANCAP. Other manufacturers have simply provided feedback that the ANCAP results agree with their own in-house tests.
If a large, heavy sedan and a small, light sedan both receive five stars and the same ANCAP scores, is the large sedan safer for the occupants than the small sedan?
It is not appropriate to compare ANCAP ratings across vehicle categories, particularly if there is a large weight difference. The reason is that in car-to-car crashes, the heavier vehicle has a theoretical advantage (due to the physics of the crash). Similarly, a higher ride height might be an advantage in a car-to-car crash. However in single vehicle crashes, such as with solid fixed objects, the weight might no longer be an advantage. So it depends on the type of crash. Also some small cars do remarkably well in crashes with larger vehicles as they have very strong passenger compartments and advanced occupant restraint systems and these features make up for the mass disadvantage.
Is it better to have a small car with a 5 star rating or a medium car with a 4 star rating?
It is not appropriate to compare ANCAP ratings across vehicle categories, particularly if there is a large weight difference. The reason is that in car-to-car crashes the heavier vehicle has a theoretical advantage (due to the physics of the crash). Similarly, a higher ride height might be an advantage in a car-to-car crash. However in single vehicle crashes, such as with solid fixed objects, the weight might no longer be an advantage. So it depends on the type of crash. Also some small cars do remarkably well in crashes with larger vehicles as they have very strong passenger compartments and advanced occupant restraint systems and these features make up for the mass disadvantage.
ANCAP insists on a good result in its side pole test for a 5 star occupant protection rating. This requires head-protecting side airbags or curtains. A 4 star medium car might not have this life-saving technology. ANCAP recommends that people choose a 5 star vehicle.
Can ANCAP results be used to compare the relative safety of the vehicles tested?
ANCAP results can be used to compare the protection offered to occupants in the event of a severe frontal and side crashes for vehicles of similar size and weight. Care must be taken when comparing results for different vehicles as only those vehicles of similar mass can be correctly compared. As a heavier vehicle will generally provide better protection in a collision with a smaller and lighter car, any result comparison should be restricted to cars of a similar class. To assist with the comparison, ANCAP publishes the kerb weight of the cars tested.
In what year did Australia adopt the European crash testing standards?
ANCAP began testing and assessing vehicles in accordance with the Euro NCAP protocols during 1999. The first ratings were published in November 1999: Daewoo Leganza 2 stars, Holden Vectra 3 stars, Hyundai Sonata 2 stars, Mazda 626 3 stars, Subaru Liberty 4 stars and Volvo S40 4 stars (a pole test and 5 stars were not available at that time).
The first ANCAP tests were conducted in 1992 and published in 1993.
Why doesn't ANCAP rate the protection of children in car crashes?
ANCAP conducts crash tests according to the same protocols as those used by Euro NCAP. These require two child dummies to be restrained in child restraints in the rear seat for the frontal offset crash test and the side impact crash test. However, due to fundamental differences in the types of child restraints use in Australia, ANCAP does not currently publish a child occupant rating like the one published by Euro NCAP. Amongst other things, the dummies do not give a realistic indication of injury risk for a child secured in a 6 point harness that is built into a forward facing child seat with a top tether (as required under the Australian Standard). ANCAP is looking at developing a more appropriate rating system for Australia but that is some time away.
For optimum protection, selecting an appropriate child restraint for the child is probably more important than car safety features or performance in ANCAP tests. There is a separate program for assessing the performance of models of child restraint on sale in Australia. It is recommended that you look at advice published by the RACV. There's also more information about child restraints and injury risk in the National Transport Commission report.
Can a compact or sub compact car protect you in a side crash with a much larger car like a 4WD?
The main risk to the occupants of a small car struck in the side by a high, heavy vehicle like an 4WD is severe head injury. It has been found in real-world crashes that head-protecting side airbags, such as inflatable curtains, do a remarkably good job in these circumstances (see for example, the research by the US Insurance Highway). That is one reason that ANCAP insists on a good result in its side pole test for a 5-star occupant protection rating.
Does ANCAP have any data on stopping distance at certain speeds?
ANCAP does not conduct braking tests and has no official information about stopping distances. This federal department report may be useful.
Why doesn't ANCAP provide some quantitative information regarding dynamic safety?
ANCAP ratings are primarily concerned with the ability of the vehicle to protect the occupants from injury in the event of a severe crash. Most of ANCAP's budget is currently allocated to crash-testing and there are always new models to be considered. It would take a major increase in ANCAP funding to provide the resources for dynamic handling tests. There are some braking and handling tests that are conducted by government organisations in Japan (JNCAP) and the USA. However, they are expensive to conduct and do not appear to be particularly relevant to Australian conditions.
How safe it is to drive lightly damaged vehicles fitted with airbags that haven't gone off?
It is suggested that you contact Vehicle Standards at the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government and ask to be subscribed to the "Emergency Rescuer's Guide to Vehicle Airbags".
If a driver is short and sits close to steering wheel, would it be safe to have an on/off switch installed for the driver airbag?
The airbags in Australian cars are much less aggressive in the manner in which they deploy than the early types of airbags that caused some problems in the USA. In addition, manufacturers check for safe airbag deployment for a wide range of driver sizes when developing occupant restraint systems. The airbag is designed to assist the seat belt in a severe crash and greatly reduces the risk of serious head injury. It should never be disabled. In any case, the state registering authority is the appropriate authority to contact about vehicle modifications.
Which are safer: inertial reel seat belts or webbing grabbing seat belts for a car without airbags?
Most inertial reel seat belts already have an in-built webbing grabber to reduce the amount of webbing "payout" in the event of a severe crash so there may not be much difference between the two systems. More importantly, there are much better advanced features of seat belts that you should consider - pretensioners and load-limiters.
However if you are looking at buying a car then it is recommended that you only consider models with a 4 or 5 star ANCAP rating. There are no cars without airbags that achieve this and, in general, the risk of serious injury in one of these older models is at least twice that of a 4 or 5 star car.
Is the metal body thickness of any car a factor considered in crash testing and does the thickness have any influence on the results of a crash?
Modern car designs have a very strong passenger compartment combined with structures that are deigned to crush in a controlled manner. Exterior body panels have very little influence on these structures (see the research reports published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
These days the structural components of cars, such as roof pillars, are very carefully design and may use sandwiches of metal of different properties for optimum performance. It is important that any repairs to these components use the same materials so that the original structural performance is maintained.
Is it true that airbags only deploy based on the deceleration of a vehicle and that they may not activate in some low-severity collisions?
Airbags are designed to be supplementary restraint systems. They work in conjunction with seat belts to reduce the risk of injury to occupants. Airbags do not trigger in some low-severity crashes where the seat belt offers sufficient protection. Vehicle manufacturers go to considerable effort to determine the optimum conditions for deploying the airbags. Airbags do not deploy under heavy braking just prior to a crash but some luxury models are able to detect an imminent crash and prime the airbag firing mechanism to speed up deployment once the crash commences.
What is the difference between ANCAP safety ratings and the Used Car Safety Ratings?
ANCAP is Australasia's leading independent vehicle safety advocate, providing comparative ratings on how different vehicle models protect occupants and pedestrians in the most common types of crashes. ANCAP undertakes a number of internationally recognised crash tests and publishes vehicle safety results using a 1 to 5 star rating system. The more stars, the better the vehicle performed in ANCAP tests.
ANCAP crash tests are performed on new vehicles entering the Australasian market and are selected based on a variety of factors including the popularity and volume of vehicles sold. ANCAP's test program also aims to highlight exceptionally good or poor performers, and to represent new manufacturers entering the market.
The difference between the ANCAP (new) ratings and UCSRs (used) lies in the way in which the ratings are determined. ANCAP safety ratings are determined based on data obtained through the simulation of common crash scenarios undertaken in a controlled laboratory, whereas UCSRs are determined through the analysis of crash statistics (police reports etc.). ANCAP safety ratings demonstrate a vehicle's level of occupant and pedestrian protection whereas UCSRs provide a crash rating for the driver only (with a secondary indication of vehicles that provide a higher level of protection for other road users).
UCSRs apply to used vehicles manufactured from 1996 to 2010. ANCAP safety ratings apply to new vehicles, and with ANCAP testing having been in place since 1993, a significant number of vehicles tested by ANCAP form part of Australia and New Zealand's used car market. Both ANCAP and UCSR provide ratings for a similar range of vehicle categories.
Does the fitment of bullbars (manufacturer endorsed or otherwise) to a vehicle affect its ANCAP safety rating?
ANCAP does not test vehicles with bullbars fitted but research tests have shown that a bullbar can adversely affect performance in the ANCAP frontal offset test - increasing the risk of injury to occupants. In modern vehicles, the front crumple zone is usually an optimum design for this severity of crash and a bullbar can change the crumple characteristics away from this optimum.
The fitting of bullbars also increases the potential risk of injury to pedestrians. From 2012, the ANCAP Road Map sets out minimum requirements for pedestrian protection in order for a vehicle to receive an overall rating of 5 stars ("high seat" vehicles (e.g. dual cab utilities) do not have to meet this until 2014). Vehicles with bullbars are unlikely to meet pedestrian test standards and therefore are unlikely to achieve a 5 star safety rating.
Does the installation of an internal rollbar / rollcage affect a vehicles ANCAP safety rating?
ANCAP does not test vehicles with rollover protection systems (ROPS) fitted but research tests have shown that ROPS can increase the propensity for a vehicle to roll by raising the centre of gravity. ROPS can also prevent the deployment of airbags - greatly increasing the risk of serious head injuries - and may not eliminate roof crush in vehicle rollovers.
Internal ROPS may also prevent rearward displacement of the driver seat in a strike from the rear. Modern seats are designed to respond in a controlled manner to reduce the risk of whiplash injury. This can be adversely affected by an internal ROPS. There may also be a risk of head injury from contact with the ROPS during a crash. This applies to rear seat occupants as well as the driver and front passenger.