AA Buyer's Guide: safety never sleeps
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Before a new car is sold in Australia or New Zealand, more often than not it will be tested by the Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP) to determine exactly how safe it is.
Following the 2018 adoption of common crash test protocols and policies in conjunction with Euro NCAP, updates take effect every two years. The start of 2020 presented us with some fresh changes to the ANCAP testing process:
- The number of physical crash tests has increased from five to eight, with far-side impact tests being introduced for the first time. This measures occupant-to-occupant interaction in the side impact test.
The benefit is to encourage Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to fit countermeasures to reduce injury risk (centre airbag) from lateral strikes caused from the front driver and passenger making contact with each other in the event of a crash.
- There have also been changes made to the configuration of the frontal offset and side impact tests, including a switch from a static Offset Deformable Barrier to a Mobile Progressive Deformable Barrier. The test speed has been reduced from 64km/h to 50km/h, but the severity of the crash has increased as both the vehicle and barrier travel at 50km/h. This simulates a more accurate representation of a head-on vehicle collision.
- Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) performance testing has expanded to include AEB Junction (car-to-car) and AEB Backover/Reversing (car-to-pedestrian), with automatic emergency steering testing introduced as part of the car-to-car AEB test.
This assesses the vehicle’s ability to assist the driver in safely steering into a clear adjacent lane, if AEB cannot provide sufficient avoidance. It also assesses avoidance of oncoming vehicles and those travelling in the same direction.
- Driver monitoring has been introduced.
The benefit is that it observes driver attentiveness/fatigue using cameras with facial recognition and/or driver vehicle inputs like acceleration, steering and braking.
- To assist with post-crash response, OEMs are required to provide standardised vehicle safety information/Rescue Cards. These must highlight the location of in-vehicle hazards; fuel lines, high voltage batteries, airbag inflators, seatbelt pre-tensioner inflators and vehicle gas struts. A Rescue Cards app (ANCAP Rescue) will be developed and will be accessible to all emergency services at no cost. Meanwhile, automatic door unlocking and multi-collision braking now becomes a requirement.
This has been introduced to assist first responders.
With the goalposts changing every two years, manufacturers are constantly being pushed to improve safety of their new cars to obtain that all-important five-star ANCAP rating. This is why it’s important to not only assess a car by its rating, but also when it was tested and the requirements for that test.
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