Front Impact Test
Frontal impact test is based on that developed by European Enhanced Vehicle-safety Committee as basis for legislation, but impact speed has been increased by 8 km/h.
Frontal impact takes place at 64kph (40mph), car strikes deformable barrier that is offset.
Side Impact Test
Impact takes place at 50kph (30mph). Trolley fitted with a deformable front is towed into the driver's side of the car to simulate a side-on crash.
Readings taken from dummy are used to assess the protection provided for the driver.
Pedestrian Impact Test
A series of tests are carried out to replicate accidents involving child and adult pedestrians where impacts occur at 40kph (25mph). Impact sites are then assessed and rated fair, weak and poor. As with other tests, these are based on European Enhanced Vehicle-safety Committee guidelines
Accident patterns vary from country to country within Europe, but approximately a quarter of all serious-to-fatal injuries happen in side impact collisions. Many of these injuries occur when one car runs into the side of another.
To encourage manufacturers to fit head protection devices, an optional pole or head protection test may be performed, where such safety features are fitted. Side impact head airbags help to protect the head by providing a padding effect and by preventing the head from passing through the window opening.
In the test, the car tested is propelled sideways at 29kph(18mph) into a rigid pole. The pole is relatively narrow, so there is major penetration into the side of the car.
In an impact without the head protecting airbag, a driver's head could hit the pole with sufficient force to cause a fatal head injury.
Typically a head injury criterion of 5000 is possible, five times that which indicates the likelihood of serious brain injury. In contrast, the head injury criterion in these new crash tests with a head protection airbag is around 100 to 300, well below the injury reference value. A side impact airbag with head protection makes this kind of crash survivable despite the severity.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How were the tests arrived at?
The test procedures are based on those developed by the European Enhanced Vehicle-safety Committee (EEVC) for legislation, except the front impact speed is increased by 8 km/h so as to cover accident severity leading to most deaths and serious injuries. The pole test is based on standards developed in the US. Cars designed to do well in the Euro NCAP tests should offer improved protection in a wide variety of road accidents.
2. What tests do Euro NCAP perform?
There is a front impact test at 64 km/h into an offset deformable barrier, a side impact test at 50 km/h, a side impact pole test at 29 km/h and tests with pedestrian head and leg forms at 40 km/h.
3. Why not carry out a wider range of tests?
It is for manufacturers to design and test cars to meet the full range of accidents. The Euro NCAP tests cover an important range of accidents. A well-designed car will perform well in the Euro NCAP tests, and one that does badly will have shortcomings.
4. Why have you chosen such a high front impact test speed?
By carrying out frontal impact tests at 64km/h (about 40 mph) we are simulating a car to car impact where both cars are travelling at about 55 km/h, a speed shown by accident studies to address a high proportion of fatal and severe injury accidents.
5. How is the injury risk to car occupants determined from crash data?
The injury risk is assessed using a number of sources including data from the dummy's instruments, examination of the high-speed film and examination of the car by crash investigation experts. As there is no instrumentation to measure injury risk in certain areas, adjustments are also made to take account of other potential dangers, including those to different sized occupants. The Euro NCAP assessment protocol is then applied to arrive at the rating for each body region.
6. Are the barrier tests repeatable?
Yes. The repeatability of the test procedure was fully investigated in research by the EEVC.
7. Has the safety assessment for children changed?
Yes, Euro NCAP has introduced a separate star rating for child protection from November 2003. A car model will now be shown with a star rating for adult occupant protection, a star rating for child protection and a star rating for pedestrian protection. The child protection rating is for a combination of a car with specific child seats that have been recommended by the car manufacturer. The combination can now earn up to five stars for child protection. The rating depends on the fitting instructions for the child seats, the carís ability to accommodate them safely and their performance in front and side impact tests. However, there are important limitations to this rating, which are:
ē The child protection rating cannot be used for the car alone, nor can it be used for the car with a different combination of child seats.
ē The tested child seat alone does not have a child protection rating.
ē The same child seat tested in combination with other cars may give a different child protection rating.
This new system of scoring for child protection encourages car manufacturers to take responsibility for the carriage of children. However, whatever the child protection rating, it is essential that children are always carried in child restraints.
8. Why are some cars tested with certain safety features when others are not?
Euro NCAP policy is to test the best selling version of a car model with the safety features which it has as standard in all 15 EU member states, at the beginning of 2004, or those member states into which the best selling version of the car is sold. If a manufacturer has optional equipment which is important for safety, they are allowed to pay for an additional test with the optional equipment. When rating the car Euro NCAP use the scores obtained by the 'standard' car in the tests.
9. What is a Seat Belt Reminder and how does it influence the star rating?
A seat belt reminder system is a system alerting the driver by means of sound and visual indications when a seatbelt should be worn. The reminder signal should be loud and clear but not annoying. The target is to remind people, who accept the benefits of the seat belts, that they have not fastened their belt. The points awarded for systems that meet the protocol requirements are added to the overall points score which in turn generates the occupant protection star rating.
10. Who are the partners in Euro NCAP?
The Euro NCAP consortium currently includes the governments of Catalonia, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom, motoring organisations represented by the FIA Foundation and ADAC, European consumer groups represented by ICRT and British Insurers represented by Thatcham.
11. What is the main purpose of Euro NCAP?
Firstly, it makes information about a carís comparative safety rating in its class available to car buyers.
Secondly, it acts as an incentive for manufacturers to improve the safety of their cars. This would represent a significant benefit in injury reduction for both car occupants and vulnerable road users.
12. Why not use legislation to improve safety?
Legislation sets a minimum compulsory standard whilst Euro NCAP is concerned with best possible current practice. Progress with vehicle safety legislation can be slow, particularly as all EU member Statesí views have to be taken into account. Also, once in place, legislation provides no further incentive to improve. Euro NCAP provides a continuing incentive.
13. How will you know if Euro NCAP has been effective?
Euro NCAP has been responsible for a dramatic change to overall car safety. This is readily seen in how quickly manufacturers improve their safety equipment and the steps they take to do well in the tests. Real world injury studies carried out by SNRA (Swedish National Roads Aministration) and SARAC (Safety Advisory Rating Committee) demonstrate a reduction in injury risk for every Euro NCAP star received.
14. Wonít the design features necessary to ensure good front impact performance inevitably be detrimental for pedestrians?
No. The strength of the structure to give good frontal impact does not need to be on the outside of the car body. Detailed design of the bonnet structure and the position of hard structures underneath give good pedestrian performance. The two are not incompatible or mutually exclusive.
15. Wonít manufacturers just design their cars to pass Euro NCAP tests?
No, manufacturers have to design and test their cars to meet many more safety issues than are tested in the Euro NCAP tests. However they do use the Euro NCAP procedures as an in house target/standard for those aspects that we test.
16. What do the manufacturers think about Euro NCAP?
They believe that if such tests are to be carried out, the work should be undertaken in an objective way by an independent expert organisation. There is a general acceptance that Euro NCAP has been responsible for improving overall safety standards. Euro NCAP conducts a regular dialogue with the motor industry, discussing technical issues.
17. Are manufacturers involved in the tests?
Each manufacturer is told of the choice of car, variant and options. Preferably vehicles for the tests are acquired anonymously but if this is not possible they are randomly selected. Manufacturers are asked to provide test set up information, to recommend child seats and to make any general comments. They are invited to witness the tests and to say whether they are satisfied with the way the test is run. After the test, they are given the test results and invited to comment on any anomalies when compared with their own data.
18. Will the rating system change in the future?
The Euro NCAP procedures evolve continuously to take account of new developments.
19. Are these results being specifically sent to Insurance Companies/Car Hire firms/fleet buyers?
The results are not specifically sent to any organisation as they are now easily accessable on the Euro NCAP website.
20. Are large cars safer than small cars?
In frontal impacts between cars, the occupants of the heavier car or the one with higher structures tend to fare better than those travelling in lighter lower cars. As these effects are currently impossible to overcome, Euro NCAP only makes comparisons within size categories. The rating of a car within its size category is a function of the quality of its safety design.
21. Can results be compared between groups?
Results should only be compared within the same group. The frontal testing method mirrors a crash between two similar sized cars. A heavier car or one with a higher structure will tend to have an advantage if it impacts a smaller car. The Euro NCAP results cannot be used to predict the outcome of such crashes
22. What effect will the results have on car design in the future?
In general terms, there should be a trend of cars becoming safer for both occupants and pedestrians as manufacturers incorporate appropriate safety features into new car designs. Since the Euro NCAP programme began, significant improvements have been observed.
23. Do you tell manufacturers what changes are needed to get better results?
The test reports indicate the areas where improvements would provide safety benefits. However, it is not for Euro NCAP to tell manufacturers how to design their cars. If manufacturers wish to take action on the basis of the results, they are the ones who fully understand the design of their products and are best placed to decide how any improvements could be made.
24. Which of the cars tested would you buy?
Although safety is an important factor, there are other factors that have to be taken into account when buying a car. In terms of choosing safety, start by deciding on the size and kind of car required then look for the best performers in that group.
25. Why are Points published as well as the Star rating?
The star rating does not show the relative performance between front and side impact. To show if there is a mis-match between front and side performance we publish the points for each test as well as the total.
26. Which of the cars tested is the safest?
For adult occupant protection a 5 star performance in the tests is clearly the most impressive. The safest cars for pedestrian protection have achieved 3 stars.
27. What does a half a star indicate?
The car is awarded adult occupant protection stars based upon the number of points scored in the frontal and side impact tests. Where a star is a half a star, this is done to highlight concern that there is a serious risk of life threatening injury in at least one vulnerable body region - these regions being head or chest for frontal impact and head, chest, abdomen or pelvis for side impact.
28. Is it better to buy a car awarded with 2.5 stars or a 2 star car?
The strike through of the last star indicates that in the tests a vulnerable body region sustained a risk of severe injury. However, the number of stars is calculated on a cars overall performance and therefore three stars are better than two.