New Direction For NCAP
Top crash test group Euro NCAP has revealed plans to expand its operation – and it won't involve destroying more cars!
The next phase in its quest to convince makers that safety sells will be to judge vehicles on their ability to avoid an accident in the first place – a radical departure from just assessing how well they perform in an impact.
The additional tests will concentrate on areas such as braking, visibility, lights, handling and even ergonomics.
Keith Rogers of Euro NCAP told us: "These tests have always been part of how we wanted to develop our rating procedure. Over the past six months we've been in meetings with the car industry discussing how to come up with a suitable assessment programme for these primary safety devices. One of the problems is that it's easy to identify the things that need looking at, but it's very difficult to establish a satisfactory way of testing them."
Brake tests could include cornering to see how well stability control systems work, and may lead to ABS being fitted as standard on all cars – something Auto Express has called for repeatedly during our own vehicle safety testing reports. Visibility checks will look at how A, B and C-pillars affect the driver's view, while ergonomics would rate how comfortable and supportive the driving position is.
Experts reckon the change in direction could see the NCAP star ratings of many popular models changed, possibly for the worse. That's because independent accident avoidance trials won't have been considered during each vehicle's design. Also, cars which don't have features such as ABS or traction control as standard across the range could be penalised and see a drop in their rating.
A spokesman for the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said: "Any tests that recognise the improvements in safety car firms are making would be welcomed." No date has been set for the adoption of the measures, but it's hoped they will be included in the rating within the next 12 months. Scientists at the Berkshire-based Transport Research Laboratory, where many of Euro NCAP's crash tests are carried out, are currently looking at the best way forward. Martin Sharp
Article from: Auto Express