ANCAP Safety Testing

ANCAP Safety Testing


Through it’s safety rating program, the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) provides consumers with independent advice and information on the level of occupant and pedestrian protection provided by different vehicle models in the most common types of crashes.

ANCAP was established in 1993 and was modelled on the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) which was introduced in 1979 by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Since that time, ANCAP has published safety ratings for over 425 vehicles.

Today there are nine organisations under the umbrella of ‘Global NCAP’ in several regions around the world, all working to provide consumers with car safety information to assist in their purchasing decisions relating to vehicles that are available in their respective markets.

All of the Global NCAP crash test programs operate under internationally recognised protocols, however the assessment and safety rating systems do vary from market to market. The vehicles themselves also may vary, even within the same make and model, in terms of their specification and crashworthiness across the markets. It is therefore always advisable to refer to your specific market’s information when researching car safety ratings.

For example, all Subaru ANCAP safety ratings are obtained from crash tests conducted under the control of ANCAP only on Australian specification vehicles. This means that you can be absolutely sure that the vehicle that was tested has the same safety equipment and body construction specification (i.e. right-hand drive) that is available for sale in Australia.

ANCAP Safety Ratings

The relative level of safety of one vehicle to another is represented by a star safety rating system, one-star being the lowest and five-stars being the highest level of protection for occupants and pedestrians. Occupants have twice the chance of being killed or seriously injured in an ANCAP one-star rated vehicle compared to an ANCAP five-star rated vehicle1.

In all of the tests, carefully calibrated instrumented dummies are used to measure the level of potential injury to the front occupants in a crash. The resulting data is logged and then assessed using internationally recognised protocols and points are allocated after the crash tests. Points are also awarded for safety equipment including Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and seat belt reminders and safety assist technologies. To achieve the highest five-star rating the vehicle must achieve a total points score of 32.5 or greater out of the 37 points available.

All vehicles are tested and assessed under identical standards and conditions so that the only variable is the crash performance of the vehicle. The ANCAP safety rating therefore is a scientifically valid crash performance comparison of one vehicle to another.

The Crash Tests

The level of safety is determined from the result of five crash tests performed by independent specialist laboratories.

Frontal Offset Crash Test

The frontal offset test simulates a real world crash situation of colliding with another vehicle of similar mass travelling at the same speed of 64 km/hr. The vehicle crosses the centre line and forty percent of the car on the driver's side impacts the oncoming vehicle.


Side Impact Crash Test

The side impact test simulates a real world crash situation of two vehicles that collide at ninety degrees with the approaching vehicle travelling at 50 km/hr. This is typical of a vehicle running a red light resulting in a ‘T-bone’ impact in the middle of the vehicle that has ‘jumped’ the red light on the driver’s side.


Pole Impact Crash Test

The pole impact test simulates a real world crash situation where a vehicle loses control and slides sideways colliding with a fixed object such as a tree or pole, impacting at a sideways speed of 29 km/hr. The impact is in line with the driver’s head and because the pole is relatively narrow, major penetration into the side of the vehicle occurs.


Pedestrian Test

Pedestrian tests are performed to estimate likely head and leg injuries to pedestrians struck by a vehicle at 40 km/hr. Pedestrian strikes by oncoming vehicles represent about 15% of fatal accidents in Australia.

Whiplash Test

The whiplash test assesses the likely risk of head and neck injury to vehicle occupants. Whiplash testing is conducted in two parts: a geometric measurement and a dynamic test using the vehicle seat mounted to a test sled which simulates a rear-end crash equivalent to a stationary vehicle being hit at 35 km/hr.

Crash Test Speeds

At first reading it might appear that the crash test impact speeds are low but they 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. Any increase in speed has a significant effect on the risk of serious injuries to the occupant, due to the energy of impact increasing exponentially with increase in vehicle speed. Therefore even a small increase in vehicle speed e.g. 10km/hr can turn a survivable accident into one that results in serious injury or even death.

The mark of a well performing vehicle in a frontal accident is one that initially absorbs the energy of the impact force by the progressive crumpling of the body structure. The remaining energy should travel around the occupants leaving the passenger compartment largely intact with all four doors remaining closed, but able to be easily opened after the accident to allow escape from the vehicle.

In side impacts, due to less space being available to absorb impact through crumpling of the body structure the body has to be particularly strong to minimise intrusion into the passenger safety cell. The worse case is impact with a pole due to the narrow area of impact through which the majority of the impact energy is directed. This results in significant penetration of the body structure even in the best crash performing vehicles.

Suffice to say that speed is a major factor in road traffic trauma and it can’t be stressed enough that compliance with speed limits and more importantly driving at a speed suitable for the prevailing conditions is of utmost importance in the reduction of road fatalities.

Click here to view the ‘New Impreza – Journey to Five-stars’ video

Click here to read about Subaru safety technologies and features

1Source: ANCAP


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