January 2018 marked a very important time in the history of the Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP) as the testing programme fully aligned with Euro NCAP. The two safety organisations have adopted a common approach to testing new vehicles, as well as integrating policies and assessment processes. This has resulted in an overhaul of current testing processes and the addition of extra requirements in order to get that important 5-star safety rating, so you can be assured your new vehicle has been rigorously tested.

A change to the scoring system sees the previous “best out of 37” tally replaced with the Euro NCAP model of four ‘pillars’ of safety performance. These four important areas of assessment are: Adult Occupant Protection, Child Occupant Protection, Vulnerable Road User Protection (including pedestrians and cyclists), and Safety Assist which includes active safety technology such as Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Lane Support System (LSS) and Speed Assistance Systems (SAS).

For the first time in ANCAP history child protection has been added to the testing process. Child dummies the size of a six year old and 10 year old are included in the frontal offset and side impact crash tests by being seated in appropriate child restraints in the vehicles’ second row of seats. These Q-Series dummies offer a more sophisticated assessment of smaller, younger occupants and allow effective injury risk ratings to be obtained.

Testing protocols have also been revamped and improved. ANCAP has added a 50km/h full-width frontal impact test, a 250kg increase in mass for the side impact test (from 950kg to 1300kg), a new and tougher oblique pole impact test and the implementation of new and improved crash test dummies,  including female dummies.

Test cars are piloted remotely to keep car speeds consistent across the assessment, while the tests themselves look at all driver assist elements including city, highway and so-called ‘vulnerable road users’ (VRU); Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB); Lane Departure and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. The test scenarios are conducted day and night at city and highway speeds against stationery, moving, and braking vehicle targets.

The VRU test process sees full-scale pedestrian and cyclist dummy targets (the size of an average adult and seven-year-old child) used in testing of AEB. The articulated pedestrian dummies– with moving arms and legs - simulate a pedestrian walking across the street. The cyclist dummy target is similar, where the dummy is seated on a bicycle and propelled to cross in front of the test vehicle.

Each of the four test areas have a maximum score available for each assessment which combines to give an overall score. For example, for a vehicle to receive a 5 star safety rating in Child Occupant Protection, the vehicle must achieve a minimum of 80% (Max score 49). 

In 2020 we’ll see another increase in the maximum available Safety Assist score criteria from 13 points to 16, with an increase focus on AEB interurban systems and the addition of a Junction Assist test.  

ANCAP now date-stamp each new assessment with the year of the test and give 6 years for the tested model’s rating to remain “current”. This should encourage manufacturers to present an updated model before the ANCAP rating expiry. Existing test ratings for previously-released models will not be retrospectively re-scored in line with the new criteria.

The ANCAP mantra is to eliminate road trauma through the testing and promotion of safer vehicles. These changes make up part of a continually evolving process for safer vehicles to be introduced onto our roads and thus provide protection to those both inside and outside of the vehicle.

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