One of the most important features of any car is the level of protection offered to its occupants in a crash. It is therefore essential that car buyers are able to make an informed choice about the levels of protection offered by cars on the market.
Through its involvement in the Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), RACV has been conducting vehicle crash testing and publishing the results for over ten years.
New cars cannot be sold in Australia without demonstrating a minimum level of occupant protection. This is governed by the Australian Design Rules (ADRs) and all car-makers must perform their own crash testing to prove compliance. However improvements in vehicle design and developments in safety technologies such as airbags mean that most cars now provide levels of protection well above this required minimum.
For this reason ANCAP conducts more severe crash tests and assessments than required by the ADRs. For example, ANCAP frontal offset tests are conducted at 64 km/h, compared with 56 km/h for the ADR.
An ANCAP crash is a highly complex and technical test, so to make the results easy to interpret ANCAP assigns a star rating as an overall assessment of a vehicle’s occupant protection. This rating is based on numerous measurements to crash test dummies in three separate types of crash test for each vehicle. These are the ‘offset frontal’, ‘side impact’ and the optional ‘pole impact’ crash tests. Measurements of vehicle deformation are also taken in account. A vehicle that complied only with the minimum ADR requirements would receive a low ANCAP rating.