Euro NCAP uses 20th anniversary to reflect on vehicle safety progress

12.00 | 7 February 2017 | | 4 comments

Euro NCAP says more than 78,000 lives have been saved as a result of its crash safety tests, first introduced 20 years ago last week.

In a press release issued on 2 February to mark the occasion, Euro NCAP says it has published more than 630 safety ratings and crash-tested 1,800 cars.

Thatcham Research says the ‘ground-breaking’ work of Euro NCAP has helped oversee a 182,000 reduction in the number of KSI car occupant reductions since 1997.

Backed by the UK Government, the first Euro NCAP crash test results were revealed on 4 February 1997. Until then, car makers only had to meet basic legislative crash test requirements for new cars, the results of which were not published.

The first tests exposed ‘hidden dangers’ in top-selling family cars, forcing a fundamental rethink in the way vehicles were designed to prevent injuries and save lives.

Safety technologies that were non-existent or optional at best in 1997 – such as driver and passenger airbags, side protection airbags, belt reminders and electronic stability control – have since become standard on all cars sold in Europe.

To underline the advances in vehicle safety that have been made over the last two decades, Euro NCAP has published the results of two crash tests (featured image) involving two family cars built 20 years apart.

In 2018, a number of new technologies will feature in Euro NCAP testing, including: lane assist systems to control steering if there are potential risks; tests to reduce crashes at junctions; pedestrian AEB that works at night time; and new AEB cyclist detection tests.

Michiel van Ratingen, secretary general of Euro NCAP, said: “Euro NCAP’s programme of safety tests has achieved major, life-saving improvements in cars and has helped Europe reach the lowest road fatality rate for any region in the world.

“Recent years have shown a slowdown in the progress rate, however, so we mustn’t take our foot off the gas. We want to ensure that Europe’s roads get even safer in the next 20 years, not just for car occupants but for all participants in traffic.  

“We already test many more aspects of a car’s safety than we did when we started in 1997, and that is set to continue. Next year, we will test systems that recognise and avoid crashes with cyclists, and we’re lining up a very challenging roadmap for 2020 to 2025.”




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    Following Pete’s comment, I do wonder how much consideration the typical buyer gives to NCAP ratings and whether it would overide their other considerations when choosing. They must presume, as I would, there to be a minimum level of safety, on any car in terms of braking systems, vehicle integrity etc. anyway, but perhaps not be too bothered if some of the features listed in the article e.g. lane assist systems, are not present at all. I suspect the consumer may rather value and be influenced by style, luxury features, practicality, ease of driving etc. and take ‘safety’ – however defined or rated, as a given.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    This article is a timely reminder that when we make a purchase we have a choice of vehicle and then a secondary choice of features. So what a pity that there is not an iota of regulation in how these choices are explained to the consumer. Just imagine how much safer we would be if consumers were given more information to make more informed choices. There’s probably more legal requirement about explaining the power consumption of a kettle!

    Pete, Liverpool
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    While Euro NCAP rightly deserves praise for its efforts to improve safety for vehicle occupants, it has not caused anything near the same results when it comes to looking after pedestrians and cyclists. Those vulnerable road users make up a large proportion of those killed and seriously injured on our roads, but car makers are less caring about them. Come on Euro NCAP, do something for this needy group.

    David, Suffolk
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    From the penultimate para: “…… we mustn’t take our foot off the gas”. An unfortunate choice of metaphor perhaps.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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