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ANCAP vehicle safety ratings best guide for car buyers

The AA says new car buyers should not discount the value of a 5-star Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP) safety rating attached to smaller cars despite the release of new information that suggest occupants face more risk in some crashes.

Fresh crash test information from the United States-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows drivers of small cars are more exposed to the risk of serious injury or death despite the use of high tech safety features.

The results show that some smaller new cars fail to protect occupants in a small frontal overlap crash.

This crash test differs significantly from those conducted by ANCAP and other new car assessment programmes, including one of the IIHS’s own.

ANCAP’s crash tests mimic a head-on collision with an object or another car while the IIHS small frontal over crash is similar to hitting a pole or tree with the corner of the car at speed.

AA Motoring Services General Manager Stella Stocks says IIHS test creates a real world situation, but it misses the vehicle’s front-end crush zone, which absorbs impact and provides occupant protection.

“ANCAP tests occupant protection in a type of very common crash, which is a frontal offset which is what you’d usually see when two cars travelling in opposite directions collide,” Ms Stocks says.

“The safety rating produced is based on crash test performance which shows how well an occupant in specific crash conditions would fare and also on a range of active safety assist technologies (SATs) that help prevent crashes.

“A vehicle that performed well in a crash test would not get a maximum 5-star safety rating from ANCAP if it didn’t have electronic stability control, for example.”

Ms Stocks says motorists will usually be safer in a larger car in most circumstances.

“That’s just physics, but all new cars have never been as safe as they are now. The most important thing is to buy the safest car you can afford. A car with a high safety rating is better than one with a low rating.”
Ms Stocks says the ANCAP safety rating system provides the best guide to assess which new car provides the highest level of protection in all price ranges and all types of vehicles, including utilities.

Used Car Safety Ratings, assembled from analysis of more than 6 million vehicles in police-reported crashes in New Zealand and Australia, are also available.


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