Consumer information

What is consumer information?

Consumer information provides prospective car buyers with factual information about the safety performance of cars in crashes and encourages manufacturers to introduce evidence- based safety designs beyond legislative norms.


In recent years, safety is increasingly marketed by car manufacturers and a variety of methods for rating car crash safety are used to provide impartial information which can guide car buyers. These methods fall into one of two broad categories: predictive systems and retrospective systems.

What are predictive rating systems?

Predictive systems aim to assess a car's safety performance before it is used on the road. The predictions are based on controlled whole car crash tests of individual models; tests of components of the car which have been proven to be important in crashes; and/or visual inspections and rating of the interior of cars. For example, the European New Car Assessment Programme (EuroNCAP) provides star ratings of the performance of different cars in state of the art frontal impact tests using an offset deformable barrier, a side impact test and pedestrian protection sub-system tests based on those devised by the European Enhanced Safety of Vehicles Committee. The European programme also uses visual inspection in addition to crash testing in determining the safety rating assessment. Monitoring shows that EuroNCAP has contributed to marked improvements in crash protective design to protect vehicle occupants with crash tests which are generally representative of the types of crash scenarios found on Europe’s roads [110] [76]. The European Commission believes that EuroNCAP has become the single most important mechanism for achieving advances in vehicle safety. Car manufacturers use EuroNCAP star ratings in their advertising e.g. Renault. Example of a EuroNCAP crashtest

What are retrospective rating systems?

In retrospective systems, safety ratings are based on the actual performance of cars in real crashes. Such ratings are of particular value for used cars buyers. The frequency and severity of injury to car occupants in individual model cars are determined by examination of police crash statistics and/or insurance injury claim data. Examples of retrospective systems are the Folksam Safety Rating System (Sweden); The VALT Safety Rating System (Finland); The Department for Transport Rating System (UK). Although the general principle of this approach is the same for all systems, there are many differences in the exact methodology.


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