Mobility and transport

In-car safety

The opinions expressed in the studies are those of the consultant and do not necessarily represent the position of the Commission.

In-car safety

Since the US NCAP programme started, the NHTSA report there has been around a one-third reduction in the probability of a life-threatening injury in NCAP passenger cars as measured by controlled crash test results. In recent years NCAP light vehicle performance has led to about a 25 per cent reduction in the calculated probability of AIS 4 or above injured [12][13]. In Australia, research has also indicated a good correlation between ANCAP testing and the retrospective crash data in terms of injury risk and injury severity [22].

Monitoring has shown that together with key legislative provisions, Euro NCAP has had a significant influence on the way that cars are designed [11]. Cars with three or four stars are approximately 30% safer, compared to two star cars or cars without an Euro NCAP score, in car to car collisions [19]. In the last decade, crash data had confirmed that a 50% reduction in the risk of serious injury has been achieved in new car models [SARAC II] . The European Commission stated in 2000 that EuroNCAP had become the single most important mechanism for achieving advances in vehicle safety [5].

While car manufacturers were initially very hostile to the development of EuroNCAP, several now use star ratings in their advertising e.g. Renault. One of the many claims by industry was that the assessment criteria were so severe that no car could achieve four stars, for occupant protection. However, from July 1997, results indicated a steady stream of cars meeting this level of safety. In June 2001, a further milestone was reached when the Renault Laguna became the first car to be awarded 5 stars for occupant protection. Although other cars were awarded 5 stars later, it was suggested that the requirements were too severe for a supermini. However in November 2004, the Renault Modus became the first supermini to gain 5 stars. Standards have increased to the extent that cars typically achieve this rating and increasingly manufacturers see 5 stars as the goal for all their new models Euro NCAP, 2007. As the Chief Executive of Fiat stated at EuroNCAP's 10th Anniversary, "Not only Euro NCAP has been instrumental in bringing forward concrete safety advances, but it has also managed to instil a consideration for safety in the minds of consumers and to effectively change their patterns. The European Automobile Manufacturers are proud to be associated with this initiative, and we warmly congratulate all involved in Euro NCAP for their good work, for their dedication, for their achievements".

Pedestrian protection

At the same time, the car industry's response to pedestrian protection, however, has been very poor and is only expected to improve when the new legislation comes into force. To date, only one car has been awarded 4 stars in the pedestrian protection tests, and less than 7% of cars tested have achieved 3 stars.