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NCAP Safety Scores Explained

By: Sally Aquire - Updated: 27 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Ncap Safety Ratings Safe Cars Safety

If you're confused by NCAP safety ratings, you're not the only one. Here's the low-down.

What are NCAP Safety Ratings?

NCAP stands for National Car Assessment Programme. This involves testing the safety of individual car models. You can access the European NCAP safety ratings by visiting www.euroncap.com.

Why are the Tests Carried out?

They provide car buyers with significant information to help them choose the best car.

Car models are legally obliged to pass particular safety tests before they can go on sale. The role of Euro NCAP is to persuade car manufacturers to go beyond these minimum safety requirements to make cars safer to drive.

Euro NCAP has a vital role in improving car safety. Improvements have contributed to a decrease in the number of fatal road deaths in the last decade.

What do the Tests Involve?

Front Impact Tests
  • At 40 mph, a car crashes into a collapsible barrier.
  • This speed is used as accident studies have found it to be the impact seed in a vast proportion of serious car accidents.
  • Dummies are used to calculate the safety of front-seat passengers.
Side Impact Tests
  • At 30mph, a trolley with a collapsible front is ploughed into the driver's side of the car to recreate a side-on collision.
  • Dummies are used to gauge the safety of the driver.
Pedestrian Impact
  • A collection of tests are conducted to imitate 40 mph collisions featuring pedestrians.
  • Simulated body parts are used to imitate the crash situation.
  • The sites of impact are then graded as weak, satisfactory or good.
Pole Tests
  • Around 25% of serious or fatal road accidents involve side-on incidents - usually one vehicle hitting another side-on.
  • Pole tests are designed to persuade car manufacturers to install head protection equipment. They involve fitting such equipment before performing the test.
  • Side impact head airbags create padding for the head area and reduce the chances of travelling through the car window.
  • A car is thrust forward at 18 mph into a fairly narrow pole, causing plenty of damage to the side of the car.
  • Without the side impact head airbags, a fatal head injury is a distinct possibility.

How Are The Injury Risks Compiled From The Test Results?

A number of factors are involved, including information from the crash test dummies, high-speed film footage and expert investigation of the crash test scene.

Modifications are made to accommodate larger or smaller drivers and passengers.

Is NCAP Successful?

Car manufacturers are much quicker to improve their safety devices nowadays, in line with NCAP`s safety test results.

Can Car Manufacturers Just Meet The Minimum Safety Requirements?

Car manufacturers can't just meet the safety criteria that is specified in the Euro NCAP safety tests.

The Euro NCAP tests serve mainly as a target which needs to be exceeded.

Where Are The Tests Carried Out?

They are conducted at various locations in Europe, including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK.

What Euro NCAP Safety Rating Should I Look For?

The safest cars for those who intend to drive with children are those with a 5-star children protection rating. For adults, a 5-star adult protection rating is best. These are both the maximum marks out of five.

For pedestrian safety, a 4-star protection rating is the highest that can be achieved.

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