Crash test dummies live on
Federal funding boost will ensure the independent safety authority keeps car makers on their toes
NOT all cars are created equal. In some countries, well-known European brands sell cars without airbags even when they are available with six airbags or more elsewhere.
That’s where our own crash test safety authority, the Australian New Car Assessment Program, comes in.
Car buyers will continue to get access to world-class safety information after the Australian watchdog received a $2.2 million federal funding boost.
The future of the independent car safety authority was under a cloud — some makers questioned its relevance once automotive manufacturing in Australia comes to an end in 2017.
The European brand that led the charge against ANCAP had the most to hide: two of its latest cars lack rear airbag protection and would score poorly according to current criteria.
European crash safety authorities are poised to close the loophole in 2016.
Australia’s car safety boffins have already tightened the regulations, having noticed some brands introducing cars without rear airbags. Older ANCAP rules did not explicitly require this fitment.
Supported by 23 members — including the roads and traffic authorities in each state and territory, road service providers, insurance companies and New Zealand road safety bodies — ANCAP was established in 1992 to give car buyers more detailed information about vehicle safety.
ANCAP does not have the power to prevent a vehicle going on sale but its more robust test measures make it the default standard by which cars are judged.
With Australia becoming a destination for cheap Chinese and Indian cars, ANCAP has played a key role in highlighting safety shortcomings.
“Cars are made to different standards around the world and we want to make sure Australia continues to get the safest cars for our conditions,” ANCAP chief executive Nicholas Clarke says.
Chairman Lauchlan McIntosh adds: “As more and more imported cars enter our market, the continued role of ANCAP as the only independent organisation providing detailed safety comparisons is essential.”
ANCAP, which preceded Euro NCAP, is now developing standards to test safety assistance and crash avoidance technology, such as the automatic braking City Safety system pioneered by Volvo.
“ANCAP is here for the long haul,” Clarke says.
“First and foremost is our commitment to give car buyers detailed safety information about new vehicles.”