Crash test dum­mies live on

Federal fund­ing boost will en­sure the in­de­pen­dent safety author­ity keeps car mak­ers on their toes

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Comment - JOSHUA DOWLING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING EDI­TOR Twit­ter:@JoshuaDowl­ing

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.”

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