ANCAP: Safety under the stars

18th Dec 2012 by Admin

Crash Test Dummy What do the stars on an ANCAP rating mean? What rating should you look for when buying a car? We explain everything you need to know about ANCAP, as well as a few fun facts.

What is ANCAP?

ANCAP stands for the Australasian New Car Assessment Program, which oversees independent crash tests on cars that are sold in Australia. ANCAP awards a star rating from one to five, depending on how the car performs in the tests.

Cars that receive a five-star rating, such as the Audi A6, achieve the highest international standards across all test criteria. So the more stars a car receives, the safer it is.

What does ANCAP measure?

ANCAP uses test dummies to see what happens to the car’s occupants in a crash. It then analyses the data and ranks the car according to the five-star system.

Each car endures four internationally-recognised crash tests, undertaken by independent test laboratories. Tests include the frontal offset test and side impact test, which are two of the most common collisions:

  • Frontal offset test: traveling at 64 km/h, the car strikes an aluminium barrier on the driver’s side
  • Side impact test: a 950kg trolley hits the driver’s side at 50 km/h

A separate test can be undertaken to see how well a car protects pedestrians in the event of a crash. The car travels at 40 km/h and strikes a dummy pedestrian, measuring potential head and leg injuries.
Car manufacturers can also elect to have a pole test performed on cars that have head-protecting airbags.

How are the results measured?

Each car receives a score out of 37; it must score at least 12.5 in each of the frontal offset and side impact tests, and an overall score of at least 32.5 to receive a five-star rating.

Bonus points are awarded if the car has the following features:

  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS): this prevents the car’s wheels from locking when pressure is applied to the break.
  • Seat belt reminders: these alert passengers to buckle up before driving.
  • Airbags: five-star rated cars have front, side, curtain and knee airbags for optimum safety.
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC): if the driver swerves to avoid an obstacle, the ESC steps in and puts the car onto a safer, straighter line.

Two points are also allocated if the car performs well in the pole test.

What role do the test dummies play?

While they might be called dummies, the test models are anything but. Their high-tech components allow them to experience dozens of crash tests and demonstrate what the driver and passengers endure in a crash.

Two types of dummies are used – the Hybrid III (for frontal impact) and the EuroSID II (for side impact). Let’s take a closer look inside the Hybrid III:

  • Head: the internal accelerometers are set at right angles to measure impact to the brain.
  • Neck: devices measure any tension, bending or shearing on the neck, which might occur when the occupant’s head is thrown forward and back in a crash.
  • Chest: equipment inside the steel ribs record any potential chest injuries.
  • Arms: since cars can’t protect passengers from arm injuries, the arms don’t contain any recording devices.
  • Legs: cells inside the legs measure potential injury to the thighs, knees, pelvis and hips. Devices are also installed to measure bending, compression, tension and shearing to the legs in a crash.

What do the colours on the dummy diagrams mean?

When assessing a car’s ANCAP rating, take a look at the colours on the dummy diagrams. Red or brown is a ‘poor and weak’ result, indicating a high risk of serious injury or death arising from that injury.

Why choose a five-star rated car?

According to ANCAP, occupants in a one-star rated car are twice as likely to be killed or seriously injured, compared to those in a five-star rated vehicle.

As well as advanced safety features, a five-star rated car has superior structural integrity. This means that it protects occupants by absorbing and dissipating the force of a crash. There is little movement inside the car, while the doors are kept closed and are able to be opened after the crash. Still wondering if a five-star rated car is worth it? The answer is in the stars.

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