IT is a requirement that every car sold in Australia will go to its new home with an approved – and published – safety rating comprising a series of stars with five the maximum.
The more stars, the safer the car and the better chance the occupants have of escaping serious injury if it is ever involved in an incident.
But what is crash testing and how are cars tested for their crashworthiness?
Effectively, crash testing is carried out in approved laboratory conditions with vehicles either crashed into each other or into a crash barrier at specific speeds and appropriate deflection angles.
The speeds and angles help engineers determine the amount of panel and substructure deformation occurs on impact and the potential injury to vehicle occupants.
Car makers globally build vehicles following a strict set of safety guidelines requiring all vehicles sold into each market to meet the existing standards which protect occupants from injury caused by suddenly protruding components or bodywork.
All motor vehicles sold in Australia have to conform to the Australian Design Rules (ADRs) which, among other things, require all panels to deform in a structured fashion that absorbs as much impact energy as possible but also requires cars to meet minimum standards covering braking, active safety (chassis and handling electronics) and secondary safety (airbags and seatbelts).
Vehicles tested are identical to standard production cars and are propelled during testing by a tow cable or electric trolley, allowing not only accurate speed use but also minimising the risk of a fuel fire caused by a damaged internal combustion engine.
Crash laboratories also use sophisticated crash test dummies to replicate human vehicle occupants. "Injuries" acquired by the dummies during testing and data taken form sensors fitted to them helps understand impact severity.
As well, each crash procedure is filmed by high-speed cameras; the footage later checked in slow motion to help examine each vehicle's behaviour during the crash sequence.
Crash tests in Australia include a head-on crash, a front offset test and a side impact test to evaluate deformation and damage during a ‘T-bone' style of crash.
Many car makers carry out their own in-house crash testing evaluations before vehicle production, ensuring that production cars meet a high crash standard when they go on sale but before they are tested.
A car maker, however, cannot apply its own crash rating number to its product. The star rating must be given by the approved body – in Australia that is ANCAP, the Australasian New Car Assessment Program.
Since 1993, ANCAP has published crash test results for over 840 passenger and light commercial vehicles sold in Australia and New Zealand.
ANCAP works in partnership with the Australian and New Zealand state and federal motoring bodies, Australian Federal, State and Territory governments, the New Zealand Government, the Victorian Transport Accident Commission, NRMA Insurance and the British-based FIA Foundation.
Sources in this article:
Want more stories?
Thanks! You have been subscribed successfully.