Each year, the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) releases updates to its comprehensive ratings system. These ratings reflect increasing expectations in vehicle safety, so a 5-star rating this year is likely to signal an improvement over the same rating from a previous year. ANCAP has just released its testing and rating criteria for 2023 which demonstrate an exciting broadening of scope when it comes to vehicle safety systems.
Pursuing passive and active approaches to safer driving and vehicles
As the independent vehicle safety authority for Australia and New Zealand, ANCAP, applies a star rating to all new vehicles which reflects the level of safety each vehicle offers. This is an important way to help consumers understand and compare the relative safety when purchasing a new vehicle. ANCAP groups its ratings into passive features, which focus on how well the vehicle protects its occupants in a collision and active systems that help to avoid collisions in the first place.
What’s new from ANCAP for 2023
ANCAP has looked at how technology can be used to make roads safer for cyclists and motorcyclists, with detection technology that identifies two-wheeled road users and takes action to avoid collisions with them. A video (below) that’s just been released demonstrates the incredibly fast braking when systems detect a cyclist suddenly appearing in front of a vehicle or if a motorcyclist cuts across a vehicle’s path at an intersection. The reaction times demonstrated would be practically impossible for a human to equal, making this technology welcome news to all road users. In Australia, around 40 cyclists are killed every year and roughly 1,000 are severely injured. In New Zealand, a government website highlights that collisions at intersections are one of the major causes of vehicle-versus-motorcycle accidents.
All-round detection is also making it safer for cyclists to pass parked cars with a warning preventing or delaying the car doors being opened if a cyclist is detected approaching from behind.
Pedestrians are also benefitting from enhanced detection systems and improvements to impact testing that more accurately capture the effects of pedestrian/vehicle collisions.
Even the issue of children being locked in hot cars has been considered, with a system that registers someone is still in a locked car with the motor turned off. This will trigger an alarm to notify the adult who has just exited the car. More advanced systems may also automatically lower windows, switch on the air conditioning, or notify appropriate emergency/law enforcement agencies.
In a development that’s especially topical for Australians, attention has been given to the plight of occupants where the vehicle is submerged, perhaps because of flooded roads (almost a third of drownings in Queensland involve submerged cars). In these situations, the waterlogged electronics may fail to operate windows or door locks. The new criteria will ensure electric windows can still function up to two minutes after being submerged and doors opened even when the battery power has failed.
Why thinking you’re a good driver isn’t always enough
Scientific studies have shown that 93% of us think we are ‘above average’ at driving. Unfortunately, with over 1,500 people killed on Australian and New Zealand roads each year, the statistics indicate that either good drivers can have bad days or many of us are not as good at driving as we think we are.
The facts clearly illustrate that driving safely for most of us is still a work in progress. Even after decades of education campaigns, road design improvements, and stringent driver licencing tests, the toll on drivers, passengers, cyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, and even kids in driveways is still worryingly high (in Australia, the percentage of road deaths and hospitalisations involving cyclists is actually higher than it was five or ten years ago).
That’s why manufacturers and organisations like ANCAP are constantly improving guidelines for safety features in vehicles. They are creating and evaluating the technology that helps plug the gaps in our driving skills or simply our ability to focus on the act of driving – Believe it or not, 36% of drivers think they are still performing above average when texting or sending emails while driving.
Think ANCAP when thinking about new vehicles
Smartrak urges anyone responsible for vehicle purchasing to consider ANCAP ratings in their vehicle choice and we strongly recommend looking at the video we have mentioned in this blog. It vividly captures the kind of event that many of us could find ourselves in, regardless of how good a driver we believe we are.
Remember, a five-Star rating from a previous year isn’t always equivalent to the 5-Star rating awarded in the current year, because the rating system reflects ANCAP’s constantly updating criteria. As a result, a vehicle that received a five-star rating back in 2000 would have a lower rating if assessed today. This highlights why current ANCAP ratings should be a key metric for keeping your fleet as up to date as possible.