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How Safe Is Your Car?

4 min read
This is a common question posed by vehicle owners, as a safe ride is the universal concern of drivers and passengers.

Car manufacturers don’t just focus on the look and feel of cars, but also on how safe they are. As safety is one of the most important aspects of a car’s design, car manufacturers are constantly innovating and evolving to make their cars as safe as possible. How do we know whether these innovations and measures really work in keeping us and our passengers safe? This is where the New Car Assessment Program, or NCAP, can help.

NCAP serves as a global platform for cooperation among new car assessment programmes, and promotes the universal adoption of the United Nations’ most important motor vehicle safety standards worldwide. It does this by testing new car models and giving them a safety rating, which enables buyers to make more informed decisions. Provision of this information has also resulted in competition between motor manufacturers, leading to overall improvements in vehicle safety.

Since 2011, NCAP has introduced the ASEAN NCAP to ASEAN countries to elevate the safety standards and raise consumer awareness on safety of cars sold in our region. AA Singapore is a Founder Member of the ASEAN NCAP.

NCAP conducts tests to determine the crashworthiness and the car’s likelihood of rolling over. Previously, the cars were individually rated on a scale of one to five for both pedestrian and adult occupant protection. Now, models are given one overall rating that represents how they’ve scored across four different categories: Adult occupant protection, Child occupant protection, Pedestrian protection and Safety assist.

  • Adult occupancy protection: Measures how safe both an adult driver and front passenger are kept in the event of an accident. Tests are conducted for frontal impact, side impact and whiplash.
  • Child occupant protection: Measures how safe children are kept in the rear seats in the event of a crash.
  • Pedestrian Protection: Assess potential injuries to a pedestrian’s head, pelvis, upper and lower leg in an impact.
  • Safety Assist: Measures systems for emergency braking, speed limit assistance, seatbelt warnings and driver fatigue detection.

Safety ratings are then awarded from one to five stars accordingly.

The number of stars reflects how safe or how well the car performs in NCAP tests. It also takes into considerations  the safety features equipped in the vehicle offered in each market.  So a high number of stars shows not only that the test result was good, but also that safety features on the tested model is readily available to the consumers in the region.

In a five-star rated car, the safety features for the head, body and legs of drivers and passengers must be mostly good. This means there is only a small chance of serious injury to important parts of your body in a major collision.

A four-star rated car, however, has some good safety areas, some acceptable, and some marginal. In marginal areas, there is a moderate risk of serious injury – this can be to the head, body or legs of anyone in the car.

The three-star rated car, is mostly marginal, which makes it unsafe in any collision. A two-star rated car has mostly marginal areas of safety protection and some poor, which means injuries sustained in a serious collision are likely to be life-threatening.

Finally, a one-star rated car will be mostly poor for safety of the head, body and legs – specifically, the heads of driver and front passenger will be at risk of sustaining serious injuries, likely resulting in death.

Keep in mind that the NCAP ratings are constantly evolving with changes in motoring technology as well as road and environment conditions. To make sure the ratings are relevant and current, the ratings can differ over time even for the same car make and model. For this reason, the year of the rating is also important for a better interpretation.

The NCAP has given car buyers peace of mind and made searching for a safe car more transparent and easier. NCAP ratings have also provided self-drive travellers with an added safety assurance when renting a car overseas. For more information on NCAP, look up AA Singapore’s Car Assessment link.

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