“I get that it’s a safety rating, and I get that it has five stars, but what does that actually mean? How safe is it?”

Has this been you? Perhaps it has been you, or one of your peers. It stands to reason – the safety of us and our loved ones while driving is a high priority, if not the highest priority. There are a whole lot of things we can do to be safer on the roads, but there’s one thing than can consistently keep those on the outside and the inside of a vehicle safer, and it’s well worth the investigation.

It’s called the ANCAP safety rating. Today we’re looking at what this well-known safety rating tests, and how it makes your new car safer.

What is the ANCAP? And why is it so important?

Unless you’ve extensively researched the term before, you might have only heard of the ANCAP safety rating in the context of ads on the TV or internet, where a company is selling their newest model vehicle based on its 5-star safety rating. Which is all very well, but I’ve always found that understanding the ‘why’ is just as important as understanding that a thing is important to begin with.

The ANCAP stands for the Australasian New Car Assessment Program. It’s an independant program (so it’s not going to have a particular bias toward car makes), and it is internationally recognised for testing car safety (meaning that it is on-par, if not ahead, of safety tests conducted overseas).

This test measures the safety of new and modern cars in relation to a car’s ability to do two things – be as safe as possible for occupants and pedestrians – in the most common types of serious car crashes. In recent years, the ANCAP has evolved with technology and now also takes into consideration technology that helps prevent car crashes (more on this in a minute).

What does the ANCAP measure?

There are two basic areas that the test measures.

1. Physical makeup of the vehicle

This covers things like the structural integrity of the passenger compartment, the crumple zones in the car, and how the car body is able to take and dissipate the force sustained in a crash. This is, of course, subject to variance across makes and models of vehicle, but the goal remains consistent – that the steering column, dash, roof pillars, pedals, and floor panels stay intact, no matter what happens outside.

2. Active safety features

These are a little more complex than the structure of the vehicle. Typically, the active safety features will include things like the ABS, airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners (these are designed to lessen and disperse the force of impact). They’ve also come to include things like an AEB and ESC systems.

Now, we’ve had ABS for a long time already – it’s an anti-lock braking system, and helps cars prevent locking up the brakes if the driver suddenly has to haul on the anchors. It’s things like the AEB and ESC systems that actually have me really excited about the future of safety.

AEB stands for Autonomous Emergency Braking, and is designed to automatically apply the brakes if the car’s radar detects an object getting too close to the vehicle. An ESC system provides Electronic Stability Control to a moving vehicle, and helps correct the sharp swerve that a driver might throw if a kangaroo jumped in front of their car late at night, for example. It’s that one swerve that can lead to cars fishtailing and going out of control, and an ESC system is designed to jump on top of this escalating problem early. In addition to this ability, electronic stability control can be helpful for freeway drivers, surprise tight corners on winding roads, and slippery sections on roads.

In addition to these, vehicles manufactured in recent years now have the ability to monitor fatigue, blind spots, and unintentionally wandering from lanes of traffic.

In short, we’re developing cars to help prevent accidents before they happen. And that’s a great comfort.

How should the ANCAP safety rating influence my decision?

I never used to understand why it was my father told me to ‘travel safe’ until I started saying it myself. Whether you’re travelling to work, across town, across state or country, whether you’re carrying just yourself, your family, or your ears are pricking up when the kids start talking about when they’re going to start driving, safety of those inside and outside your vehicle is going to be a priority.

The ANCAP safety rating has the most authority of any safety test in Australia, and the once-over this article provides only scratches the surface of why. You can find a link to their website here, and they have an easy-access database covering the safety ratings of new cars in Australia.

Here at Manning Valley Automotive, we stock some of Australia’s safest cars. If you’d like to see which of our best and brightest meet your needs, why not contact us today?