EuroNCAP is a European Car Safety Performance Program, which was founded in the year 1997 by Transport Research Laboratory for the Transport Department of the United Kingdom, and is supported by several European governments.
EuroNCAP testing is important for improving the occupant’s safety of vehicles on European roads. Firstly, EuroNCAP provides independent information about cars comparative safety to their owners. It also helps manufacturers in improving the safety of their cars as it acts as their incentive. EuroNCAP has helped in improving the road safety in a significant manner; this has been shown following a great reduction in the casualties found after a road accident (Goldenbeld, 1998).
There are other alternative approaches adopted in other parts of the world which include:
Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) which is closely aligned with that one of EuroNCAP, it is an automobile organization which is operated by the governments and motoring organizations of both New Zealand and Australia. They are used to give their customers reasonable results on the protection given by vehicles in front and side impact collisions.
Latin New Car Assessment Program (Latin NCAP) is also an automobile safety assessment program which was founded in 2010. It has support from Inter American Development Bank (IADB) following the EuroNCAP. Its objective is to test active and passive safety of the new cars sold in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Despite the EuroNCAP’s program success, it also has some limitations. At first, the program was meant to help consumers understand the differences regarding safety of car models better so that it can influence their purchase decision. However, it is uncertain if EuroNCAP has achieved this goal. Today, the vehicle manufactures striving for the best result seem to be directed at the target group rather than the customers. While the responsibility for car safety falls on the vehicle manufacturers, over-optimization to EuroNCAP ratings may draw away the attention from other needed improvements in safety, for example in the area of infrastructure and driver behavior. It may discourage further developments if the benefits cannot be made visible.
Unfortunately, EuroNCAP lags behind in recognizing real world innovations, notably crash avoidance and driver assist technologies. Another thing is that EuroNCAP frontal crash tests only assess efficiently the self-protection of the car in a collision with a vehicle of the same size and class (Helps, 2001).
Besides environmental protection, low-cost cars safety is expected to remain the key area of future developments in automotive industry. Manufacturers will continue to focus on systems that offer crash avoidance and provide driver assistance rather than those protecting the occupants in inevitable crashes.
Strategic goals to achieve EuroNCAP’s objectives
Improving the methods that they use in assessing the occupants protection whenever a car crashes. EuroNCAP should have a thorough understanding of the current state of occupant protection to determine whether the vulnerabilities exist and what action may be required to address them.
Sustaining the improvement of safety for vulnerable users. The protection of vulnerable users is a critical area for EuroNCAP. The child protection and attention to the pedestrians is expected to raise the significance of these areas of assessment for the manufactures.
Measurement and assessment of the emerging crash avoidance technologies. This provides the best opportunity of adding value to the overall rating. These new test methods are developed to assess the performance of these technologies (Conley, 2009).
In general, there are some similarities and differences between pedestrian and occupant safety. Researchers in Europe have showed that the majority of pedestrians who are seriously injured are normally hit by the front of a car. Their most common form of injuries is trauma of the lower limb. A pedestrian suffers a head injury when a fatal accident occurs. For the pedestrians’ survival, the drivers should always ensure that they are not driving their vehicles and motorcycles at a high speed, and avoid the wrong way. The vehicle’s speed should always be moderate so that when there is a collision, it will be slight and sufficient to avoid any serious injury during an impact. The car fronts should also be protective of the crash (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2006).
Despite helmet use, motorcyclists usually sustain multiple injuries in the crashes. The most common ones are those of their heads, chest and legs. Most of the head injuries have fatal consequences. Leg injuries occur when a motorcyclist either has a direct contact with the vehicle or is crashed to the ground. The European Enhanced Vehicle-Safety Committee (EEVC) shows that a vehicle is involved in a 1/2 to 2/3 of crashes, whereas a 1/4 to a 1/3 of all motorcycles crash with no collision with another vehicle. It also showed that impacts that are off the road, where a motorcyclist leaves the roadway and then turns over or strikes an object that’s on the roadside, is the motorcycle crash type that occurs most regularly. This shows that both the pedestrian and occupants are at risk (European Conference of Ministers of Transport, 2003).
The role of companies and organizations in implementing this roadmap has not yet been determined, these roles will take shape as the members have disseminated and reviewed the roadmap. Sufficient resources should be available to all members and other organization to carry out the tasks allocated in the plans. The mechanisms that exist are set up by the board of directors and are adequate in providing the decisions that are necessary in initiating the projects and activities. The secretariat will then provide operational and administrative support.