Active safety refers to the vehicle systems that dynamically aim to avoid the impact in the first place. Passive safety refers to how the vehicle protects the occupants during an impact. These are the two core components of vehicle safety, with active safety developing rapidly over the past few years.
Active - Passive Safety Testing
Active Safety Tests
Active safety technology aims to reduce the severity or completely avoid the crash happening in the first place. Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) is one part of active safety that can brake the vehicle automatically in an emergency situation. Other technologies include Emergency Lane Keep, Speed Assistance Systems and Electronic Stability Control.
Passive Safety Tests
The Euro NCAP programme requires 4 different crash tests; a 64km/h offset frontal impact, a 50km/h full width frontal impact, a 50km/h side impact and a 32km/h pole impact. These tests represent the most common types of accidents that occur on European roads.
The capabilities of an autonomous vehicle are categorised into different levels, from 0-5. Where level 0 means that the driving is in complete control of the entire vehicle at all times, and level 5 refers to a fully-autonomous system that can operate without the ‘driver’ interacting with the vehicle.
The Euro NCAP five-star safety rating system helps consumers and businesses compare vehicles more easily and help them identify the safest choice for their needs.
The safety rating is determined from a series of vehicle tests that represent, in a simplified way, important real-life accident scenarios. The number of stars reflect how well the car performs in Euro NCAP tests. A high number of stars shows not only that the test result was good, but also that safety equipment on the tested model is readily available.
The five-star safety rating system continuously evolves as older technology matures and new innovations become available. The tests are updated regularly, new tests added to the system and star levels adjusted. For this reason, the year of test is vital for a correct interpretation of the car result.
To find more information about the latest Euro NCAP safety ratings, please go to Media Centre or www.euroncap.com
How to buy the safest car possible
Check the Euro NCAP rating
The place to start when evaluating the safety of a new car is the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP). It rates cars up to five stars based on how well they protect driver and passenger in an accident, and their ability to help avoid a crash in the first place.
Look out for AEB
A key system in this area is Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB). These use sensors such as radar and cameras to identify if a car is about to be involved in a collision, and automatically apply the brakes.
Pick the safety technology relevant for you
There are different types of AEB, and its key to pick the right version for your needs – some systems only work in city conditions, while others function at high speeds on motorways.
Consider your options
Safety technology is constantly changing – new systems include junction protection to help avoid serious injuries at intersections. Other systems prevent vehicles from running off the road and identify cyclists and animals. So check your safety spec, always buy a Euro NCAP rated Five-Star car and look for safety packs to lift your protection and prevent you from being one of the 1700 people killed every year on UK roads.
Related information: Volvo continues to lead the way in car safety, Ford ups its safety game
The world's most exacting car safety testing
Watch as Thatcham Research engineers put the Polestar 2 through its paces, via a series of Euro NCAP tests to assess the performance of its passive and active safety systems
Euro NCAP 20th Anniversary
Euro NCAP had its 20th Anniversary in 2017, and to highlight the difference the organisation has made to vehicle safety over the years, Thatcham Research re-tested the first vehicle to go through the programme back in 1997. The first car tested by Euro NCAP was the Rover 100, which achieved extremely poor results even for its time. The Rover 100 was then compared to a modern equivalent vehicle; the Honda Jazz. The video demonstrates the dramatic advancements in vehicle safety over the past 20 years, with the difference being literally life and death.
Developing standards in vehicle testing
Any car safety test target needs to represent a real vehicle but must also be impactable so as to not damage either test vehicle or target, nor present any risk to a driver. Watch as top science YouTuber Tom Scott visits our test track to get under the foamy, radar-reflective skin of the surprisingly sophisticated Global Vehicle Target.