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Explained: Euro NCAP safety ratings

Explained: Euro NCAP safety ratings

Cars today are the safest they have ever been. Even less expensive models are packed full of technology to aid the driver on the road, reduce the chances of a crash happening and protect them if the worst does happen.

Much of this is driven by legislation, but manufacturers also chase five-star ratings from the independent crash test organisation Euro NCAP. To better understand how the ratings are handed out, we’ve put together a handy guide.

NCAP star rating

To make the safety ratings easy to understand, Euro NCAP hands out a rating out of five that looks at all of the different areas of the test to give an overall picture of a car’s safety.

If safety is your priority, you’ll want to look out for five-star cars – but it’s also worth checking out the date when the test was conducted, because the criteria for scoring becomes more rigorous over time.

Dual ratings

Since 2016, Euro NCAP has issued dual ratings that see the cars scored with their standard safety equipment to indicate the ‘minimum amount of safety you can normally expect from any car sold anywhere in the European Union’.

A second rating is then provided based on the additional safety equipment that can be added as an optional extra. These ratings should be higher, but they will make the car more expensive to buy. Meanwhile, not all cars have extra safety equipment so will only get one score.

Adult occupancy

The adult occupancy rating is based on how well protected adult occupants are in the event of a crash, so that’s both those in the front and back. This score is displayed as a percentage, and the higher the number the safer the car.

Child occupant protection

Another self explanatory one here – this measures how safe children are in the car, making it a very important number for those with a young family. These tests take into account children sitting in booster seats or larger car seats too.

Pedestrian protection

While most people are aware that cars are tested for how well they protect those inside, you might not be aware that they are also tested for how pedestrians fare should they be hit by a vehicle.

The test was recently updated to include those on two wheels, so it is now often referred to as Vulnerable Road User protection.

Safety assist

Technology levels in cars have accelerated at a crazy pace in recent years, and this is reflected in the importance of the safety assist segment of Euro NCAP testing. Now, cars are measured for their driver assistance and crash-avoidance technology, with features such as autonomous emergency braking key to a good score.



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