20 years in the making: Euro NCAP celebrates its birthday with a bang

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Author: | Updated: 02 Feb 2017 01:57

The first Euro NCAP safety tests took place 20 years ago this week and to mark the occasion, the crash test extraordinaire compared crash tests of two family cars built two decades apart, and the results speak for themselves.

Euro NCAP celebrated its 20 year anniversary with a demonstration of just how much crash safety has improved...

See the results of Euro NCAP’s latest tests here

Euro NCAP is regarded as the leading industry body when it comes to improving safety standards and saving lives. Collectively, its input has resulted in 78,000 lives being saved since the tough testing was introduced in 1997.

Two decades of innovation

Twenty years on, 9 out of 10 cars in Europe have a Euro NCAP rating, and the motor industry actively supports the development of new requirements in order to improve car safety for both occupants and pedestrians.

To find out just what two decades worth of development has done, the famed crash testers stacked a 1997 Rover 100 supermini against a car of the same class today – the Honda Jazz. When the Rover was new, many safety technologies were non-existent or optional at best, airbags being the most notable example.

20 years down the line, the Jazz benefits from airbags, seat-belt warning, electronic stability control and much more as standard and, as the video above attests, the improvement is staggering.

The one-star Rover might be long gone, but the first round of tests proved a challenge for class-leading cars such as the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo, which each achieved three stars out of a maximum of four stars back in 1997 – a far cry from the safe, tech-filled models we know today.

Michiel van Ratingen, Euro NCAP Secretary General

Euro NCAP’s secretary general Michiel van Ratingen said: “We are very proud - as we mark 20 years at the forefront of road safety – that Euro NCAP’s programme of safety tests has achieved major, life-saving improvements in cars and has helped Europe reach the lowest road fatality rate for any region in the world.”

Rover 100 received the lowest rating of one star back in 1997.

The results speak for themselves; 20 years of improving regulations and ever-stringent testing has clearly paid off…

By 2015, things had improved somewhat...

A notable example of Euro NCAP’s input is the continued development of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) which, according to Thatcham Research, could save up to 2,700 pedestrians and cyclists from death or serious injury every year if it was fitted as standard to all new vehicles in the UK.

And the next 20 years…

Looking to the future, Ratingen added: “We want to ensure that Europe’s roads get even safer in the next 20 years, not just for car occupants but for all participants in traffic. Next year, we will test systems that recognise and avoid crashes with cyclists, and we’re lining up a very challenging roadmap for 2020 to 2025.”

Euro NCAP is now looking to the future, taking into account new autonomous aids such as AEB

So, with increasing levels of automation and increasing levels of technology, Euro NCAP’s crash tests  and input in reducing road casualties will be more necessary than ever. Here’s to another 20 years of Euro NCAP.

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