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How to choose a car according to Euro NCAP regulations

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03/12/2015

If we plan to buy a car soon, a very important aspect to consider is its level of safety. Leaving aside subjective safety that can be contributed through appearance or height, we must focus on the score that the car would obtain if subjected to certified testing by government agencies.

In Europe, the legislation responsible for analyzing and assessing the level of safety of many of the cars coming to market is Euro NCAP, an independent body comprising several European entities with an international reputation.

On an annual basis Euro NCAP selects the most popular new models that are representative of the market to be subjected to impact tests in a facility designed specifically for this purpose.

In trials where real accidents are simulated under laboratory specifications four main sections are studied: protection for adults (driver and passenger), child protection, pedestrian protection and finally, accident prevention technologies

Three factors are included in the section on child passenger protection:

On the one hand the degree of protection of fasteners against frontal and side collisions is analyzed. Euro NCAP focuses on seat anchorages and their performance under impact by using dummies (which simulate children between one and three years old) in the rear seat in the child restraints recommended by the manufacturer through studying three critical areas: head movement, the force the neck has to support and the acceleration or deceleration suffered by the chest.

A high score will be obtained if the measurements provided by these three key areas give low numbers, the mannequin does not become dislodged from its position and it does not suffer any blows against the inside of the car. If all goes well, the result is that the fasteners are correct.

Secondly we study how the vehicle is able to accommodate different seat designs and sizes, i.e. how accessible the ISOFIX anchorages are in the interior of the vehicle, the safest anchorage system, and whether i-Size standards are taken into account.

Finally, it assesses how safely children are transported in the car in terms of the placement of the child restraints. A key point, for the seats to provide the maximum level of protection, is that they are being used correctly and it is very important when it comes to designing cars to take into account at least the best known child restraints for ease of installation.

Key considerations such as the length of the seat belt, the position of the buckle or ease of access to the ISOFIX anchorages and their stability, as well as placement in the opposite direction of travel, are what Euro NCAP focuses on to provide the rating

With the values obtained after simulated collision testing, a score is given and a percentage value is provided indicating the degree of protection for children traveling inside and can help us when it comes to deciding between the different vehicles that we may be considering buying.

The way of grading how safe each vehicle is and making it understandable for all users is based on a five-star rating system for the overall assessment; however, the tests for each section are provided as a percentage.

If our options result in us being unable to afford a new car, we can view models from previous years on the Euro NCAP website.

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