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Euro NCAP plans to improve safety for cyclists

Tristan Honeywill

Car safety body Euro NCAP is planning changes to its crash tests that will improve protection for pedestrians and cyclists involved in accidents. By making its crash tests more representative, the organisation will encourage carmakers to introduce designs and technologies that reduce injuries to other road users.

Speaking at the official opening of a new Euro NCAP test facility at Thatcham in Berkshire, secretary-general Michiel van Ratingen, said: “We’re looking seriously at the more vulnerable road users. There’s work to be done to improve our methods and to make the tests drive further improvements on vehicles. This is particularly important for the growing population of cyclists in our towns.”

In the past, changes in the test protocols to protect pedestrians have been initially resisted by manufacturers but quickly implemented nonetheless. Since 2007, when Euro NCAP introduced pedestrian testing into its star ratings, 90% of cars have increased their protection significantly. Tests of bonnets and bumper designs have shown that they are less likely to cause serious injuries in the places that pedestrians legs and heads strike in accidents.

Similar consideration needs to be given to cyclists, especially if the number of people riding bikes for commuting or fun is to keep growing. Things are getting better, but every year in the UK around 16,000 cyclists are injured in reported road accidents, including around 3,000 who are killed or seriously injured. Many more accidents and injuries are thought to go unreported. (These exclude cycling accidents that occur off-road.)

“The crash tests that Euro NCAP uses are developments of regulatory tests developed in the 1980s,” said van Ratingen. “The cars, injuries and priorities are now different. We can upgrade our crash procedures. We’re looking at better tools, better procedures, more realistic barriers and so on. We’re looking at all our impact tests to make them more meaningful in today’s environment.”

The organisation is also encouraging car manufacturers to offer motorists more crash avoidance technologies. These systems can use cameras and radar to detect vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists entering the vehicle’s path. They warn the driver and intervene if necessary. Researchers estimate that the systems could prevent around a quarter of all accidents.“Including crash avoidance systems in Euro NCAP’s assessments will mean make the ratings even more meaningful for consumers,” said van Ratingen. “Cars will not just protect you in a crash, but will also help to avoid collisions in the first place.”

“Driving further improvements in tests and vehicles is importan for the growing population of cyclists in our towns”,

says Head of Euro NCAP Michiel van Ratingen



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