Earlier this month, Max Mosely, Global NCAP (New Car Assessment Programs) chair spoke to the United Nations in Geneva about safety standards and called on car manufacturers to stop “treating millions of their customers as second class citizens when it comes to life-saving standards of occupant protection.”
The Global NCAP is a nonprofit organization registered in the United Kingdom that aims to promote safer cars worldwide. They encourage the global availability of independent consumer information about the safety of motor vehicles. This program has been established to support the goals of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety. The Global NCAP encourages the formation and development of NCAPs and similar organizations worldwide.
The NCAP programs have been effective in creating a market for safety. Since 1960, NCAP has helped to apply federal “Motor Vehicle Safety Standards” in the U.S., including the requirements for seat belts, air bags, chair safety seats, and electronic stability control. These safety standards have saved an estimated 613,501 lives! In 2013, there were 30,057 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States. These accidents are in a market where safety standards are high. However, in other markets the fatalities from car crashes are much higher. The safety of vehicles on our public roadways is extremely important. NCAP strives to bring safety standards to a priority, in all markets and for all individuals.
Current Market Car Safety Standards
Despite it’s high importance, safety is not standardized across all manufacturers worldwide. Each region of the world has its own specific car safety rating. The United States, Europe, and Japan have been considered world leaders in developing and applying vehicle safety technologies. Some developing countries within other parts of Asia and South America are behind the times, only recently making car safety standards a national priority.
China has come a long way, in just the past decade, with domestic car safety features now being comparable to the rest of the modern world. While China’s car safety standards are moving up, other areas such as India and parts of Africa are lagging behind. Mosley notes, “Safety improvements stimulated by legislation and consumer awareness campaigns in high income economies that have saved hundreds of thousands of lives are not yet systematically available for drivers and their families in rapidly growing, lower income markets.”
Just last year, BBC news reported that five of India’s most popular small cars had failed crash tests with a rating of zero-stars. These include major car manufacturers, who have models that were made in India, which rated poorly. All of the entry level cars produced in India have extremely poor structure integrity, and do not yet have airbags fitted. These low standards are putting consumers are risk.
It’s these types of low standards that have the Global NCAP attempting to bring about standards, that would affect manufacturing safety standards worldwide. The launch of the Global NCAP’s new policy report “Democratizing Car Safety: Road Map for Safer Cars 2020” will be released later this year. David Ward, Global NCAP Secretary General and author of the new report said, “The drive for the democratization of car safety must now be extending across all automotive markets worldwide.” The goal is, by 2020, to have all new cars meet basic standards for both crash protection and crash avoidance. In order to achieve this, investments are encouraged to be made in laboratory capacity and skill training to enable homologation, in use compliance, and independent NCAP testing in all regions.
Another specific of the NCAP recommendation is the de-specification and bundling of safety features. Instead a full range of safety design and devices will be available separately. The goal by 2020, is to see all passenger cars be fitted with crash avoidance systems and electronic stability control. Basic UN occupant and pedestrian protection should be standard, and not considered luxuries only for the better-off, explains Secretary General David Ward. It is a travesty that these standards are not for all individuals.