Drivers are 30% safer in vehicles with at least a three-star rating under the European New Car Assessment Programme crash test scheme, compared to two-star cars or vehicles without a score.
A study by researchers in Australia and Sweden suggests that while there are 'no significant' injury risk differences for minor injuries, the star rating system is a valid prediction for severe to fatal injuries.
The report by Anders Lie, of the Swedish National Road Administration and Karolinska Institute in Sweden, and Claes Tingvall, of the Monash University Accident Research Centre, in Australia, intended to find out the extent of correlation between vehicles' Euro NCAP scores and benefits in real-life impacts.
Its conclusions suggest drivers at the wheel of vehicles such as the Renault Laguna (five stars), Volkswagen Passat (four stars), Vauxhall Astra (four stars) and Ford Focus (four stars) have a 30% better chance of escaping from an accident than drivers of the Peugeot 406 (two stars) and Fiat Brava (two stars).
The authors studied 1,779 road accidents with severe injury or fatal outcomes and 12,214 accidents in which at least minor injuries occurred. With no major differences recorded for minor injuries between cars with high, low or no Euro NCAP rating, the report echoes previous research which suggests that the focus in Euro NCAP and in car development was towards reducing severe injuries in real life crashes.