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Vehicle safety features to have NCAP-style ratings

Car buyers may soon be able to choose vehicles on the effectiveness of active safety feature, as well as their crash-worthiness. The Government is working on a new European New Car Assessment Programme-style test that will focus on braking, handling, lighting, visibility and ergonomics.

The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) is creating the test that should satisfy some manufacturer complaints that the EuroNCAP crash tests fail to recognise dynamic safety features such as anti-lock brakes and stability control systems. If trials prove successful, the organisers hope the new test will be adopted globally and achieve the same recognition as the Euro NCAP tests, which have spurred manufacturers into major developments in vehicle crash protection.

A TRL spokesman said: “While the severity of injury and incidence of fatalities are dramatically reduced by Euro NCAP, this does nothing to minimise the frequency of accidents. It is confidently believed that a reduction in the number of accidents can be best achieved through improvements to vehicle design in features relating to primary safety.” Initially, TRL will test eight vehicles - four medium saloons, one off-road vehicle, one large luxury car, one supermini and one sports car - and examine the importance of individual safety features using data from 7,500 fatal accidents. The spokesman added: “This research will lead to test methods that can rank a group of similar vehicles by primary safety feature and for primary safety overall.”

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