The child protection rating is for cars with child seats that have been specifically recommended by the car manufacturer. The rating depends on the fitting instructions for the child seats, the car's ability to accommodate them safely and their performance in front and side impact tests.
This means that the ratings do not apply to seats that have not been recommended by the manufacturer, being used in that vehicle, which the AA calls into question.
“Given that round 97 per cent of parents buy a universal child restraint from a specialist retailer for their child and use it in every car in which the child travels, it's hard to see the relevance of NCAP's ratings, other than to the three per cent of parents who buy their child seats from the dealer,” says Chris Patience, motoring content manager for the AA.com.
Patience doesn't see that these ratings will have any effect on the market or on the car manufacturers, but believes the assessment of universal restraints would be more beneficial.
“TRL in the UK are leading the development of 'NPACS' which is set to become a sort of EuroNCAP for child restraints. It will assess universal restraints and rate them according to dynamic performance and computability in a range of cars, along with misfitting potential and so on. Euro NCAP would have a more positive effect in this area by making additional points available for the provision of universal ISOFIX mounting points.”
But Euro NCAP is adamant that the new rating will encourage manufacturers to design vehicles, particularly those aimed at family buyers, with child safety in mind.
“Euro NCAP's latest tests are particularly significant because for the first time we give cars a specific rating for protection of children,” says Euro NCAP chairman Max Mosley.
“We have taken this step to focus the attention of manufacturers and consumers on this vital aspect of road safety.”