Starting in February, new test procedures will mean fewer cars will earn EuroNCAPs five-star rating for crash safety.
Once fully implemented, EuroNCAPs stricter methods of assessment will mean that it will be impossible for a model to get the top score of five stars unless:
-- Its seats offer adequate protection against whiplash
-- Electronic stability control is fitted to at least 50 percent of the models production
-- Seat-belt reminders are included for all seats
-- It reaches a set standard for pedestrian protection.
Of the 30 cars tested most recently by EuroNCAP, 17 earned five stars and 12 were awarded four stars for adult occupant safety. Yet the average score for pedestrian protection was less than two stars -- just half the possible maximum of four.
The changes are part of a sweeping overhaul of the EuroNCAP safety rating system, which will result in a single overall score for the whole vehicle rather than three separate scores.
EuroNCAP (short for European New Car Assessment Program) is a government-supported, independent car-testing organization. Automakers strive for high EuroNCAP ratings to help promote the safety of their cars to consumers.
Since the EuroNCAP system was introduced in 1997, ratings have been provided for adult occupant protection. Later, separate scores for child occupant and pedestrian protection were added.
Although there are three different tests, this system enabled automakers to claim a five-star result even though the cars pedestrian or child safety performance was inadequate.