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Renault Duster fails crash test: Is your car safe? Here’s how they are tested

Global NCAP released results of car safety tests on Wednesday. Here’s all you need to know about how the safety of cars is evaluated.

autos Updated: May 10, 2017 18:30 IST
Gulshankumar Wankar
Gulshankumar Wankar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Global NCAP,NCAP,Renault Duster
Global NCAP released its new set of ratings for India on Wednesday.(Global NCAP)

Global New Car Assessment Programme (Global NCAP), an international consumer protection body, on Wednesday released results of crash tests conducted on popular Indian SUV Renault Duster.

According to the results, Renault Duster scored three star for adult occupant protection only when equipped with a single front driver airbag. With no airbag protection, the car failed to protect an adult occupant sitting in the front. The child occupant safety was two stars in both the cases.

Rohit Baluja, president of the Institute of Road Traffic Education said, “The Prime Minister’s call for ‘Made in India’ should be well respected by car manufacturers to demonstrate the that Indian cars are as safe as the best produced in the developed world.”

The test results released on Wednesday are a step towards improving vehicular safety standards in the country, months ahead of the new vehicular safety regulations by October.

Here’s all you need to know about the crash tests:

What is Global NCAP?

Global New Car Assessment Programme (Global NCAP) is the London-based non-profit agency which assesses safety of popular four-wheelers in major automotive markets globally. It is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the FIA Foundation, International Consumer Testing and Research, and the Road Safety Fund.

Various regional safety agencies work in coordination with Global NCAP, such as Australasia NCAP (ANCAP), Asean NCAP, C-NCAP for vehicles of China, Euro NCAP, Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), Japan NCAP, Korean NCAP, Latin NCAP for Latin America and the Caribbean and US NCAP.

What cars are selected for the test?

Every year, Global NCAP selects most popular or best-selling vehicles across major auto markets around the world to test their safety levels. “The variant that we select for testing is the most-basic safety equipped version but we allow manufacturers to sponsor the next better safety equipped version if they wish to so,” said GlobalNCAP secretary general David Ward told HT.

Do automakers know what vehicles are being tested?

Car manufacturers do not know in advance if their car will be tested. Once Global NCAP buys and obtains the model selected for the crash test, the agency informs the manufacturer and invites them to witness the crash test.

If a manufacturer decides to sponsor a car for testing, Global NCAP makes the selection of the individual car and the manufacturer facilitates the transport, so clearly they are aware that we will be testing one of their cars.

How are the tests done?

The cars are tested under controlled conditions at Global NCAP’s partner agency’s testing lab – ADAC Technical Centre. In the lab, the test car is in a typical family-trip configuration: two adults in front, two children in backseat -- one 3-year-old and one 18-month-old, tank filled up to 80% with water and there’s a big luggage-like load in the boot.

For frontal impact, cars speeded at 64 kmph are crashed into a deformable barrier. The point of impact is at 40% on the driver’s side.

This speed in real life under road crash conditions will be close to about 120 kmph, according to a top Indian automaker.

The sensors connected to the dummies and cameras recording the crash from various angles send impact results to a system which evaluates them and equates it with the impact under natural accidental conditions.

The images and recorded footage deduce parameters like condition of the car body structure, impact on the dummies, etc. to determine whether actual passengers inside the car during such a crash would survive the impact or not.

So naturally, the star rating varies with the safety equipment in the car – like airbags, seat belts, pre-tensioners, anti-lock braking system and electronic brakeforce distribution, etc.

India at Global NCAP so far

This was the third time Indian cars were evaluated for their safety by the global agency. First results released in 2014 showed only Volkswagen Polo passing the safety test when equipped with two airbags. Other models tested such as Tata Nano, Maruti Suzuki Alto and Swift, Hyundai i10 and Ford Figo had flunked.

In the second set of test results released on May 17 last year, none of the five cars tested – Maruti Suzuki Celerio and Eeco, Mahindra Scorpio, Hyundai Eon and Renault Kwid – could get a single safety star for adult occupants.

In other periodic tests released over the past two years, Tata Zest and Toyota Etios, both with two airbags, achieved four-star rating for adult occupants’ safety and 2-star rating for that of child occupants. Ford Figo Aspire too had got three stars and two stars for the adult and child occupants’ safety in a result released earlier this year.

India and vehicular safety?

In 2015, as many as 1,48,707 people died in over 4,64,674 road accidents in India. That number is 282 times the number of casualties reported during the Kargil War, underscoring the need of a vehicular safety regulation in India.

Last month, a Motor Vehicle Safety (Amendment) Bill, 2016, was passed by the Indian Parliament, making way for stricter rules and harsher penalties for their violators, a recall policy for automakers and provisions for Good Samaritans and victims of road accidents. A law regarding safer vehicles and a recall policy was never on paper before.

The accident damaged car in India. The fatalities could come down drastically with the use of more airbags. ( HT file photo )

The ministry of heavy industries, in coordination with the road transport ministry, is drafting a vehicle safety regulation – Bharat New Vehicle Safety Assessment Program, also known as Bharat NCAP.

Under the Bharat NCAP, all new vehicles made October 2017 onwards must be equipped with basic safety equipment. Also, all existing vehicles will also have to be re-jigged to comply with the safety norms by 2019.

The specifics of the new vehicle safety law are still under discussion.

Where does India stand in vehicular safety globally?

“India is making good progress with the adoption of the new crash test standards later this year and we also very much look forward to the launch of the Bharat New Car Assessment Programme,” Global NCAP’s Ward wrote in an email to HT.

Ward added: “In some areas India is a world leader, for example, in mandating anti-lock brakes for motorcycles. However, in other areas more needs to be done such as introducing a regulation for the anti-skid technology electronic stability control (ESC). This life saving system is already compulsory in many high-income countries but is also now starting to be regulated in some emerging markets including Argentina, Brazil and Malaysia. India will increasingly need to fit ESC to all its vehicle exports so we believe it should be made standard for all production certainly by 2020.”

What needs to change?

Almost all automakers are adopting to safer car-making practices. Equipments like airbags and seatbelt pretensioners are being offered as standard right from the lowest variant available. It is important for the government to ensure that automakers are encouraged, and asked to strictly follow the drill.

It’s also the responsibility of you, the car buyer, to ensure your cars come with at least the front dual airbags. It may cost a little extra, but would save a precious life in return.

First Published: May 10, 2017 15:31 IST