- Published in Focus.
Michiel van Ratingen
Euro NCAP secretary general
By 2016, where do you want to see the greatest improvements in safety?
The average car in 2016 will be a lot “smarter” in avoiding crashes and collisions with vulnerable road users. Autonomous braking helps to reduce casualties, therefore pedestrian and cyclist safety and whiplash injuries may be more efficiently addressed. Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), such as lane departure warning, will create a safer environment for all.
How much more difficult will it be achieve a five-star rating in 2016?
Euro NCAP’s methodology will be upgraded in almost all facets. Occupant protection will use test devices that will much closer represent human beings and better account for different statures and seating postures. The focus on rear seat protection will increase. Most of all, avoidance and driver assistance systems will become an integral part of the assessment – an area where today OEMs have few demands.
How important will accident data be in shaping 2016’s rating scheme?
Improvements are still driven mainly by accident data and consumer expectation, but increasing use is made of black box and driver simulator data. Near-accidents, critical driving situations and the driver’s response contain key information to develop new advanced safety systems.
What improvements to crash test dummies and facilities would you like to see?
Next-generation dummies will be more humanlike and more capable. Running costs – parts, sensors, calibration and channel count – are likely to increase significantly, but we must ensure that testing remains affordable and that investments balance with the overall benefit. Test houses need to stay in touch with the latest measurement technology and data processing software.
Euro NCAP’s rating system has emphasised the importance of electronic stability control (ESC). What other features could become as important?
By 2016 a number of assistance systems will be included in the rating scheme. Not all will show the large effectiveness numbers that we have seen for ESC, but it is the total integration of these systems that will make traffic a lot safer.
OEMs often cite safety as a factor in weight increases, and therefore CO2 emissions. Do you think this is a valid point?
There is no doubt that better safety, and added comfort and functionality, have made cars heavier. Considering the big improvements in safety over the past decade, we believe the weight increase can be easily justified. Making cars lighter is a new challenge, but to say that OEMs must be allowed to make less-safe cars in the future is wrong. Consequences on weight, however, must be taken into account more explicitly in setting future requirements.
What would you most like to emphasise to the industry?
It may be challenging to achieve a five-star vehicle in 2016. But, more than ever, the highest rating will reflect the best that safety technology has to offer in occupant protection, accident avoidance and driver assistance as well as the protection of other road users