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Safety Testing Explained

Safety Testing Explained.

ANCAP uses a range of internationally recognised crash tests and safety assessments undertaken by independent specialist laboratories.

A suite of crash tests is conducted mimicking the most common types of crashes. Vehicles must achieve minimum scores across all physical crash tests for each ANCAP safety rating level.

In all physical crash tests, dummies are used to scientifically measure the various forces on occupants and pedestrians. The data gathered from the dummies is then assessed and scores determined for each respective crash test.

In addition, vehicles are required to be fitted with certain safety assist technologies (SAT). The overall score is then translated into an ANCAP safety rating of between 1 to 5 stars, with higher scores and greater safety features awarded more stars.

Make safety the priority when choosing your next car. Look for a vehicle which has the maximum 5 star ANCAP safety rating... it could save your life.
  • Frontal Offset Test

    In the real-world...

    The frontal offset test simulates hitting another car of the same mass travelling at the same speed.

    At our test centre...

    40% of the car, on the driver's side, makes contact with a crushable aluminium barrier at 64 km/h. The test car has two adult dummies in the front seat; the rear seat has an 18 month old child dummy and a three year old child dummy, both in appropriate child restraints.

  • Side Impact Test

    In the real-world...

    The side impact test simulates two cars colliding at 90 degrees.

    At our test centre...

    A 950kg trolley is run into the driver's side of the test car at 50 km/h. The trolley has a crushable aluminium face to simulate the front of another car.

  • Pedestrian Test

    In the real-world...

    The pedestrian impact test simulates accidents in which a pedestrian is hit by an oncoming vehicle. These accidents represent about 15% of fatal crashes in Australia and New Zealand.

    At our test centre...

    The pedestrian impact test is used to estimate head and leg injuries to child and adult pedestrians struck by a test vehicle at 40km/h.

  • Pole Test

    In the real-world...

    The pole test simulates an accident in which a car collides with a fixed object such as a tree or pole. Curtain airbags are particularly effective in preventing injury in this type of crash.

    At our test centre...

    A car is propelled sideways at 29 km/h into a rigid pole aligned with the driver's head. The pole is relatively narrow, resulting in major penetration into the side of the car.

  • Whiplash Test

    In the real-world...

    The dynamic whiplash test assesses likely head and neck injury resulting from a rear impact crash.

    At our test centre...

    The car's seat is mounted to a test sled which is propelled forward to simulate a rear-end crash - equivalent to a stationary car being hit at 32 km/h.

The Crash Test Dummy.

Dummies provide vital clues to what happens in a crash.

The crash test dummies used by ANCAP have experienced hundreds of crashes first-hand. Their role is critical - they provide a picture of likely injuries in a crash.

Hi, I’m a frontal crash test dummy.

I’m specifically designed to gather data from head-on crashes, and am particularly good at providing information on the likely head and neck injuries. I also help assess other body regions including the chest, legs, knees and feet.

Have a look around to see how I work...

My head is made of aluminium and covered in flesh-like rubber. Inside, I have three accelerometers set at right angles that measure the forces on the brain.

My neck has measuring devices that are used to detect the bending, shearing and tension forces that occur on the neck, as a result of my head being thrown forwards and backwards during impact.

My ribs are made of steel, and fitted with equipment that records the deflection of the rib cage and likely chest injuries in a frontal impact.

When I’m in a crash test, my arms fly around in an uncontrolled way. Although serious arm injuries are uncommon, it’s difficult to provide passengers with any worthwhile protection – so my arms don’t carry any instrumentation.

Load cells in my femur provide data on the likely injury to the upper leg area (thigh, pelvis, hip joint and knee) during a frontal impact. I also have a knee slider, which can be used to measure the forces transmitted through my knees.

Instruments fitted inside my lower legs measure bending, shearing, compression and tension, allowing for injury risks to the tibia (shin-bone) and fibula (connecting knee to ankle) to be assessed.


The dummy used in side impact and pole tests is somewhat different to the frontal offset dummy - they are specifically designed to gather side-impact data: rib, spine, and internal organ effects and spine / rib deceleration and compression of the chest cavity.

In whiplash testing, a specially designed rear impact dummy is used. The rear impact dummy has simulated vertebrae which replicates each of the vertebra of the human spine. It is used to detect the motion of the head and body experienced in a rear-end crash.

In pedestrian testing, headforms (adult and child) and legforms (upper and lower) are used rather than full dummies. The headform measures impact deceleration, and this is used to rate the severity of the impact. The upper legform measures the severity of the impact and the risk of fracture to an adult pedestrian's femur and pelvis. The full legforms measure the risk of ligament damage to the knee and the risk of fracturing the tibia and fibula.

Every 15 minutes someone in Australia and New Zealand is killed or seriously injured in a motor vehicle crash — that's 34,000 adults and children every year.
While road deaths have been declining, about four people per day still die on the roads. The cost to the community is estimated to be nearly AU$70 million a day.

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