How are cars tested for safety?

Safety testing explained


ANCAP tests and rates popular-selling passenger, sports utility (SUV) and light commercial vehicles (LCV) when released as new vehicles into the Australian and New Zealand markets.

ANCAP safety ratings are determined through a series of physical crash tests and collision avoidance performance assessments, undertaken in controlled laboratories and test tracks.

Our ratings indicate the level of safety a new vehicle provides to occupants, other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists in the event of a crash, as well as the vehicle’s ability to avoid or minimise the severity of a crash.

All vehicles rated by ANCAP are evaluated against four key areas of assessment which focus on the protection of vehicle occupants, those outside the vehicle, and the active ability of a vehicle to avoid a severe crash.

Adult Occupant Protection

Child Occupant Protection

Vulnerable Road User Protection

Safety Assist

The current model Ford Ranger undergoing ANCAP safety testing


A range of tests and assessments are conducted within each key area of assessment. Vehicles are required to meet minimum score thresholds for each star rating level. Rating requirements (test criteria) are updated every three years to encourage inclusion of the latest safety features and technologies into new vehicles entering the Australian and New Zealand markets.


Physical crash tests

A range of destructive physical crash tests are conducted to simulate the most common types of on-road crashes. These include frontal impact, side impact, run-off-road, rear-end, and pedestrian strikes.

The effect on adult and child occupants is assessed with the help of our family of dummies.

Child Occupant Protection

The protection of child occupants is an important element of our testing and rating.

A vehicle cannot achieve a five-star ANCAP safety rating without providing a good level of protection to child occupants.

We use child dummies that represent a 6 year old and 10 year old in both the frontal offset and side impact tests to assess how well the vehicle protects children in these crash scenarios. In addition, we also assess vehicle safety features for child occupants, and how well each vehicle can safely accommodate a range of common child restraints – from rearward-facing baby capsules to forward-facing booster seats.

Child dummies representing a 6 year old and a 10 year old


Safety assist performance tests

Each vehicle we rate is assessed for the presence and effectiveness of Safety Assist collision avoidance technologies – active safety systems that can help avoid or reduce the severity of a crash.

The technologies assessed today include car-to-car, car-to-pedestrian and car-to-cyclist autonomous emergency braking (AEB) systems, lane support systems (LSS), automatic emergency steering (AES) and speed assistance systems (SAS). An assessment of indirect driver monitoring systems is also undertaken.

From 2023, the scenarios ANCAP assesses broaden to include an assessment of car-to-motorcycle AEB and LSS, direct driver monitoring systems (DMS) and child presence detection (CPD).


Features and requirements to help the rescue response

Emergency services personnel who are first on the scene of a crash to render assistance can be put at risk if they are not aware of the location of high voltage batteries, fuel tanks, airbag inflators and seatbelt pre-tensioners. Their work can also be hampered by locked vehicle doors and windows, and high-strength body structures.

To assist with the safe rescue and extrication of occupants, vehicle manufacturers have been encouraged to provide standardised vehicle information highlighting the location of potential rescue hazards in the form of a Rescue Sheet for all new vehicles since 2020. Easy access to this information is important as more electric and alternative-powered vehicles are driving on our roads. All available Rescue Sheets have been compiled into the ANCAP RESCUE app for use by first responders.

As part of ANCAP's post-crash response assessment, a vehicle's ability to apply the brakes to avoid a subsequent collision is also assessed (multi-collision braking), along with the ability for doors to be automatically unlocked and allow access once a crash occurs. From 2023, this assessment also extends to vehicles that become submerged in water.

The scores achieved for passive safety, active safety and post-crash safety all contribute to the overall ANCAP safety rating.

ANCAP encourages high levels of safety performance across all areas of assessment and the overall star rating of a vehicle is limited by the lowest performing area of assessment.