Technology key to reducing crashes: ANCAP

Though Holden’s Astra offers a five-star safety score, ANCAP is disappointed that the model does not offer autonomous emergency braking. Photo: Supplied

Australia’s leading crash safety body has told a government hearing into driverless cars that manufacturers, consumers and authorities must share responsibility for making roads safer.

ANCAP chief executive James Goodwin says customers need to demand that life-saving technology such as autonomous emergency braking is fitted in new cars.

The development comes as Holden and Subaru earned five-star crash ratings for the new Astra sedan and Impreza-based XV hatch. While the cars are impressive at a glance, ANCAP criticised Holden for not offering AEB on the Astra sedan, while having a go at Subaru for electing not to make the technology available on the entry-level XV grade.

Experts crash-tested the Korean-built Astra sedan in Sydney’s CrashLab, while the Subaru’s results are derived from earlier assessment of the Impreza hatch.

“It is disappointing autonomous emergency braking is not available across the board on two new models and we continue to encourage consumers to ask for, and brands to offer, this potentially life-saving technology,” Goodwin said.

“As our requirements become more stringent next year, it will not be possible for new models to achieve a 5 star ANCAP safety rating without an effective AEB system fitted as standard.”

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Holden’s compact car scored 34.94 out of 37, while the Subaru received 35.80 thanks to superior front crash and pedestrian protection performances.

ANCAP has previously said carmakers are rushing to have cars tested in 2017, before tougher standards come into play. If the Astra was tested to the 2018 regulations, it would only receive four stars.

Goodwin told the Federal Government hearing into the social impact of driverless cars that “the reality of ‘driverless’ cars on our roads is some way off but autonomous technology is here and its increased roll-out will have a major impact in improving road safety”.

“Almost ten years ago, ANCAP led the way in encouraging the fitment of electronic stability control by introducing it as a mandatory requirement for 5 stars, and this now extends to functions such as active cruise control, autonomous emergency braking and lane keep assist,” he said.

“These Level 1 automated technologies are already in the marketplace and ANCAP is assessing and rating vehicles with these features which will form the ‘building blocks’ for highly autonomous, or potentially driverless vehicles in the future.”
“We would urge consumers to demand autonomous technology; manufacturers to offer it; and regulators to support it.”

Electronic stability control is mandatory for new passenger vehicles sold in Australia. It is possible that autonomous emergency braking will join that feature as a minimum standard in coming years.