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This week, twenty years ago, an organisation called Euro NCAP was formed. Little did they know that two decades later, they would be responsible for saving over 78,000 lives. And to celebrate their anniversary, they took two cars – one from twenty years ago and one modern day car to see how they perform.
Back when Euro NCAP was launched, cars in Europe didn’t pay much heed to safety. Features like airbags, belt reminders, ABS and ESC were either optional or non existent. It isn’t hard to see why that twenty years on, these are standard features on all cars sold in Europe. In fact, safety features have transcended this and now using radar tech, cars are preempting errors and keeping drivers safe. Euro NCAP’s constant crashing of cars to bring gaps in safety to the fore and educate customers of the same have pushed manufacturers to up their game on this front. Euro NCAP claims to have tested (read crashed) over 1800 cars since they started out in 1997 and this has come at a cost of 160 million Euro.
The effects of this have also trickled in to the Indian market. There was a time where safety features on small family cars were close to unimaginable. But slowly manufacturers have started to see merit in it — helped in no small measure by customers demanding more safety. Nowadays manufacturers like Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai offer optional airbags in their smallest cars and are pumping in money to develop body structures that absorb impact and don’t transfer it to the occupants.
However, as time goes by, the Euro NCAP tests are getting more and more demanding. Cars can now achieve a maximum of five stars, awarded not just for how they protect occupants and pedestrians in a collision, but on the car’s ability to avoid a crash in the first place. Cars are being kitted with all sorts of technology and sensors to predict irregularities in pedestrian behaviour, or unsafe driving from cars around. They are supposed to take avoidance measures, and if none are possible, protect the maximum people in the impact.