Safety Ratings, what do they mean?

In this post we will be talking about safety ratings and using ANCAP safety ratings as a guideline, you can visit their website also at for more information.

What is a safety rating? Why are they important? The answer is obvious, well for the second question anyway. We spend a huge amount of our time in our cars as a whole, a large portion of the community use their cars for a huge amount of reason, the work commute, getting the weekly shopping done, picking up the kids from school and just any other reason we need to get from A to B. Sometimes we see ourselves as invincible, nothing could go wrong for us right? We are the best drivers on the road! Unfortunately, this is untrue, mistakes happen all over the place and you could very easily be in a car accident. It is super important for you to have the safest car you can afford, the ANCAP safety ratings are a guideline that can be consulted to help you decide on a safe car for you and your family.

ANCAP has a vision to eliminate road trauma by encouraging safer vehicle choices, they operate on a star rating system ranging from 0 (unsafe) to 5 stars (safe), the star rating indicates the level of safety of a vehicle for the occupants and pedestrians in the event of a crash. It also looks at the car’s ability through technology to avoid or minimise the effects of a crash. These safety ratings are used to compare the relative safety between vehicles of a similar mass.

All of ANCAPS ratings are determined based on a series of internationally recognised, independent crash tests and safety assessments – involving a range of destructive physical crash tests, an assessment of onboard safety features and equipment, and performance testing of active collision avoidance technologies.

ANCAP assesses vehicles against four key areas:

  • Adult Occupant Protection (AOP)
  • Child Occupant Protection (COP)
  • Pedestrian Protection (PP)
  • Safety Assist (SA)

ANCAP carry out a vast range of tests and assessments within each of these areas, the vehicles tested are required to meet a minimum score for each star rating level. The overall star rating of a vehicle is limited by its lowest performing area of assessment because even if one aspect of a car is safe if another one isn’t then the car is not safe. Here is a timeline of how the safety system has evolved.

  • Adult Occupant Protection considers the level of protection offered by the vehicle to adult occupants seating in the front and second row in the most common types of serious injury crashes.
  • Child Occupant Protection evaluates the level of protection offered to child occupants seated in appropriate child restraints in the rear seats. The ability to effectively accommodate a range of child restraints is also assessed.
  • Pedestrian Protection assesses the design of the front of the vehicle to minimise injury risk to a struck pedestrian. Vehicles are also assessed for their ability to actively avoid or mitigate impacts with pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Safety Assist evaluates the presence and effectiveness of active safety technologies fitted to the vehicle which assist the driver in preventing or minimising the effects of a crash.

All of these scores are tallied up and for a car to score a 5-star rating it must perform to the highest level across all these crash tests and assessments.

What does this mean when buying your car:

Look at the safety rating for your model you are interested in, 5 stars are obviously great but not always attainable just because a car has 3 stars doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t safe enough for you. Just look up the details of the report for your car on the ANCAP safety website. Safety is very important and you should do whatever you can to keep your family safe though, maybe when purchasing a car look for a 5 star rating rather than a stylish finish. Be aware that if a car has been modified, for example a stretch limousine then the manufacturers safety rating can not be assured. Although limousines may have reduced safety rating, it’s important to remember chauffeured limos are driven by experienced operators who have vast experience drive speciality vehicles so you can be more confident in their safety.

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