How do we know how safe a car is? ANCAP car safety ratings are based on a star rating which awards points for each vehicle from 1 to 5 stars. These tests are conducted by independent specialist laboratories. 

New vehicles are awarded or deducted points based on a combination of test categories and scientific criteria. All vehicles are assessed under identical testing standards and conditions.

During the testing, crash test dummies are used to measure specific criteria such as movement of the dummies and the structural impact on the occupant’s compartment within the vehicle.

Additional points can be awarded to the vehicle for safety features such as ABS braking systems, ESC or electronic stability control and seat belt reminder alarms.

The highest rating is an ANCAP 5, which requires the vehicle to achieve the highest International recognized safety standards in all test categories.

Every fifteen minutes, someone in Australia and New Zealand is killed or seriously injured in a motor vehicle crash - that's 35,000 adults and children every year.

While road deaths have been declining, about 5 people per day still die each year on the roads.

Let’s explore some of the safety features that are considered in the ANCAP system:

Structural integrity:

The ANCAP rating is looking for vehicles with sound structural integrity where most of the crash energy is absorbed and dissipated. A higher rated car will keep its compartment shape and the floor panels, pillars, steering column and dash will not move excessively.

Air bags:

Air bags when deployed in a crash significantly reduce the chance of death or serious injury. It is recommended that when purchasing a vehicle you look for front, side, curtain and knee air bags for maximum safety.

ABS: Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS) prevent the wheels of a vehicle locking as brake pedal pressure is applied - often suddenly in an emergency or short stopping distance. ABS increase the driver’s control of the steering which prevents skidding.

Both ESC and ABS are complementary technologies, working together to provide greater control of the vehicle.


Sudden movement when avoiding a hazard can lead to the vehicle swerving sharply one way and then sharply back the other way causing the vehicle to slide or skid uncontrollably and often resulting in a serious crash. ESC helps avoid this situation.


All occupants should wear retractable three-point sash style seat belts with pre-tensioner technology that helps prevent or deal with the forces of impact during a crash. Child restraints should be fitted and conform to Australian Standards and can be fitted an at authorised fitting station in our local area. The test results are not designed  to prove which is the safest car in all types and severities of crashes. ANCAP evaluates the likelihood of serious injury for drivers and front seat passengers involved in frontal crashes and side impact crashes. It is recommended drivers look for 4 star rating and over for their car.

THE MORE STARS THE BETTER – Look for ANCAP 5 star ratings on new and used cars.

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