Tag Archives: Thatcham Research

How to make a safe car choice

stop-the-crashWe asked Thatcham Research, the UK’s only accredited crash testing centre, to tell us about their work because we wanted Club members to understand their safety-related choices when buying a new car. Which they kindly did for us, as follows.

We all know we’re driving around in more protective cars than we were 10 years ago but there is still room for improvement in this critical area.

With a better understanding of how new cars are tested and the best safety options to consider, this knowledge will undoubtedly help motorists make a safer new car choice in future.

How does the EU test car safety?

Across the EU, independent organisations subject modern cars to rigorous safety testing which results in the award of a safety rating by Euro NCAP (the European New Car Assessment Programme).

All cars have to be tested in impartial conditions and Thatcham in Berkshire is the UK’s only accredited crash testing centre to carry out this important work.

Euro NCAP testing doesn’t just provide new car buyers with an overview of safety standards; it also sets future safety targets for vehicle manufacturers to aim for, ensuring that vehicle safety standards are continually improving for all even if they are only led by a few to begin with.

How are Thatcham tests conducted?

An extensive range of crash tests are conducted in a controlled environment including a track. These tests include frontal and side impact plus whiplash scenarios. Adult drivers and passengers are not the only consideration during testing; the impact on child occupants and pedestrians is also measured and influences the complex Euro NCAP rating.

Physical testing changes rapidly as modern vehicles evolve. For example, one of Thatcham Research’s most crucial roles is testing the new leading-edge technology that is designed to reduce the chances of an accident in the first place.

A good example here is the technology called ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) which plays an increasingly crucial role in the overall vehicle assessment. As vehicle safety standards rise, all manufacturers strive to keep up with the safety leaders here and to maintain their much coveted 5 star Euro NCAP rating.

To give you an idea of today’s Euro NCAP 5 star stated rating requirements, vehicles are expected to offer “Overall good performance in crash protection AND be well equipped with robust crash avoidance technology.”

What is crash avoidance technology?

One of the most important safety features to consider when buying a new car is the fitting of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) as an ADAS. In its most basic form, AEB monitors traffic ahead using sensors fitted to the vehicle and applies the brakes when the driver is distracted or unable to, reducing the chances of a front to rear accident by an impressive 38%.

With one in four accidents being a front to rear impact, the potential benefit of AEB is evident.

Despite the safety benefits and the relatively low cost to manufacturers of AEB, this Advanced Driver Assistance System is not as commonplace as you might expect. In fact, whilst 48% of new cars in the UK can be fitted with AEB, it is only included in 21% of them (2016 figures).

So, if you didn’t know about AEB or didn’t ask for this feature at the time of order, your new car will likely be delivered without the one safety feature most likely to keep you and your family accident free in this area.

Not only does AEB contribute towards a valuable 5 star safety rating today, it can also help reduce insurance costs. Choose a car with AEB fitted and you should expect a drop of around 3-5 insurance groups which is the equivalent to saving some 10% in motor premiums.

So it’s well worth choosing a car that either has AEB as standard or asking your dealership if this is an “option” you can have fitted pre-delivery.

Which cars have AEB options?

To find out if your current vehicle is AEB equipped, or to arm yourself with the information you need to ensure your next new car is as safe as it can be, you can check safety specifications, using Thatcham’s handy AEB checker.

You may also like to see how we conduct crash tests at Thatcham Research, where you can see exactly what a crash test dummy goes through.

FOXY says: The Volvo XC90 includes AEB and leads the market with an award winning package of active and passive safety measures. This makes the Volvo XC90 Euro NCAP’s highest scoring car ever. Of particular note, Volvo Cars and the XC90 are all available at affinity discounts to Club members in 2017. Terms apply and Club members must have joined the Club a minimum of three months before becoming eligible for this offer.

Make sure safety features loom large in your new car choice


Too many car buyers take safety features for granted when they go shopping for a new car.

But the most important ones are in the minority it seems.

Rather than pay extra for top of the range info-tainment systems that might distract drivers during their operation, we’d like to see more motorists understanding, appreciating and actively asking for the likes of 5 star NCAP car ratings, AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking) systems and new tyre safety features.

And of course we’d like to see safety features figuring a lot higher on the list of selling points for used cars, but we don’t see this happening quite yet.

Who are #STOPTHECRASH at the new London Motor Show?

We were particularly interested in the partnership of leading car safety-related businesses Thatcham Research, Bosch, Continental Tyres and ZF TRW (re chassis/safety related technology) who are joining forces at the new London Motor Show at a stand called #STOPTHECRASH.

They are doing this to help motorists ask the right safety-related questions, then compare the answers, before buying a new car.

What are the lifesaving features for all new cars?

Here are their suggested life-saving questions for car buying motorists to ask, before deciding which car is the safest for them and their family.

1. What Euro NCAP test rating does this car have?

2. Is Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) fitted to this car – and is it standard?

3. What else should I do to maximise the safety protection offered by this car?

Why choose Autonomous Braking as a new car safety feature?

Photo ack: Euro NCAP
Photo ack: Euro NCAP

Choose Autonomous Braking as a must-have safety feature on your next new car and you’ll be doing your bit to reduce the annual 100,000 rear end crashes on UK roads resulting in associated and often avoidable injuries and fatalities.

None of this is rocket science, just common sense that you could #STOPTHECRASH by stopping your car sooner than you might do otherwise in an emergency, because of inferior tyre and/or brake conditions.

Don’t forget the safety importance of brakes and car tyres

A report released by Euro NCAP in 2015 found that Autonomous Braking (AEB) systems were responsible for a 38 per cent reduction in real-world rear-end crashes.

Yet despite these statistics AEB is only standard fit on 17% of new cars currently on sale in the UK. We’re supporting Thatcham Research work to do something about this.

“Autonomous Emergency Braking as standard should be the number one priority for anyone choosing a new car.”
said David Ward, Secretary-General of the Global New Car Assessment Programme (Global NCAP).

“The technology is already available in one form or another from almost every car manufacturer and in the absence of legislation to make it mandatory, we are encouraging car shoppers to use their buying influence to make sure that every new car coming onto the road has this life-saving feature fitted.”

Demonstrations showing the safety advantage provided by Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) will run throughout the show and anyone wanting to check which new cars have AEB can do so via the Thatcham Research website.

NB: Tyres wear out on new cars too

Contrary to the number of times I’ve heard motorists saying “I change my car every two to three years” to explain their not needing a FREE car safety check, this doesn’t stop tyre wear leading to potentially dangerous tyres, depending on annual mileage.

Representatives from Continental Tyres will be on hand at the #STOPTHECRASH Show to demonstrate that, despite the UK legal limit for tread depth being 1.6mm, car tyres only perform at 55% efficiency with this amount of wear.

FOXY Lady Drivers Club publishes tyre safety advice for women drivers and supports Continental Tyres’ recommendation that we replace tyres when tread depth reaches 3mm. Sadly, in these instances, too many motorists think that the industry is selling them tyres they don’t need, simply because the 1.6mm limit is ‘legal’. They simply don’t understand that the Government is allowing them to drive on tyres that are not as efficient and could let them down in an emergency situation.

Shockingly Continental Tyre research says that 40 per cent of drivers have NEVER checked the tread of their tyres, choosing instead to wait for a service, while 20 per cent admit that they do not even know how to carry out a tyre check.

This confirms roadside tyre check findings we’ve seen, where fractionally more women were unaware of tyre safety than men. So this rings true for us and is why we are increasingly proactive in encouraging women to go for regular tyre safety checks at FOXY Lady Approved tyre centres that women know they can can trust. .

“Research shows that three quarters of all collisions occur at speeds under 20 mph,” commented David Ward. “Even the most basic AEB system in conjunction with sensible tyre safety could prevent the vast majority of these incidents.”

We shouldn’t need to say any more.


For more information

About The New London Motor Show

About the #STOPTHECRASH partnership

About FOXY’s female friendly tyre services register

What is the safest car in 2016?

With car safety at the top of so many car shopping lists we were eagerly awaiting the What Car? Safety Awards of 2016. We rate these awards highly because:

1/ They are the only ones to be independently selected by the experts at Thatcham Research, in conjunction with a hand-picked panel of safety authorities.

2/ Their safety shortlist is underpinned by a 5 star Euro NCAP rating indicating good performance in crash protection and well equipped with robust crash avoidance technology.

3/ Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) is a must for award winners and the judges give further credit for additional, innovative and unique safety equipment.

NB: AEB is a system to monitor the traffic conditions ahead and automatically brake the car in an emergency situation if the driver fails to respond. Rather than protecting the occupant in the event of a crash like the seatbelt and the airbag, AEB aims to prevent the crash happening in the first place avoiding all the associated misery and cost. It is also the sign of things to come – 37% of all new cars launched in 2015 have AEB available as standard (compared to a previous 17%) and another 36% as optional (compared to 24%).

4/ The price is a factor too whereby those manufacturers that make safety accessible to many not just a few are marked higher.

About Thatcham Research

In case you don’t know what they do, Thatcham Research is the motor insurers’ automotive research centre, researching, testing and providing insurers with a wealth of data on all new vehicles. The insurers can then rate risk more accurately. As the UK’s only accredited Euro NCAP crash test centre and one of the key overall contributors to the Euro NCAP consumer safety testing programme, Thatcham is ideally positioned to select Britain’s safest car.

The safest car award selection process

All seventeen award candidates were assessed as follows.

i/ They must have 5 star Euro NCAP star rating and standard fit Autonomous Emergency Braking on at least one trim level within the model range.

ii/ The Thatcham-assembled panel of experts all analyse each car’s adult, child and pedestrian protection scores from NCAP, assessing where and how effectively the AEB system worked and giving further credit for additional and unique safety equipment and innovation.

iii/ Cars are then marked down if safety kit was available on cars outside the UK but not in the UK.

iv/ Finally, a weighting was applied to do with the price of the vehicle in that competitively priced cars were rewarded (more than expensive ones) for bringing safety to more buyers.

Who are the What Car? Safety Award Winners?

XC90The Overall Winner was the Volvo XC90. With Volvo’s long standing reputation you’d expect them to be a contender for any safety award, however the XC90 in particular has proved to be head and shoulders above the rest with its high levels of active and passive safety making it Euro NCAP’s highest scoring car ever.

Evidently Volvo has raised the bar with this car, going beyond what is currently part of the standard safety evaluation to offer a unique package of safety features including pedestrian and cyclist recognition auto braking, run-off road protection and rear collision alert.

There were two runners up

Honda JazzThe Honda Jazz is a great example of how good levels of safety can be offered, regardless of vehicle size and budget.

For under £14,000 the Jazz gets you standard fit Autonomous Emergency Braking across the full range whilst ‘one touch’ speed limiting, also standard, is unique in this ‘Supermini’ class of vehicle. With other safety technologies like Lane Departure Warning and traffic sign recognition also available the Jazz offers a high level of safety at an attractive price.

Toyota AvensisPlus the Toyota Avensis which is highly commended and provides fleet buyers and families alike with a very high level of protection at a reasonable price.

Toyota is another manufacturer who has gone beyond what is currently tested by safety bodies to provide many standard fit crash prevention features, as well as accommodating the very latest I-Size child seats. Meanwhile advanced technologies like Lane Departure Warning and low and high speed Autonomous Emergency Braking are available across the majority of the range.