The third round of #SaferCarsForAfrica crash test results revealed a reasonable safety performance for adult occupants, but disappointing results for child occupant protection.
The vehicles tested were the Toyota Avanza, Honda Amaze and Suzuki Ignis.
The vehicles sold in South Africa and the rest of Africa often differ from the same models sold in markets abroad, or are specially built for developing markets.
The #SaferCarsForAfrica tests are conducted by British charity Global New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) and the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA SA), and funded by the FIA Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Global NCAP chose the entry-level version of each of the three models for the crash tests, with each model fitted with at least two airbags as standard.
All three vehicles tested offer Isofix childseat anchor points as standard.
The child dummies used in the crash tests represented an 18-month-old infant, as well as a child three years of age.
The test was conducted at 64 km/h, in a simulation of a frontal collision.
The cars were exported from South Africa and tested in Germany.
South Africa no longer has a functioning crash test facility.
The results of the newest round of NCAP tests highlighted significant differences between adult and child occupant protection, explains Global NCAP technical director Alejandro Furas.
The Avanza just managed to achieve four stars (out of five) for adult occupant protection. However, the vehicle achieved only two stars in child occupant protection.
The Honda Amaze achieved a solid four stars for adult occupant protection in the frontal crash test, but achieved only a one-star rating for child occupant protection.
The Suzuki Ignis achieved three stars for adult occupant protection and one star for child occupant safety.
“These results are encouraging, but indicate that more work needs to be done to protect child occupants in vehicles,” comments AA SA chairperson Sikkie Kajee.
“While we have minimum safety standards for vehicles in South Africa, we need to appreciate that minimum is not good enough. At the same time we want to encourage consumers to be more critical of safety features on vehicles before purchasing, and to be more mindful of their own, and their passengers’ safety.”
Kajee says the AA’s vision is to have no zero-rated cars on African roads in the near future.
Global NCAP president and CEO David Ward says the aim of NCAP is to create safer cars, with NCAP ratings often creating a push-pull situation where consumers would push governments and vehicle manufacturers to increase the minimum safety standards on vehicles.
“Africa really has nowhere where minimum crash test standards are applied properly”, he adds.
He believes South Africa can “step up” and play a key leadership role in this regard.
Should the country also manage to refurbish and upgrade its test facilities, it would be possible for the country to act as a testing hub for the Southern African Development Community, and possibly also the rest of Africa – also for emission testing, notes Ward.
Kajee believes establishing a quality facility would cost in the region of E20-million.
Furas notes that South Africa should have a labelling system where all the cars sold in the domestic market have their safety rating published on the vehicle.
Should this happen, Global NCAP is positive that consumers would no longer want any cars with a one- or two-star rating.
He adds that South Africa should consider making electronic stability control standard on all vehicles sold in the country, as it could save almost as many lives as seatbelts.
An average of 13 500 people die on South Africa’s roads every year.