In our day and age of red tape and political correctness, it’s hard to imagine automotive manufacturers could fall short on delivering the highest of safety standards when bringing new cars to a competitive market.
Although standards have been raised and will continue to do so, the stiff competition to attract the attention of new car buyers means car makers are on a continuous spinning wheel trying to one-up rivals and deliver the safest car at the right price (to both themselves and the buyer). An extra safety system here or airbag there can be the tipping point for consumers comparing apples with apples.
Autonomous braking, airbags galore and a whole host of driver assistance systems have become the norm on any spec sheet, so how is it possible to get a safety rating less than perfect and does it matter anyway?
In recent years there was denial and deference as the hotly-anticipated Ford Mustang failed to achieve a strong score in testing with only two stars initially achieved. This was later revised to three stars for the 2018 model year thanks to some minor improvements but is this even acceptable?
Many ignored the safety rating in pursuit of their childhood wet-dream car, and they are pretty safe, as long as they are not a passenger in the back seat if the Mustang happens to be involved in a crash.
It’s impossible to deny that cars have been getting safer and driver habits have been improving thanks to advertising by the TAC and ANCAP. Recently ANCAP has launched a campaign focused on getting Australians to think about how safe their vehicle is by presenting the scenario of an older car against a newer car in a head-on collision. On the way to zero road fatalities though will Australian’s pay more attention to safety star ratings?
Now some might say that we’ve survived in these ‘death-trap’ vehicles since they first started production, but we’ve never been where we are today. Drivers are under a continuous onslaught of distractions from phones, to road-side signage, screaming kids and unpredictable drivers, there really is a need for all the safety who-har.
Recently Euro NCAP has assessed the Jeep Wrangler and the results were not ideal. Only one star could be awarded to the off-roader with 50 per cent scored for Adult Occupant, 69 per cent for Child Occupant, 49 per cent for Vulnerable Road Users and a measly 32 per cent for Safety Assist.
Now the Wrangler is not without its safety features. It does include an assortment of airbags, warnings and speed assistance but systems such as AEB and lane assist are not even an option.
Although Jeep sales in Australia have not been out of this world of late, should any potential buyer seriously consider the Wrangler given its subpar Euro NCAP performance? And on a wider note, do Australian’s put enough importance on the safety ratings? I think not yet.