THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN REAL CRASH BASED AND BARRIER TEST BASED VEHICLE SAFETY RATINGS: A SUMMARY AND INTERPRETATION OF THREE RECENT STUDIES.
The provision of information on comparative vehicle safety has become an important mechanism to encourage consumers to consider safety aspects in the purchase of a new or used vehicle. Two major sources of consumer vehicle safety information are available in Australia. They are the Australian New Car Assessment Program, based on results of vehicle crash barrier testing, and the Used Car Safety Ratings, based on analysis of driver injury outcome in real crashes reported to police. Three major studies have now been completed examining the relationship between vehicle safety ratings based on crash barrier testing with those obtained from analysis of real crash data, analysing real crash and barrier test data sources from Australia, the USA and Europe. This paper investigates global conclusions that can be drawn from these studies as well as discussing key differences. It goes on to relate the likely impacts of the observed similarities and differences in the two different ratings systems on consumer interpretation of parallel presentation of ratings from two different systems. Finally, based on the results of the three studies, various options for the consistent presentation of vehicle safety ratings from the two systems are explored along with the likely feasibility and acceptability of each.