Protection to Passengers in Car Collision Varies Legislation to Require AEB to be Installed in New Cars Suggested

17 February 2020
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Protection to Passengers in Car Collision Varies Legislation to Require AEB to be Installed in New Cars Suggested

Global car manufacturers have committed to enhancing crashworthiness and safety equipment of vehicles to meet consumers’ expectations and legislative requirements of different countries. According to the latest car collision test report conducted by the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP), it was found that the design of some car models lacks proper protection to drivers or passengers during collision from the front or rear side, though most of the models performed well in various collision tests. Consumers choosing a new car should consider its crash protection equipment and safety performance in addition to its brand, model, price and function.

Given the European Union’s mandatory requirement for all new vehicle models sold in the continent to be equipped with “Autonomous Emergency Braking” (AEB) system from 2022 onwards, many new car models in the test have already been fitted with this system in their European versions. The test results revealed that the AEB system of most of the models had a good performance in avoiding collisions with front vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists, which would help reduce accidents. However, the AEB system is not common in Hong Kong. The Council wrote to inquire the authorized dealers to learn that 32 out of 55 tested models have been equipped with AEB system as standard equipment for Hong Kong versions, while 10 models offer it as an optional item at an extra cost. It is worth noting that the AEB system is missing for Hong Kong versions of 7 tested models but was available in their respective European versions as standard equipment. To protect the safety of all road users, the Council calls for the Government to consider introducing legislation to require AEB system to be installed in all new cars while the dealers and car manufacturers should introduce more safety devices for vehicles sold in Hong Kong so as to mitigate the risk of collision.

The test covered various vehicle types, including family car, sports car, executive car, off-roader and multi-purpose vehicle etc. The scoring of the test weighted 40% for the item on “driver and adult passenger safety”, and 20% each for the items on “child passenger safety”, “pedestrian/vulnerable road user safety” and “safety assistance system”.

Concerning the item on “driver and adult passenger safety”, the protection against the collision from the front, side and rear were tested. Most of the models performed well in front collision, but 1 supermini car model was found to have higher risk in chest and head injuries for driver and backseat passenger respectively in the crash; another off-roader model had weak protection to the lower leg of the driver. As for rear collision test, the backseat’s design of 2 models were found to have poor protection to the neck of backseat’s passengers, scoring a mere 1.6 out of a 3-point full mark.

Moreover, 53 models rated 80% or above in the “child passenger safety” item while another 2 rated relatively lower with only 78%. These 2 models were tested with a 10-year-old child dummy at the backseat in the collision test. It was found that the protection to the neck of the dummy was relatively weak, resulting in a higher injury risk.

As for the “pedestrian/vulnerable road user safety” item, 1 supermini car model did not perform well as its AEB system did not function in dimly lit environment at night. Even in daytime, the braking effect of its AEB system was not satisfactory under emergency situation when a child suddenly ran onto the road.

Consumers should pay heed to the following before purchasing a new car:

- The safety devices of certain car models available in Hong Kong may vary from their respective European versions. The more safety devices being installed, the better its safety performance;

- When choosing a car, apart from the price, style and function (e.g. frequent ride for children), also consider if the standard equipment covers side airbags, knee airbags, curtain airbags and AEB system;

- Some models offer safety device as an optional item at an extra cost, it is advisable to check with authorized dealer if such device can be installed before purchase.

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