Crash safety evaluator Euro NCAP plans to address concerns over pedestrian protection with the launch of a new rating system in 2009.

When Euro NCAP was established in 1997 the achievement of five stars in adult occupant protection did not seem possible. A decade on, of the 34 car models tested in a year, 97% achieved either a four or a five star result.

Yet there are still areas of safety that Euro NCAP believes need to be prioritised by manufacturers and where lives could be saved.

"In comparison to these good adult occupant protection results, no manufacturer achieves a four star result in pedestrian protection," it said. "In our tests last year, 67% of models were awarded just two stars in this rating, despite approaching legislation. Euro NCAP is concerned that many manufacturers set out to achieve high scores for adult occupant protection to attract consumers, whilst compromising safety investment in other areas.

"Euro NCAP believes that consumers are interested in the safety offered to all occupants and also to other road users when they are choosing a new car. For this reason, Euro NCAP is developing a new rating system that will reward the overall safety of a vehicle."

Secretary general Michiel van Ratingen added: "I am delighted that more and more manufacturers are achieving five stars in our crash-tests, but it is imperative that Euro NCAP continues to set higher benchmarks for car makers to aspire to.

"Our new rating system will do this. I have no doubt that manufacturers will step up to the challenge, just as they did when we first started. The creation of new technologies means enhanced safety performance and a potential reduction of fatalities on our roads. We intend to reward those manufacturers that make this their ultimate goal."

The maximum rating in Euro NCAP's new system will continue to be five stars. However, the new overall rating will reflect the protection offered to adult and child occupants as well as pedestrians and will, for the first time, consider the safety potential of advanced driver assistance technologies such as electronic stability control. The assessment of adult occupant protection will be expanded to include whiplash testing.

The first results for vehicles tested under this new rating system will be released in February 2009.

More details of the new whiplash test and new rating system will be released towards the end of the year.

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