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Real-world performance of vehicle crash test: the case of EuroNCAP
  1. Maria Segui-Gomez1,
  2. Francisco J Lopez-Valdes1,
  3. Richard Frampton2
  1. 1European Center for Injury Prevention (ECIP), Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain
  2. 2Vehicle Safety Research Centre, University of Loughborough, Loughborough, UK
  1. Correspondence to Maria Segui-Gomez, European Center for Injury Prevention, Universidad de Navarra, Edif. Investigación, Desp 2290, Irunlarrea 1, E-31080 Pamplona, Spain; msegui{at}


Objective To investigate whether the occupants in vehicles with better safety ratings according to EuroNCAP sustain fewer fatal and severe injuries than occupants in vehicles with worse experimental safety ratings when in frontal crashes.

Design Case–control study.

Setting A representative sample of crashes in Britain from 1996 to 2008 as gathered in the Cooperative Crash Injury Study (CCIS) database under the auspices of the UK Department of Transportation and augmented with EuroNCAP experimental ratings for each crashed vehicle.

Subjects Drivers and front seat passengers while occupants of vehicles for which EuroNCAP test results were available and who met inclusion criteria meant to select those in crashes similar to those in the frontal experimental setting.

Main outcome measures Fatality and severe MAIS3+ injuries to the head, thorax, pelvis and lower extremities.

Results The multivariate Poisson regression models on the 1259 cases who sustained crash conditions most similar to the experimental ones showed no statistically significant effect on either mortality or MAIS3+ injury in real-world crashes when travelling in cars with better safety ratings. For example, when compared to a driver in a vehicle rated as safest for head injuries MAIS3+ in frontal crashes, drivers in vehicles rated yellow or orange presented adjusted ORs of 0.6 (0.2 to 1.7) and 0.8 (0.3 to 2.1), respectively.

Conclusions No statistically significant relationships between the EuroNCAP safety scores and real-world death or severe injury outcomes were found, suggesting the need to review biomechanical criteria chosen to set cut-off points for the rating system.

  • Motor vehicle
  • injuries
  • safety
  • effectiveness
  • frontal crash
  • evaluation

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  • Earlier analyses were presented at the 51th Annual Conference of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine held in Melbourne (Australia) in October 2007 and in the ‘Càtedra A Plus’ lecture series in Barcelona (Spain) in November 2008. Montserrat Ruiz-Perez assisted in manuscript preparation.

  • Funding This work has been supported by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science (ref TRA 2006-14280/AUT) and partially supported by La Caixa Foundation. This paper uses accident data from the United Kingdom Co-operative Crash Injury Study (CCIS). CCIS is managed by TRL Ltd on behalf of the Department for Transport (Transport Technology and Standards Division) who fund the project with Autoliv, Ford Motor Company, Nissan Motor Europe and Toyota Motor Europe. Data were collected by teams from the Birmingham Automotive Safety Centre of the University of Birmingham, the Vehicle Safety Research Centre at Loughborough University and the Vehicle & Operator Services Agency of the Department for Transport. Further information on CCIS can be found at All authors are independent from funders.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.