Accidente de Freddy Rincón revive discusión sobre seguridad de carros en el país

Accidente de Freddy Rincón revive discusión sobre seguridad de carros en el país

The death of Freddy Rincón, after suffering a traffic accident last Monday, fills Colombians with doubts and reopens the debate on the safety of vehicles sold in the country.

Many have questioned the safety of the cars in the country and a key word is often filtered in that discussion, the NCAP tests, which are done to thousands cars worldwide, seek determine the safety levels of vehicles in an accident, to prevent them and reduce injuries in the event of a crash.

Road safety entities have been emphatic about the need to adjust technologies and measure them efficiently. Therefore, a result on an NCAP test becomes a way to boost vehicle safety lines.

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What are NCAP tests?

In 1997, a number of user organizations and road safety programs came together in Europe to measure the safety of cars being sold. To do this, they adopted the standards of the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) of the United States government, which have been in force since 1979, and adjusted them to make them closer to the European market.

This is how Euro NCAP was born, the first organization that independently and internationally evaluated the safety of automobiles and later Latin NCAP for Latin America.

These tests were created to permanently adjust and become stiffer from time to time.

Likewise, they express safety ratings that are valid only for a period of time, which is currently six years, a little less than the useful life of a model in production. Today, 25 years later, there is evidence of this in East Asia, China, Australia, India, Europe and Latin America.

The latter evaluate vehicles for sale in the countries of South and Central America, and among the members of the Latin NCAP organization are the Automobile Club of Colombia and Cesvi Colombia.

The results of frontal crashes at 64 kilometers per hour are analyzed; laterals at 50 km/h, simulating a vehicle running over another at a crossroads; narrow obstacle at 29 km/h, simulating a side impact against a pole or tree, and whiplash, simulating a rear impact that could affect the neck of the passengers.

The presence of technologies such as autonomous emergency braking or stability control is also evaluated and the rescue capacity or risk of passenger entrapment in an accident is measured.

The NCAP Stars

Following NCAP testing, each tested vehicle is assigned a score between zero and five stars. A higher score indicates greater security. Of course, it should be noted that a zero-star vehicle is not insecure in itself: increasingly demanding tests mean that cars that have been in production for a long time suffer in new evaluations. A car that had been able to score four stars in 2014 would only have one in 2021, for example. The NCAP organizations themselves warn that a poorly rated vehicle is not unsafe.

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To this must be added that the latest revisions severely punish vehicles that do not have technologies such as autonomous emergency braking, which immediately lose a star. This is critical in markets such as Colombia, in which autonomous braking incurs additional costs, but where stability control is necessary due to terrain conditions.

Thus, for example, the “Carros Más Seguros” alliance states that 7 out of 10 vehicles sold in Colombia are unsafe, because they do not exceed three stars in Latin NCAP. This is a relative statement.

One of the particular arguments is with the Renault Sandero, Logan and Stepway, which according to the alliance are sold with a star: this result it was made with Renault production in Brazil, but not in Colombiawhere it scored three stars for adults and four for children in the 2019 tests.

The same thing happened with the Kia Picanto, taken from 2017 test results that apply to earlier model vehicles but not those that were launched that same year, or for the Mazda 2, which analyzed a model sold in Mexico with two airbags when Colombian models have six from the most basic.

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How is car safety in Colombia?

Colombian regulations require two airbags and ABS for all vehicles, but those mechanisms may fall short. It is also necessary to include stability control, which would prevent serious loss of control on mountain roads or at very high speeds on motorways.

It is also necessary to demand a minimum of integrity in the structures, but it is not convenient for now require a minimum number of NCAP stars because basically they are not comparable.

In Europe, the NCAP tests have more complete standards than in Latin America, by analyzing more vehicles. Besides, in all countries where there are these tests are voluntarywithout requiring the other builders to join them.

Finally, markets like China and India, where many economy cars come from, are adopting these safety requirements.

All this points to a more complex and difficult to understand market. Even so, it is always better to have more security to avoid more cases like Freddy Rincón’s. As a final piece of information, the NCAP tests in Latin America do not measure accidents on the passenger side, but the European ones do.