Fleets will soon be able to assess the overall safety of new cars after EuroNCAP, which tests all new cars for crash safety, confirmed it is going to launch a new rating system next year.
The maximum rating in the new system will continue to be five stars.
However, the new ratings 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 driver assistance technologies, such as electronic stability control.
The assessment of adult occupant protection will also be expanded to include whiplash testing.
The first results for vehicles tested under this new rating system will be released in February 2009.
Adult occupant safety has improved dramatically since EuroNCAP was established 11 years ago.
Out of the 34 car models tested and assessed over the past 12 months, 97% of them have been awarded either four or the maximum five stars for adult occupant safety.
However, the latest batch of test confirmed that improvements to new cars’ pedestrian safety are not keeping pace.
Five cars in five different vehicle classes: the Daihatsu Cuore, Hyundai i30, Lancia Delta, Renault Koleos and the Mercedes Benz ML Class were tested most recently.
Four of these five cars received the maximum five-star award for adult occupant protection.
Yet, not one of them achieved higher than a two-star score in pedestrian safety.
“In comparison to these good adult occupant protection results, no manufacturer achieves a four star result in pedestrian protection,” said EuroNCAP.
“In our tests last year, 67% of models were awarded just two stars in this rating, despite approaching legislation.
"EuroNCAP 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.”
Now EuroNCAP has said it will develop a new rating system that will reward the overall safety of a vehicle.
Michiel van Ratingen, secretary general of EuroNCAP said: ‘It is imperative that EuroNCAP continues to set higher benchmarks for car makers to aspire to.
"Our new rating system will do this.”