International vehicle safety ratings - or NCAP ratings - will likely start playing a bigger role in fleet management. As advanced safety technology becomes more commonplace, so will the need to ensure these are incorporated into your fleet.
The New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) is a specific series of tests conducted on new vehicles. A number of countries and regions around the world conduct their own NCAP tests to focus on the specific models and specification levels sold in that market.
The most relevant rating system to our market is the European NCAP, as OEMs have traditionally kept South African vehicle specifications very similar to the vehicles built for many European markets. As such, the Euro NCAP has become a popular measurement for vehicle safety in South Africa.
The Euro NCAP tests are considered the most comprehensive vehicle safety tests in the world as it tests different collision angles and rates according to:
- Adult Occupant Protection
- Child Occupant Protection
- Vulnerable Road User/Pedestrian Protection
- Safety Assist/Accident Avoidance Systems
After an in-depth testing process and detailed scoring system, each vehicle receives a Euro NCAP rating ranging from zero to five stars. The more stars the better.
The catch with Euro NCAP
The problem with Euro NCAP ratings is that the safest vehicles also tend to be the most expensive vehicles. And, as every fleet manager knows, the most expensive vehicles rarely make sense when it comes to running an efficient fleet.
This is where Euro NCAP tests reach a ‘blocking point’ in terms of fleet management. While basic safety features are required on all fleet vehicles, most fleets can’t afford vehicles with advanced and expensive safety features.
For this reason, Euro NCAP ratings do not play an official role when it comes to fleet vehicle selection or even fleet insurance in South Africa. Due to the high cost of many of these safety features, especially by the time these vehicles are imported into SA, it simply isn’t feasible to select fleet vehicles based on NCAP ratings.
That said, many private buyers and fleet managers use Euro NCAP as a guideline. If, for example, two vehicles are very similar in price but one has a higher safety rating, it is likely the vehicle with the higher rating will be more popular among individuals and fleet managers.
NCAP in the future
NCAP ratings don’t play a role in selecting fleet vehicles in South Africa yet, but this may not always be the case. As accident avoidance systems become more common and affordable, it will make sense to incorporate these into fleets.
Intelligent systems that can help fleet drivers avoid or mitigate incidents will be a welcome addition to the fleet sector.
In the meantime, fleet managers are advised to keep an eye on NCAP ratings. While there may be no official regulations in place, it is still best practice to opt for the safest vehicles when you have a choice.
Ensuring your drivers have the right tools - or vehicles - to do their job means you must provide them with safe and reliable vehicles. While NCAP ratings don’t play a role in fleet management just yet, it is likely that these safety standards will play an increasingly important role.
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