A key member of European vehicle safety organisation Euro NCAP, the work of Thatcham Research’s crash and safety team is integral in helping to reduce the consequences of road traffic accidents.

Crash safety is split into 2 key areas, Primary Safety and Secondary Safety. Primary Safety is the technology which attempts to avoid the crash in the first place. Secondary Safety is technology which helps the human occupant survive the forces of an inevitable crash.

Over the last 50 years, a primary focus of vehicle manufacturers has been in protecting the occupants of the car. The introduction of technology such as seatbelts, air bags and the innovative use of strong, lightweight materials in body construction have contributed to huge advances in this area.

The main focus today is on preventing the accident occurring in the first place and Thatcham Research has been at the forefront of many research programmes, working with manufacturers to refine the effectiveness of these Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) through the development of robust testing protocols and promotion of the technologies to the motoring public.

Perhaps two of the most important ADAS systems are Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC). As you’d expect, in line with Thatcham Research’s overall strategy, Thatcham Research has been integral in pushing forward the standard fit of these life-saving technologies. 

Both ESC and AEB are now an important part of Euro NCAP’s vehicle safety star ratings and Thatcham Research has developed testing protocols, research and data that enable the organisation to ascertain the performance of these systems on individual vehicles.

Crash Testing is another vital part of the research carried out at Thatcham Research to improve car safety for vehicle occupants. Following a substantial insurer investment, Thatcham Research’s crash laboratory was confirmed as a Euro NCAP accredited crash facility in November 2012. Thatcham Research can therefore carry out a variety of front, rear and side impacts on behalf of Euro NCAP and vehicle manufacturers.

Prevention or reduction of whiplash injuries has also been a major area of focus for Thatcham Research. Using specialist hi-tech equipment, Thatcham Research are able to establish the effectiveness of different seats and head restraints in preventing whiplash and have used this data to encourage vast improvements in design.