Crash test results on some small and compact popular vehicles sold to South Africa were disappointing. They were released by Global NCAP and the Automobile Association as part of a project called #SaferCarsforAfrica which aims to educate the public on vehicle safety.

Tests have been conducted in Landsberg, Germany, to highlight the use of technology to curb road fatalities.

Different vehicles have been tested – Hyundai i20, KIA Picanto, Toyota Yaris and  Nissan NP300.

The tests are aimed at encouraging manufacturers and importers of cars to Africa to improve safety level to cars sold to consumers.

In South Africa, road accidents are quite common. According to RTMC just over 14 000 fatalities were recorded in 2017. This is despite government spending R147 billion annually on road accidents.

South Africa has one of the highest number of road fatalities in the world. This does not compare well to countries with similar developed infrastructure and vehicle population.

The Global New Car Assessment Programme aims to improve public safety and avoid road deaths.  “The NCAP are basically to inform consumers that the systems are very effective, to inform and ensure consumers are educated and inform them in a very early stages when they decide to buy a car. With this information they can decide to buy a car according to safety levels,” says Technical Director, Alejandro Furas.

Some of the cars available in South Africa have different levels of safety and protection compared to those sold on the European markets.

The Hyundai i20 model achieved a three star rating for adult occupant protection but only achieved a two star rating for child occupants because it lacks an ISOFIX which holds down a baby seat.

“We found that some cars that are available in South Africa do have different levels of safety, different levels of protections, than same models that are offered in other markets. It’s critical to run tests on cars which are in the actual market, in this case South Africa,” says Furas.

AA South Africa says it is not just the responsibility of government to ensure public safety and enforce regulations for road users.

“I mean we absolutely think that perceptions can change, we think that over a period of time, people will stop buying cars purely on how they look, but because they are safe vehicles to drive in. But buying safe vehicles is only one part of it. We need safer roads in South Africa, designer roads, we need safer drivers, safer testing of drivers. So it’s a whole combination of things. We can’t start nowhere, we need to start somewhere. This is a very good place to start, with safer vehicles and certainly there can be a change of perceptions,” says AA South Africa’s Layton Beard.

When it comes to results, the most surprising is the Nissan NP300 hard body; the most expensive vehicle tested scored the lowest. The others achieved three stars for adult occupation; the Toyota Yaris also received three stars for child protection.

Global NCAP says until more vehicles are tested the issue of vehicle safety may be a much bigger problem throughout Africa.


For more on the Global NCAP car crash tests, Peter Ndoro spoke to AA South Africa’s Layton Beard …