The University of Adelaide’s new Vehicle Safety Laboratory will become the pedestrian crash impact testing facility for the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).

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Purpose-built for the University’s Centre for Automotive Safety Research (CASR) department and designed to European and global regulations, the pedestrian safety lab is the only facility of its kind in Australia.

CASR and ANCAP will use the lab for crash reconstruction, bull bar testing and development, vehicle interior impact testing, impact testing of energy absorbing materials, high-speed film capture and high-resolution data acquisition.

CASR Director, Prof Mary Lydon, said the new testing facility would assist the design of more pedestrian-friendly vehicles.

“It puts the spotlight on protection offered to pedestrians by different vehicle structures and means we can measure improvements and differences in safety,” Prof Lydon said.“Pedestrians make up a significant proportion of all road casualties, accounting within Australia for 16.5 percent of all road fatalities and 8.5 percent of all serious injuries.”

ANCAP Chair, Lauchlan McIntosh, said its work at the Vehicle Safety Laboratory would strengthen its reputation as an internationally recognised crash testing program.

“Pedestrian testing is a major part of ANCAP’s crash testing process, and these new CASR facilities will provide a better amenity for the pedestrian tests which form a part of the overall ANCAP safety rating,” Mr McIntosh said.

The opening of the new facility comes just weeks after the Federal Government withdrew from an international consultation into pedestrian safety standards, which aimed to put the dangers of bull bars under the microscope.

The parliamentary secretary for Infrastructure and Transport, Catherine King, announced late last month that the Government had decided to withdraw from the process and as a result would not ban bull bars.

“While the Government is committed to improving the safety of pedestrians, we also recognise that bull bars play a positive role in the safety of vehicle occupants,” Ms King said.

"In no circumstances will the Government consider banning bull bars or contemplate any lessening of the protection they provide.

“We are committed to ensuring that people remain fully protected in animal strikes and other hazardous situations where bull bars play a key role.”

But Mr McIntosh from ANCAP said the Government’s decision was shortsighted and compromised the introduction of internationally recognised standards aimed at protecting pedestrians.

“The Government should immediately withdraw its order to terminate the RIS process and continue its consultation process with industry experts and other interested parties,” Mr McIntosh said.“Only then will it be in a position to implement pedestrian safety initiatives which will save hundreds of lives.”

Ms King said she had asked the Infrastructure Department to consult with interested parties on other options for improving pedestrian safety.