Initiated by Australia at the United Nations’ 150th session of the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations in 2010, the new regulation is intended to reduce the high number of fatalities that occur in side impacts with narrow objects.
In Australia, side impact crashes account for 28 per cent of fatalities on the road and 25 per cent of injuries. According to the Monash University Accident Research Centre - which worked with the Australian Department of Infrastructure to propose the new regulation - vehicles equipped with airbags for the side, head and thorax brought a 51 per cent improvement in survivability.
The Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) and the Australian Automobile Association were also involved in research and funding for the proposed regulation.
The new United Nations Global Technical Regulation (GTR) 14 was developed over five years, under Australia’s chairmanship, to bring uniformity to the varied crash testing methods and technologies used around the world in regulation and in voluntary standards.
Governments involved in the GTR’s creation include Canada, China, the European Commission, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, the UK and the US, but Australia is the first to introduce the regulation.
The new regulation, integrated as a new Australian Design Rule (ADR), has been also endorsed by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).
“Australia should be proud of its international leadership to develop this global regulation which will improve occupant protection in side impact crashes such as hitting a tree at the side of the road,” ANCAP CEO James Goodwin said.
ANCAP has required side impact testing in order for vehicles to be eligible for a 5-star safety rating since 2003, which Goodwin said has motivated carmakers to increase fitment of curtain airbags.
Thanks in part to this new regulation, the minimum requirements for satisfying ANCAP’s side impact test will soon become even tougher.
“We work to continually raise the safety bar in the vehicle fleet and will modify the pole side impact test from 2018 to make it more demanding for new vehicles to be able to earn a 5 star safety rating,” Goodwin said.
The new rules will come into effect in November 2017 for passenger vehicles, and November 2018 for light commercial vehicles.