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Would your car keep you safe in a car accident?

All new cars must legally meet minimum safety tests before they are sold. However, Euro NCAP, the European New Car Assessment Programme, aims to encourage manufacturers to exceed these minimum requirements and provide motoring consumers with a reliable, accurate and independent assessment of the safety performance of some of the continent's most popular makes and models.

The programme began in 1997 and is now supported by five European Governments, the European Commission and motoring and consumer organisations in all EU countries.

Ratings are given to a range of superminis, small family cars, large family cars, executive cars, roadsters and MPVs to see how well they would withstand a car accident and protect both passengers and pedestrians from serious personal injuries.

What do the crash tests involve?
Specifically, tests are given to determine how much frontal-impact protection, side-impact protection, side-impact head protection, child occupant protection and pedestrian protection particular cars offer so that manufacturers receive feedback and consumers receive comparative information that can be used when making purchase decisions. Read an overview of car accidents.

The car accident simulations involve the use of actual cars carrying both a dummy driver and dummy passenger. The two crash-test dummies used are: Hybrid III, to gather data from frontal-impacts and EuroSID II, to gather data from side-impacts. Both have steel structures, are covered with rubber skin and feature special sensing equipment.

During the crash, the dummies' bodies are thrown around and make contact with parts of the car, just as they would in a real-life car accident. The dummies therefore provide the experts with information about what happens during a crash, what personal injuries are sustained and they also provide insight into how safety features such as airbags can help prevent injuries and fatalities.

Information about head injuries, neck injuries, arm injuries, chest injuries, and trauma to the abdomen, pelvis, legs, feet and ankles can all be gathered from just one crash test.

What are the safest cars on the market today?
According to the Guardian and editor of What car? Magazine the top ten safest cars in 2004 were:

  1. Toyota Corolla Verso 1.8 VVT-I T Spirit
  2. Renault Modus 1.2 Expression 5DR
  3. Citroen C4 1.6 16V SX
  4. Renault Grand Espace 2.2DCI Expression
  5. Honda Civic 1.6I SE 5DR
  6. Toyota Prius 1.5 T3 5DR
  7. Volvo XC90 D5 S
  8. Vauxhall Astra 1.6 16V Life 5DR
  9. Renault Megane Coupe Cabriolet 1.9 DCI Dynamique
  10. Saab 9-3 Convertible 1.8T Linear

For more details about these cars please visit www.guardian.co.uk.

However, as of January 2006 the Euro NCAP tests became even more comprehensive to include ratings for whiplash injury protection during car accidents. Tests are now done using a dummy on a sled, an identical technique used by the experts at Thatcham. For details on their whiplash testing programme visit www.thatcham.org.

Euro NCAP are also to grade cars on their ability to avoid car crashes, with ratings given for safety systems such as active headlights and stability control.

Results for the crash tests carried out in February 2006 confirmed that the Peugeot 207 joined the ranks of Europe's safest cars with a maximum five star rating. The Alfa Romeo 159 was also awarded five stars for occupant safety but a meagre one star for pedestrian protection whereas the Suzuki SX4 and Hyundai Tuscon both pulled in four stars for occupant safety.

Making a car accident claim today
Regardless of whether your car has a safety rating of one or five, if you have been involved in a car accident and sustained personal injuries then we are here to help.

Our panel of expert personal injury solicitors have an excellent claim success rate and are at hand to offer you free legal advice and fight to get you the most compensation available for your car accident claim.

You can receive compensation for pain and suffering, lost earnings and even damage caused to your car when you claim through The Claim Solicitors.

We offer a no win, no fee service, which means that, if your claim is unsuccessful, you don't have to pay a penny. It means making a claim is a totally risk free process.

For further details or to make a car accident claim today call 0800 197 32 32.