Curtain Airbags Should be Used for Head Protection in Vehicle Side Impacts


Latest crash test results released today show that airbag protection for the head should be encouraged when purchasing vehicles to protect against serious injury in vehicle side impacts


On releasing the results MrLauchlan McIntosh, Chair of the Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) and Federal Roads Minister Jim Lloyd said curtain airbags would provide head protection against side impacts with poles and high vehicles such as 4WDs.


“Safety is paramount on our roads these days and all drivers must be vigilant and responsible when using our roads in any type of vehicle,” Mr Lloyd said.


"Research shows that since the introduction of the Australian Government’s ten-year National Road Safety Strategy in 2001, there’s been an overall 18 per cent reduction in the road fatality rate, putting us well on track towards our targeted 40 per cent reduction by 2010.

"The statistical trends are good, and additional safety measures in vehicles are constantly being upgraded but road trauma persists at shocking levels and we can't afford to be complacent – responsible drivers are survivors."

Announcing the results, Mr McIntosh said they showed that vehicles with effective curtain airbags provide good occupant protection in pole-type impacts, whereas in those without curtain airbags, the occupants are at high risk of a fatal head injury.


The vehicles tested were the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Nissan X-Trail, Nissan Patrol and Toyota Landcruiser, all without any side head airbags, theMitsubishiPajerowith a chest airbag only, and the Mazda Tribute with a side airbag including a head protection extension.


The Toyota RAV4 and Toyota Prado were tested with and without curtain airbags, and the Lexus RX330 had curtain airbags as standard fitment.


ANCAPhas previously tested theSubaruForester, which has head protecting side airbags as standard equipment.


“ANCAPwould like to see all vehicle manufacturers provide dual front, side chest and head airbags in all their models, preferably as standard equipment, but at least as a stand-alone option without being combined with extra items, which increase cost.”


MrMcIntoshsaid that these 4WDs, were pole tested as part of theANCAPprogram.  The pole test process consists of the vehicle hitting a steel pole, lined up with the driver’s head, at 29 km/h sideways to measure the effectiveness of head protection side airbags.


“These tests are part of a multiphase program of differing vehicle classes that includes crossover vehicles such as Territory and Adventra.  WhileANCAPwill conduct additional tests and publish an overall star rating later this year, it was decided to release these results as they show the importance of head protection in 4WDs,” he said.


“Research from the US and elsewhere indicates that electronic stability control reduces run-off-road crashes by more than half - this has the indirect benefit of reducing roll-over crashes which often occur after vehicles leave the road.  These crashes are associated with high levels of injury and fatality.


“ANCAPadvises buyers of new vehicles to specify electronic stability control where it is available, particularly on high vehicles such as 4WDs, to minimise the risk of being involved in a crash in the first place.”


ANCAPalso advised vehicle buyers to specify ABS brakes where they are optional.  The attached table details the safety equipment fitted to the tested vehicles. ANCAPis supported by all Australian and New Zealand motoring clubs, all Australian state governments, the New Zealand government and the FIA Foundation.




Driver  and Pass front airbag

Driver & Pass side chest airbag

Driver & Pass side head airbag


Electronic Stability Control

Ford Escape




Mazda Tribute


Honda CR-V




Mitsubishi Pajero




Nissan Patrol

✔ (Driver)






Nissan X-Trail




Lexus RX 330

Toyota Landcruiser





Toyota Prado










Toyota Rav 4





Subaru Forester




✔                  Standard across full range of variants

✔(Upper)       Standard on upper specification variants only (not available on base model)

Opt                Available as optional order on at least base model (may be part of an options package)

S/Pack           Part of special safety pack option on upper specification variant only

Blank             Not available

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