Terrifying old vs new car crash shows how far we've come
This month marks an unspeakably boring, but very important anniversary: it has been 20 years since European crash test standards were refreshed and updated, making our roads dramatically safer. Thrilling stuff!
Why do I care?
Pre-1998, the motoring industry was the Wild West as far as road safety goes. Crash test standards were horrendously outdated and most brands were perfectly happy doing the bare minimum required of them - rather than voluntarily investing more money into making their cars safer than they were legally required to be.
Back then, safety was a premium feature found only on top end cars - like leather seats or electric windows. If you wanted a car that wouldn’t crumple like tinfoil and kill you instantly in the event of a minor crash, you had to be rich enough to buy from a posh brand - like Rolls and Merc - or sensible enough to buy a Volvo. Pretty much everything else on the road was a deathtrap, particularly the sort of cheap and cheerful superminis that most inexperienced new drivers buy as their first car.
Then in 1998, the European New Car Assessment Programme, AKA EuroNCAP, AKA a group of safety-conscious Swedish chaps, decided that after 24 years without change, it was time to bring crash test standards up to speed. Overnight, the minimum requirement for car safety was sharply raised, and if a car performed poorly it was publicly shamed with a 1 star rating. EuroNCAP’s methods were (and to this day are) far from perfect - but we should be grateful that 20 years ago, they forced manufacturers to up their game and in doing so ensured that you no longer have to be wealthy to buy a car built with your welfare in mind.
I’m bored. Show me some sweet crashes.
Oh alright then. To illustrate just how far car safety has come in the past two decades, EuroNCAP shared this video a few days ago, showing a head on collision between a 1998 Ford Fiesta and a 2018 Ford Fiesta. The results speak for themselves...