RAC Cars News


How Thatcham Helps To Keep Insurance Costs Down

By raccars Published

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It's not only Hollywood stuntmen or 'crash for cash' fraudsters who get paid to crash cars. Crash test experts also crunch metal on a daily basis to make driving safer for all of us. Thatcham was founded in Berkshire in 1969 and runs one of the seven crash test facilities approved by Euro NCAP.

A large part of its work is performed in the laboratory, where six cars are tested on behalf of Euro NCAP every year. For each model to be tested, four examples are delivered to the lab as guinea pigs for three different tests: a 64kph/39mph front crash with a 40% offset, a 50kph/31mph sideways impact into a moving barrier and a 29kph/18mph crash into a static pole.

According to Thatcham, the moment of impact in the crash test is only a small part of the process. Exquisite levels of detail go into the preparation to make sure all variables are correctly set for the crash test. A car may undergo a week of preparation before being subjected to the actual test and Euro NCAP only receives the results after several days have been spent analysing the data.

Crash testing processes are constantly being updated to keep pace with changes to modern cars, which are stronger and more robust than ever. The downside of cars being able to withstand greater impact forces is that occupants of the vehicle are exposed to higher forces of deceleration, which can be dangerous to smaller passengers.

Thatcham uses the Hybrid III crash test dummy, representing the average male of five foot nine inches tall and 80kg in weight. Each one costs £100,000 and has been developed specifically to measure the effects of a frontal impact. A larger male dummy, a female and two children are also available in the range. However, the WorldSID dummy is even more sophisticated and expensive, at £300,000. It measures the effect of sideways collisions upon the ribs, spine and internal organs, and the effect of deceleration upon the ribs, spine and chest cavity compression.

To measure how impacts can cause whiplash, Thatcham uses one of only two Hyper G sleds in the world, costing £1 million. It recreates the effect of a low speed collision upon human passengers and is considered an essential tool by insurance companies to combat whiplash fraud.

Thatcham Research is a non-profit facility, funded by insurers to help them cut claim costs, which ultimately, helps drivers to lower insurance premiums.

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