Australia to Implement Tough New Side-Impact Safety Regulations

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Australia’s strictest pole-side impact safety regulations for light passenger and commercial vehicles sold in the country have prompted some car manufacturers to pull popular, but noncompliant models from Australian market this fall.

According to the Australasian Fleet Management Association (AfMA), manufacturers have had a four-year grace period for older models to comply; the period dates from November 2017 for new model passenger cars and SUVs and since November 2018 for commercial vehicles, including vans and utility.

The Japanese brand Lexus announced in June it will discontinue the IS mid-size sedan, RC mid-size coupe, and CT small car in Australia by November. Other brands leaving the market are the Nissan GT-R supercar, Mitsubishi Mirage city car, and the Alpine brand of sports cars.

The regulations—ADR ADR 85/00 – Pole Side Impact Performance (ADR 85)—use more stringent test protocols and are aimed at reducing the risk of injuries and fatalities in side impact crashes with narrow road objects such as poles and trees. 

The new test protocols use anthropomorphic test devices to measure the potential for human injury, particularly to the head, shoulder, ribs, spine, and internal organs. The test also focuses on increased vehicle body strength and additional airbag protection to increase occupant safety in side-impact crashes.

Some manufacturers are modifying their vehicles’ engineering and structure, which may cause slight interruption in sales until they are fully compliant with ADR 85. The Toyota Land Cruiser 70 series, Fiat 500C, Abarth 595C, the Volkswagen Amarok, and Skoda Fabia fall into this category.

New models of the Kia Picanto and Stinger are already ADR 85-compliant and compliance forms for the Kia Rio and Stonic are awaiting approval from the Department of Infrastructure.

Older, non-ADR 85 compliant models may still be allowed on Australian roads if owners apply for conditional registration. The AfMA advises fleet managers to consult with their state or territory transport authority regarding a conditional registration.