The Australasian New-Car Assessment Program is raising the bar for its star-based ratings system.

After six months of negotiations, the independent vehicle-safety assessor in Australia and New Zealand says it has established a timetable for the progressive inclusion of new crash-test performance standards and safety-assist technology in its assessment system that awards a maximum five stars.

ANCAP says it is working with industry players – including the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries – to finalize plans to ensure the new assessment program, dubbed “Roadmap,” will encourage the introduction of safer cars and technologies.

“Over the next few years, crash-test performance standards will be raised to incorporate pedestrian safety, whiplash protection and roof strength into the overall star rating,” the organization says in a statement.

In addition, minimum standards will be set for the progressive inclusion of life-saving safety-assist technology such as electronic stability control, daytime running lights, emergency brake assist, collision avoidance, lane-departure warning, driver fatigue systems and intelligent speed assist.

ANCAP Chairman Lauchlan McIntosh says many of these systems are being introduced by auto makers, and the improved ratings will help new-car buyers, from fleet owners to families, understand safety technologies and assess their benefits.

Roadmap takes its lead from recent rating-system changes introduced by EuroNCAP.

“ANCAP is also working with its crash-testing colleagues in Japan, South Korea, China, the U.S. and Malaysia to further improve vehicle safety around the world,” McIntosh says.

McIntosh says ANCAP is continuing to grow in its role as the independent vehicle-safety advocate.

He cites increasing industry promotion of the organization’s ratings in advertising campaigns, as well as a recent $5 million ($4.7 million), 5-year partnership with the Australian government to increase the number of crash tests and the level of research into vehicle safety.

ANCAP is supported by Australian and New Zealand motoring clubs, the two countries’ federal governments, all Australian state governments and the Victorian Transport Accident Commission.