The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) says it will become tougher to earn high ratings under stiffer vehicle-safety requirements taking effect in 2017.

ANCAP says the standards increase pressure on auto makers to make their 1-, 2- and 3-star-rated vehicles safer.

Key elements include mandatory top-tether anchorages for child restraints in all light- commercial vehicles; seat belt reminders in front-row seats for 1-, 2- and 3-star passenger vehicles; minimum ratings for roof strength for 3-star vehicles; and pedestrian safety and whiplash protection for 1- and 2-star-rated vehicles.

The number of Safety Assist Technologies (SAT) will rise to a minimum of two for 1-star cars, three for two stars, four for three stars and five for 4-star cars. That means that by 2017, 1-star cars must have as many SATs as a 5-star car now does.

ANCAP-approved SATs include adaptive cruise control, automatic headlights, daytime running lights, lane-support systems and crash-avoidance technology.

The changes are part of ANCAP’s Rating Road Map launched in 2011 after consultation with the auto industry through the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries in Australia and the New Zealand Motor Industry Assn.

ANCAP Chairman Lauchlan McIntosh says the road map’s standards for the forthcoming 5-year period are meant to encourage the early adoption of vehicle-safety features into auto makers’ production processes.

Australia and New Zealand had a combined highway death toll of 1,600 people last year.

Vehicle safety is a crucial element in reducing the unnecessary loss of life on roads, McIntosh says in a statement.

“The development of vehicle-safety systems is moving forward at a rapid pace, and ANCAP is moving just as fast by ensuring manufacturers continue to include, and progressively increase, these life-saving technologies into their builds.”

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