Vans found wanting in safety stakes

It’s always been the way in the automotive sector that vans lag behind passenger cars when it comes to equipment levels. In recent years we have seen a real change, where van drivers can rightly enjoy much of the interior comforts of their private car counterparts. It surely makes sense, given the many hours they are spending behind the wheel and the daily stresses of constantly making (or missing) deadlines. A happier workforce and all that …

It certainly makes sense when it comes to safety equipment, not least given the larger size and visibility of commercial vehicles.  That’s why the latest research from Euro NCAP and Thatcham Research is worth taking note of.

These two renowned organisations have been testing commercial vehicles for safety technology. Many have been found wanting. As a result, they are calling for the standard fitment of more advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) to vans.

In the test, 19 of the most common vans in the road were assessed on how well they can avoid collisions with other road users. It’s a sobering thought that fewer than 1 in 5 received the top ‘Gold’ rating. These were the Ford Transit, Mercedes-Benz Vito and VW Transporter.

By contrast, the Renault Trafic and Master, Fiat Talento, Opel Movano and Nissan NV400 were branded with a ‘Not Recommended’ rating.

The test evaluated the performance and fitment of emergency braking, speed limiter, lane support systems and seat belt reminder technology, with the vehicles on test having the highest level of safety equipment specified, not necessarily as standard.

According to AM Online, “research carried out by Thatcham found that only 12.8% of new vans featured Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), a system that warns the driver and can apply the vehicle’s brakes if it detects an imminent collision. The technology is estimated to reduce around 38% of rear-end collisions and also protects vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.”

AEB is now a standard feature on most cars, but clearly not on commercials.

Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham Research, said: “This first batch of test results show the fitment of crucial safety technology on vans is woefully low. It’s a serious issue that needs addressing urgently, particularly with van numbers increasing and the continued surge in demand for home deliveries during the pandemic.”

Renault was cited as an example of the divergence in safety equipment levels between cars and vans. Its five-star-rated Clio has much Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) technology that can save lives, yet the Trafic van has “practically nothing, not even as an option”.

New legislation will require all new commercial vehicles to be equipped with certain ADAS technology within the next 4 years. has a particular role to play in all this. Its suite of Mobileye collision avoidance products allows existing commercial vehicles and cars to be retrofitted with safety features such as Pedestrian Collision Warning, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Headway Monitoring Warning, Intelligent High-Beam and Speed Limit Indication.

Based on these Euro NCAP test results, it looks like they are sorely needed.

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How safe is the van delivering Christmas to your front door?