Van safety put to the test 

The world’s first Commercial Van Safety Rating reveals shortcomings in some of the UK’s favourite vehicles.  

vans at the dealership

Nineteen of the UK’s favourite vans – representing 98% of new van sales in 2019 – were independently tested as part of the new safety rating which assesses the fitment rate and performance of a van’s active safety, anti-collision technology.

Thatcham and Euro NCAP highlighted how few vans have the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) that reduces accidents when fitted to cars. 

Over four million vans were on UK roads in 2019, according to the Department of Transport and DVLA. and that number continues to grow due to the increased number of home deliveries. However, only 12.8% of new vans had Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) technology as standard in 2019, compared to 62% of new cars.

The new Commercial Van Safety Rating test will now happen yearly and looks at the performance and fitment of:

  • Emergency braking
  • Speed limiter
  • Lane support systems
  • Seat belt reminder technology

In the first test, three vans earned a Gold rating: 

  1. VW Transporter with a performance score of 65%
  2. Ford Transit - 63% 
  3. Mercedes-Benz Vito - 61%

Both the Transporter and Vito are fitted with AEB as standard, in the UK. The next five vans were rated ‘Silver’ and the following six ‘Bronze’. 

The bottom five vans - Renault Master, Nissan NV400, Renault Trafic, Vauxhall Movano and Fiat Talento - all performed so badly their rating is ‘Not Recommended’.

Commercial Van Safety Rating

  1. Volkswagen Transporter T6.1 (65%) 
  2. Ford Transit 2T (63%) 
  3. Mercedes-Benz Vito (61%)
  4. Ford Transit Custom (58%)
  5. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (52%)
  6. Volkswagen Crafter (44%)
  7. Peugeot Expert (44%)
  8. Vauxhall Vivaro (42%)
  9. Citroën Dispatch (37%)
  10. Toyota ProAce (35%)
  11. Peugeot Boxer (33%)
  12. Citroën Relay (32%)
  13. Iveco Daily (30%)
  14. Fiat Ducato (28%)
  15. Renault Master (16%) - not recommended
  16. Nissan NV400 (12%) - not recommended
  17. Renault Trafic (11%) - not recommended
  18. Vauxhall Movano (7%) - not recommended
  19. Fiat Talento (5%) - not recommended

Matthew Avery, Thatcham Research Director of Research, said: “There is a definite lack of parity between the levels of collision avoidance technology on vans compared to cars. 

“Modern cars have lots as standard, but vans have barely any. Brands are making a clear decision not to fit this important technology as standard and van operators are not even buying it as a cost option.

“The lack of parity even exists within the same manufacturers. Take Renault, for example. Its five-star-rated Clio has lots of standard fit Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) technology that can save lives. But its Trafic van has practically nothing, not even as an option.”

“We want to see more collision avoidance technology fitted as standard and readily available long before then.

“Decisive action will reduce van collisions, create greater parity between cars and vans, and help to protect the public from serious injury and death as more vehicles on our roads will have lifesaving technology.”

Accident data shows shortcomings

Accidents involving vans cause more fatal injuries to other road users than incidents involving any other vehicle on UK roads. 

Thatcham’s analysis of DfT Road Safety Data found that in the five years up to 2018, collisions involving vans caused a 14% increase in serious injuries to pedestrians and car and van passengers. Cyclist casualties rose by 22% too.

And if car occupants are involved in a head-on incident with a van, they’re 40% more likely to be killed or seriously injured than if the incident involved another car.

New General Safety Regulation (GSR) legislation will mean all new vans must be fitted with certain ADAS by 2024. 

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