New van safety ratings reveal ‘alarming’ lack of safety tech

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New tests that assess van safety have revealed an “alarming” lack of collision avoidance technology being fitted to commercial vehicles.

The Commercial Van Safety Rating from Euro NCAP and Thatcham Research examines both the fitment and performance of advanced driver assistance systems, such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB), speed limiting and lane-keep assist. To launch the new rating, 19 models of van – making up 98 per cent of the UK market in 2019 – have been put through the tests.

Of these, only three – the Volkswagen Transporter, Ford Transit and Mercedes Vito – were awarded a ‘Gold’ rating. Five other models achieved ‘Silver’, while a further six received ‘Bronze’.

Worryingly, five models didn’t even manage ‘Bronze’ a rating, meaning Euro NCAP now classes them as ‘Not recommended’. The Fiat Talento was the worst-performing van in the test, with a score of just five per cent. Second-worst the Vauxhall Movano, which only earned a score of eight per cent. Also scoring in the ‘Not recommended’ zone were the Renault Trafic (11 per cent), Nissan NV400 (13 per cent) and Renault Master (17 per cent).

Only 12.8 per cent of new vans featured AEB in 2019, compared with 62 per cent of new cars. This is in spite of AEB being shown to reduce rear end collisions by as much as 38 per cent. Vans are also involved in more fatal accidents per mile travelled than any other type of vehicle on UK roads.

European legislation will require all new vans to be fitted with certain advanced driver assistance systems by 2024, and Euro NCAP urged the Government to deliver on its promise of signing the UK up to these rules, and implored van manufacturers to take action before then.

The majority of commercial vehicle sales are business-to-business, meaning vans are generally targeted at fleet buyers who are sometimes happy to scrimp on optional driver aids in order to keep costs down.

Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham 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.”

Avery accused manufacturers of “withholding critical safety technology from their vans”. He added: “It’s a ridiculous situation because the systems already exist and could be fitted if they wanted them to be.”

Renault issued a statement, saying: “Safety is of the utmost importance in the development of all our vehicles. We have developed vans that offer passive and active safety features that meet the requirements of our professional customers and are compliant with all market regulations where they are sold.

“In the UK, a number of ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) features are offered as an option.  We continuously monitor our line-up to improve our products as well as the satisfaction and safety of our customers.”

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