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Commercial vans in safety spotlight

Only two of 15 vans score a gold rating as ANCAP focuses on the vehicles as their use increases in the wake of Covid-19. PLUS – video
Posted on 17 December, 2020
Commercial vans in safety spotlight

The safety performance of commercial vans has come under scrutiny after ANCAP put such vehicles to the test for the first time.

Australasia’s independent voice on vehicle safety has taken 15 light and medium/heavy commercial vans and assessed their collision avoidance, or advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), capability. 

The comparison tests were spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic that has seen more commercial vans on the roads because of an increase in home delivery services and online purchases.

Only the Toyota Hiace and Ford Transit, pictured, achieved an overall collision avoidance rating of gold. Five vehicles scored a silver rating, and three collected a bronze.

The Hyundai iLoad, Renault Trafic, Mitsubishi Express, Renault Master and Iveco Daily were “not recommended” by ANCAP exerts because of their poor active safety specification.

Rhianne Robson, director – communications and advocacy, says: “Commercial vans generally operate with higher levels of exposure and hold a much longer economic lifespan due to their primary commercial-use and goods-carrying function, and this makes their active safety capability arguably even more critical than that of passenger cars.

“ANCAP’s influence over the passenger vehicle and SUV segments has seen a marked improvement in safety specification over the years – with great gains made with the fitting of active collision avoidance systems, and this analysis will now place a spotlight on the previously peripheral segment of the market which has noticeably lagged.

“Regardless of segment or intended use, we urge fleet buyers and consumers to prioritise the purchase and use of vehicles with active safety features.”

As part of ANCAP’s adoption of common test and rating protocols with Euro NCAP three years ago, it introduced the assessment of active, or collision avoidance, safety systems. This testing included a focus on low and high-speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane support systems, speed assistance systems and occupant detection systems.

However, due to generally longer product lifecycles for commercial vehicles, and the current scope of the ANCAP safety rating system covering smaller vehicles, many commercial vans on the market are unrated, or have ANCAP ratings that pre-date the introduction of ADAS testing.

“The results of this new analysis come at an important time,” explains Robson.

“Covid-related lockdowns across Australia and New Zealand have created a surge in demand for delivery services, and as a result, many areas have seen a rise in the number of commercial vans on the road.

“With the increasing number of van movements, the risk to other road users – in other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists – increases, so it is important fleets and van operators are aware of the heightened risk these vehicles pose to others.”

Crashes involving vans tend to be more severe for the opponent vehicle and vulnerable road users due to their design characteristics making them more “aggressive”.

According to the Monash University Accident Research Centre, commercial vans are 30 per cent more aggressive than the average vehicle fleet, and almost twice as aggressive as light cars.

For a summary of ANCAP’s commercial van test results, click here.