The world’s first Commercial Van Safety Rating introduced by experts at Euro NCAP and Thatcham Research has identified dangerous flaws in many commercial vans.

It tested the fitment rate and performance of the active safety, anti-collision technology in 19 of the UK’s most popular vans, representing 98% of new van sales in 2019.

The Renault Master, Nissan NV400, Renault Trafic, Vauxhall Movano and Fiat Talento all performed so badly that they were handed a ‘Not Recommended’ rating. Only Volkswagen’s Transporter, the Ford Transit and Mercedes-Benz’s Vito scored a ‘Gold’ rating.

Matthew Avery, Thatcham Research director of research, said: “This first batch of test results show the fitment of crucial safety technology on vans in 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 and before Christmas.”

Vans are involved in more accidents that result in fatal injuries to other road users, per mile travelled, than any other type of vehicle on the UK’s roads. In the five years up to 2018, collisions involving vans were responsible for a 14% increase in the number of serious injuries to pedestrians, car occupants, and van occupants.

However, they are almost completely devoid of the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) that have been proven to reduce accidents when fitted to cars. For example, only 12.8% of new vans were fitted with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) technology as standard in 2019, compared to 62% of new cars.

Avery 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. It’s a ridiculous situation because the systems already exist and could be fitted if they wanted them to be.”

The new Commercial Van Safety Rating has been introduced to address this issue, with safety tests to be conducted annually. Meanwhile, new General Safety Regulation (GSR) legislation will require all new vans to be fitted with certain ADAS technology by 2024.