Ten new van safety features to become law by 2022

Just one-in-10 new vans on sale today feature lifesaving technology that is set to become mandatory across all cars and vans by 2022, according to exclusive analysis by What Car? magazines review of vans.

It says that van fatalities have dropped by 38 per cent in Britain since 2007 against a 24 per cent rise in the number of registered vans on the road, but the findings show there is still plenty of room for improvement.

While some van manufacturers are fitting important safety features, such as automatic emergency braking (AEB ) to their vehicles, 88 per cent of all vans on sale in the UK today do not meet any of the upcoming European Commission proposed safety standards. This situation would be largely similar in Ireland,

What Car? Vans analysed every van derivative on sale in the UK. That included every single van and pick-up derivative currently on sale in the UK, including their trim variations. In total, nearly 230 different van and pick-ups were analysed as part of the research.

And while many top-of-the range examples come fitted with multiple safety features as standard, lower specification models typically do without the potentially life-saving technologies.

The European Commission has proposed to make eight safety technologies mandatory across new cars and vans by 2022. These include driver drowsiness and distraction alerts, intelligent speed assistance, reversing cameras or sensors, data recorder in case of an accident, lane-keep assistance, advanced emergency braking, and crash-test improved safety belts.

What Car’s analysis found just 12 per cent of all new vans on sale have one of the eight mandatory safety technologies as standard, while only one in five vans come with at least one of the eight as an optional extra.

AEB, which automatically applies the brakes if it senses an imminent collision, is standard in one-in five of the 228 new vans and pick-ups on sale in the UK. Studies by Euro NCAP, the European vehicle safety standards agency, previously found AEB reduces real-word rear-end collisions by 38 per cent.

Other technologies, including ‘Lane Keeping Assistance’, which automatically keeps vans on the centre of the lane, was available as standard in only two per cent of all new vans on sale, and an optional extra in 18 per cent.

New technologies, including ‘Intelligent Speed Assistance’, which helps drivers to avoid exceeding the speed limit, and automatically slows the vehicle down when the limit drops, is found in just three per cent of new vans on sale, while crash-test improved seat-belts and accident data recorders are not fitted as standard to any van currently on sale in the UK.

Despite van drivers in Britain covering on average 13,000 miles a year, driver distraction and drowsiness alerts were standard on just one-in-10 vans on sale, and an optional extra in 11 per cent.

In 2012, Euro NCAP tested some of Europe’s best-selling vans and called on “manufacturers to offer these vehicles with higher levels of safety equipment” after many of the models tested were found to lack basic safety equipment such as electronic stability control (ESC ).

Van manufacturers have since made improvements to driver, passenger and pedestrian safety. In the latest Euro NCAP tests, for example, the Ford Transit achieved a five star rating.

Jim Holder, editorial director of What Car? Vans, said: “There are more than four million vans on the road today. Van drivers shouldn’t be waiting for legislation to come into force to have access to the latest safety tech as standard. Though the industry has made strides in recent years, it clearly still has a lot more work to do.”


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