According to Eurostat data, almost 90% of the UK has bought something online in 2019. Furthermore, the surge in home deliveries caused by Covid-19 has inspired a significant rise in the number of delivery vehicles on the road.
While current industry attention has so far been on rigorously maintaining van fleets to ensure continued safe operation, Euro NCAP are hoping to shift that focus to enhancing vehicle safety in the first instance and, where possible, avoiding accidents. To do this, the vehicle safety and research body has launched the world’s first Commercial Van Safety Rating. They applied Euro NCAP 2018 Safety Assist protocols to 19 of the most popular vans, which make up 98% of UK sales in 2019.
The organisation assessed the advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) of vans in the hope of inspiring greater take-up of crash avoidance technologies in new van orders, and encouraging standardisation of safety equipment ahead of 2024’s General Safety Regulation (GSR) for ADAS technologies. Euro NCAP claims that the ratings will help fleet operators to make safer choices and ultimately save money by reducing vehicle downtime and insurance premiums.
“Commercial vans are big and heavy compared to passenger cars so, if they crash, they can do a lot of damage and cause serious injuries to others,” says Euro NCAP secretary general, Michiel van Ratingen. “Active safety systems exist which can greatly reduce the likelihood of a collision with other cars, or with pedestrians or cyclists. These technologies are already commonplace on passenger cars but much less widespread on vans. Given the millions of vans on the roads, increasing the active safety systems fitted to commercial vehicles is key to improving safety for all road users.”
The new ratings system has also been met with approval from Highways England programme, Driving for Better Business, plus vehicle insurers.
“The fitment of AEB and other ADAS technology to vans could be a massive step forward in road safety, however fleet operators who don’t demand this technology could be missing out on the potentially huge associated business benefits,” says Simon Turner, campaign manager for Driving for Better Business. “Van fleet operators tell us their biggest concerns are the business disruption caused when vans are off the road for repairs and the rising cost of insuring their vans – often a result of their collision record.”
Jon Dye, director of underwriting for motor at QBE Europe agrees, “Making sure vehicles on the road meet certain standards and better utilise ADAS technology will help reduce accidents and improve road safety. This may also lead to a reduction in those insured and uninsured losses resulting from accidents, helping to reduce the overall cost to drivers and businesses as well as controlling insurance premiums in the long run.”