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Crash tests find van drivers legs vulnerable

17 FEBRUARY, 2009

CRASH tests on commercial vans by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) have found a high risk of serious injury, particularly to drivers’ legs.

ANCAP Victorian partners, RACV, VicRoads and the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), said while safety of some commercial vans had improved,  recent crash testing of vans showed that drivers’ legs were vulnerable upon impact.

ANCAP, Australia’s leading consumer vehicle safety advocate, crash-tests new vehicles and awards safety-star ratings based on internationally recognised protocols.

Although there are now several four-star rated vans available, the latest vans tested — the Ford Transit Van and Suzuki APV — achieved three-star safety ratings.

During crash-tests, the Ford Transit Van’s passenger compartment lost integrity in the frontal 64km/h offset test, showing “poor” protection from serious leg injury to the driver, as well as “weak” chest protection for driver and passenger.

The Suzuki APV’s passenger compartment held its shape reasonably well in the same frontal offset test, except for the foot-well, which demonstrated “poor” protection from serious leg injury for the driver.

“As a contrast, ANCAP released four-star ratings for the Mercedes Vito and VW Transporter in 2008, where there was just a slight risk of lower leg injury,” the Victorian ANCAP partners said.

“These four-star vans demonstrate that these types of vehicle can be designed to minimise leg injury.”

The partners said light commercial vans — our cities’ “work horses” — accounted for a large percentage of the nation’s business and fleet purchases, and that ANCAP believed they should be safer.

“Passenger vehicles are now scoring consistent four and five-star safety ratings, which is great news for private motorists and their families, but with so many commercial vehicles being sold in Australia we encourage manufacturers to make these high-use vans more safe,” the partners said.

ANCAP has released a range of ratings for light commercial vehicles via ANCAP or EuroNCAP, which incorporates the same crash-testing protocols. These include four-star ratings for the Mercedes Vito, VW Caddy Van and VW Transporter, a three-star rating for the Toyota HiAce and a one-star rating for the Mitsubishi Express.

ANCAP is supported by all Australian and New Zealand motoring clubs, Australian state governments, the New Zealand government, the Victorian TAC, the Insurance Australia Group and the FIA Foundation.

A full list of ANCAP’s vehicle safety ratings, including commercial vehicles and other vehicle safety information, is available at

Media contacts:

RACV:             Michael Case, 0417 119 408
VicRoads:        Natalie Wilcock, (03) 9854 2499
TAC:               Samantha Cockfield, 0418 316 749

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