Lack of braking distance knowledge could prove lethal

Van drivers are risking accidents by operating vehicles with heavy loads with no knowledge of the impact on stopping distances.

Volkswagen Van being loaded
Half a tonne of equipment can increase braking distances by up to 36%

Tests carried out by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles found that the majority of van drivers carry up to half a tonne of equipment on a daily basis which can increase braking distances by up to 36% – equal to an extra five metres to stop at 60mph.

But a survey revealed over half of van drivers couldn’t identify how much longer it would take to brake when driving a loaded van, while just 17% could correctly identify the Highway Code advised 30mph stopping distances.

Carl zu Dohna, director of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: “Braking distances in the Highway Code are based on an advised standard and don’t take into account the loads that many van drivers carry. Our research highlights an important safety message that van drivers could really benefit from.

“Whether they’re plumbers, landscape gardeners or construction workers, our customers regularly carry half a tonne of equipment and need to be aware they need to adjust their driving style to avoid having a costly, and potentially serious, accident.”

Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham Research, urged drivers to take notice of the findings: “This is an important message from a brand which is really leading the way in commercial van safety. We would also encourage van drivers to ensure that loads are well-secured, as movement of heavy items in the rear can also effect stability and stopping distance.

“This message follows 2017’s announcement that all of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ new vans will come with standard-fit Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), a first for a van maker.”

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Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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