The Automobile Association and New Zealand Transport Agency have voiced concerns about the safety of light commercial vehicles following the 1-star rating for the Nissan Urvan that is sold in New Zealand
The rating was given to the Nissan Urvan by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).
Stella Stocks, AA General Manager – Technical Services, says that while passenger vehicles are now scoring consistent 4 and 5-star safety ratings, there needs to be equal emphasis given to commercial vehicle safety standards.
“Many New Zealanders spend a lot of time and drive thousands of kilometers in commercial vehicles, such as utes and vans, and these people deserve the same protection they receive when driving the family car.
“Owners and drivers of commercial vehicles, particularly large fleet operators, should be mindful of the safety these vehicles provide for drivers and passengers,” says Stocks.
The tested model of Nissan Urvan E25 was introduced to New Zealand several years ago.
The ANCAP crash test showed the passenger compartment lost structural integrity in an offset crash test conducted at 64km/h, offering poor protection for the occupants. There was a high risk of serious neck, chest, leg and foot injuries for the driver.
The ANCAP test also resulted in a leak from the diesel fuel tank. The top of the tank had been speared by the front suspension torsion bar, which displaced rearwards in the crash.
The AA and NZTA say while the safety of commercial vans has improved with a number of 4-star vans on the road, recent crash testing showed that drivers’ legs were still vulnerable upon impact.
NZTA’s Group Manager Access and Use, Ian Gordon, says commercial vehicles account for a large percentage of business and fleet purchases in New Zealand, and should be expected to provide their occupants with protection comparable to passenger cars.
"These vans are likely to be driven in a range of situations on New Zealand roads including being used by tradespeople and couriers. These people travel long distances due to the nature of their work and therefore are at greater risk of being involved in a crash than other drivers. Taking these factors into account, occupant protection and general safety in commercial vans should be a vital issue," says Gordon.
ANCAP has given 4-star ratings to the Mercedes Vito, VW Caddy Van and VW Transporter, a 3-star rating for the Toyota HiAce and a 1-star rating for the Mitsubishi Express.
Detailed crash tests are available on www.aa.co.nz or www.nzta.govt.nz