Australia’s vehicle safety watchdog, the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has taken up the battle for better vehicle safety for the thousands of people who use light commercial vans as their work place.
ANCAP has called on major companies and fleet managers to examine State and Federal Occupational Health and Safety legislation to ensure they are providing a safe workplace in the LCVs they buy for employees.
Following the release of star safety ratings for a number of light commercial vehicles, ANCAP has voiced concerns that occupants of some vans are at a higher risk of serious injury in accidents than the safer-rated models.
ANCAP recently gave the Hyundai iLoad and iMax vans a four-star rating and the only other similar vehicles in Australia to have a four star rating are the Mercedes-Benz Vito and the Volkswagen Transporter and Caddy.
The top selling LCV van, the Toyota HiAce, has only a three star rating.
ANCAP Chair, Lauchlan McIntosh, said today that OH&S legislation clearly stipulates the responsibility of employers to ensure a safe working environment for employees.
“ANCAP has rated nine of these light commercial vans and to date we have not had one with the top five-star rating, some recording a safety rating as low as one star,” Mr McIntosh said.
“Light commercial vehicles don’t have to meet the same Australian vehicle safety regulations as cars, and this shows up in ANCAP rating results.
“Real-world accident statistics show the risk of serious or fatal injury is halved in a four or five star vehicle compared with a one or two star rated vehicle – this means that one in every two fatalities in a poorly performing van could be prevented if the occupant had been in a four or five star vehicle.
“Given the wide disparity in ANCAP results for commercial vehicles, it is no longer sufficient to use compliance with these regulations as a benchmark for safety.
“Clearly some vehicles are much safer than others and, in the event of a serious crash, fleet managers may have to justify why they did not choose a model with a higher safety rating if they decide to ignore the ANCAP safety ratings and purchase a model with a poor rating.
“We are concerned for the safety of drivers and passengers of these vehicles in the event of a collision and we believe there may be a point in law for ensuring these vehicles are safe for workers and, indeed, all road users.
“Our understanding of the OH&S principles is that there is an obligation on companies and fleet managers to ensure a safe workplace.
“Vans certainly constitute a workplace under the legal definition. We would urge fleet purchasers to examine the legislation and then factor safety into their fleet purchasing policies,” Mr McIntosh said.
For a full list of ANCAP’s vehicle safety ratings, including more commercial vehicles, and other vehicle safety information, go to www.ancap.com.au
All Australian and New Zealand motoring clubs, all Australian state governments, the New Zealand government, the Victorian Transport Accident Commission, NRMA Insurance and the FIA Foundation, support ANCAP.
The Volkswagen, Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz vans illustrated in this story all have a four-star ANCAP rating, the Toyota HiAce van has a three-star rating.