Majority of van drivers unaware of heavy load risks

Published 14 February 2019

Van drivers are putting themselves at risk because they don't understand the impact a heavy load has on their vehicle’s stopping distance.

A survey of 500 van drivers by Volkswagen found that more than half couldn’t identify how much longer it would take to brake when driving a loaded van, while just 17 per cent could correctly identify the Highway Code average 30mph stopping distance of 23 metres.

The survey found that, on average, van drivers carry at least half a tonne (500kg) of equipment on a daily basis which can extend the vehicle's stopping distance by a third. 

Volkswagen conducted a series of brake tests at the MIRA Proving Grounds in Nuneaton on its range of vans carrying varying weights from empty to 500kg at both 30mph and 60mph. 

"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."

The results revealed that, even at the lowest speed, braking distances increased by an average of 33 per cent when vans had half a tonne of ballast on board – equal to an extra two metres travelled. At 60mph, braking distances increased by an average of 19 per cent, or five metres.

“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,” said Carl zu Dohna, director of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.

“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.

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