Mike Stevens | Aug 12, 2009

LIGHT COMMERCIAL VEHICLES with low ANCAP safety ratings should be considered a serious occupational health and safety concern by companies buying work vehicles for employee use, the Australian New Car Assessment Program said in a report this week.

In all states in Australia, a vehicle used in the performance of work is recognised as a 'workplace', and employers are obliged to provide the safest possible workplace for employees.

ANCAP Chairman Lachlan McIntosh said this week that of nine light commercial vans tested to date, none have achieved the top 5-Star rating, and some have recorded scores as low as 1-Star.

“Real-world accident statistics show the risk of serious or fatal injury is halved in a 4 or 5-Star vehicle compared with a 1 or 2-Star rated vehicle," Mr McIntosh said.

"This means that one in every two fatalities in a poorly performing van could be prevented if the occupant had been in a 4 or 5 star vehicle."

The highest-scoring light commercial vehicles available in Australia are the Hyundai iLoad, the Mercedes-Benz Vito, the Volkswagen Caddy and the Volkswagen Transporter.

The Toyota HiAce, Australia's highest-selling van, offers an ANCAP 3-Star safety rating.

Ford's Transit and the Suzuki APV also achieved a 3-Star rating in ANCAP's crash tests.

At the bottom of the list, the Mitsubishi Express achieved only a 1-Star result, the lowest possible score.

“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," Mr McIntosh said.

“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."

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