Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is urging other manufacturers to follow its lead and fit autonomous emergency braking (AEB) as standard.
Fitting AEB as standard on all commercial vehicles in the UK has the potential to stop almost 2,500 crashes per year, it said.
Analysis of Department for Transport (DfT) van accident statistics reveals 2,496 incidents involving vans weighing up to 3.5 tonnes could have been avoided if AEBs had been fitted - preventing 348 deaths and serious injuries.
Across the car industry, autonomous emergency braking has the potential to save 1,000 lives and 120,000 casualties over the next 10 years, with AEB leading to a real-world accident reduction of 38%, according to Thatcham Research.
Despite advances in technology, the number of road deaths hit a five-year high in 2017.
Since June 1, all buyers of a new Volkswagen Caddy, Transporter or Crafter have had autonomous emergency braking systems (Front Assist with City Emergency Braking) fitted as standard, making Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles the only manufacturer to offer the tech as standard across its van range.
Carl zu Dohna, director of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: “We are proud to be leading the way with AEB standard across our van range. Ensuring our customers have the safest and most reliable commercial vehicles is all part of our ‘Working with You’ promise.
“Autonomous emergency braking systems mean safer vehicles, fewer accidents and therefore reduced downtime and lower costs for fleets – as well as the potential to save lives. These are vital goals for any vehicle manufacturer.”
AEB systems also have the potential to cut third party insurance claims by 45% meaning lower costs and less time off the road for van drivers and fleet operators. Vehicles fitted with autonomous emergency braking also benefit from an average insurance premium saving of 10 per cent compared to those without.
The insurance rating of the all-new Crafter was reduced by four groups thanks to standard fitment of AEB.
Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham Research, said: “To date, Volkswagen is the only commercial vehicle maker offering AEB as standard across its entire van range.
“With the number of accidents involving vans increasing year on year, AEB’s proven ability to avoid and mitigate collisions should not be overlooked.”