New tests by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles have found that van braking distances can increase by up to 36% at 30mph, when the vehicle has a 500Kg payload.
The results coincide with a survey, carried out by the brand, which reveals that almost half of van drivers are unaware that heavy loads impact braking distances.
Most vans carry up to half a tonne of equipment on a daily basis, according to VW’s survey, which can increase braking distances by up to 36% - equal to an extra five metres to stop at 60mph.
The brand conducted a series of brake tests at the MIRA Proving Grounds in Nuneaton on its range of vans, with the Caddy, Transporter and Crafter carrying varying weights from empty to 500kg at both 30mph and 60mph.
The results revealed that 30mph braking distances increased by an average of 33% 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%, or five metres.
Carl zu Dohna, director of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: “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.
“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.”
Supporting the research, Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham Research, said: “We would also encourage van drivers to ensure that loads are well-secured, as movement of heavy items in the rear can also effect stability and stopping distance.”
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is the only manufacturer to offer Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) across its range as standard. Studies suggest that if the technology was fitted to all commercial vehicles in the UK, it has the potential to stop almost 2,500 crashes per year.