Safety first: a brief overview of modern van safety features

Health and safety is always one of the most universal and pressing priorities for any business, no matter its sector or industry, and a principle that should guide almost every one of its major decisions regarding company assets. Your own business fleet is a prime example – as well as your vehicles’ fuel economy, range and maintenance costs, you’ll also need to regularly assess their level of safety, and whether there’s any room for improvement at all.

Now, seat belts and brake pads and toughened glass for windscreens are all good examples of time-honoured safety elements present in every van. But in the last few years, there’s been a rise in more advanced technologies designed to further enhance driver safety. Several of these technologies are collectively known as Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS). It’s a fairly loose term, but it’s broadly used to encompass any technologies that help the driver safely operate the vehicle, and cut down on the number of car accidents.

Many of these ADAS technologies are available as options on many of the vans you’ll find in our own cheap van deals here at Van Discount, such as the Ford Transit Custom. They don’t necessarily come as standard, but if you’re interested in any in particular, don’t hesitate to talk to a member of our team, and we’ll be happy to see what we can do! Here, let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular.

Lane departure warning or corrections

A lane departure warning, or LDW, is a driver assistance system with a simple concept, but one that utilises quite a lot of complex technology to make it work.

Now, the capabilities of individual LDWs can vary, depending on who made them, but they all share the same basic principle. Essentially, it uses sensors and / or cameras to track where your van is, relative to the white lane markings on the road. If the system determines that you’re too close to the lines, it’ll make you aware via some kind of alert – this may be through a flashing symbol on the instrument display for example, or a vibration through the seat or steering wheel. It may also stiffen up your steering, making it harder to accidentally drift into another lane.

That’s all very well, you may be thinking, but what happens if I actually want to change lanes? Well, the system is linked up to your van’s indicators, so essentially all you’ll need to do is turn the indicators on when you want to change lanes, and the system won’t trigger.

Automatic emergency braking

This one is a fairly straightforward one, and works on the same basic principle. Essentially, the system employs sensors to detect whether it looks like the driver is about to collide with another vehicle, upcoming obstacle, or – in the worst case scenario – an animal or vulnerable road user. It does this by constantly measuring the distance between the van and other nearby traffic, and alerting the driver to danger whenever it looks like something is getting too close for comfort (especially if it’s also in motion). If the driver reacts too late – or has no time to react in the first place – the system will engage the brakes.

Some of the more advanced systems will also have the ability to undertake further corrective actions too, such as tightening seat belts, reducing the van’s speed, or even engaging the van’s adaptive steering to avoid a collision.

Blind spot detection

This feature focuses on the area to the side of your vehicle that’s not typically covered by the mirrors. Light commercial vehicles can often have slightly bigger blind spots than regular cars (although not quite as big as HGVs), which means that commercial fleet managers and drivers tend to find this particularly valuable.

Blind spot detection systems have been compared to sonar in terms of the broad strokes of how they work, as they use ultrasonic sensors on the side and rear of the vehicle. These monitor nearby lanes and check when other vehicles enter your blind spot – even those as small and light as motorbikes or bicycles.

If the system spots an approaching obstacle, it’ll generally inform the driver with a flashing light on the wing mirror or internal front pillar, often accompanied by another warning sound, or light vibration in the steering wheel.

Driver monitoring systems / driver drowsiness detection

As you might expect, driver monitoring systems aren’t always quite as popular with drivers themselves, but if you’re reading as a fleet manager or business owner, it may be something worth considering to give yourself some peace of mind – especially if you’ve dealt with an incident that could have specifically been avoided with one of these systems.

Essentially, they’re designed to measure the driver’s attention with dedicated cameras, which are capable of analysing whether their attention is on the road, or drifting. If the system deems the driver not to be paying sufficient attention, it can alert them with various noises, vibrations or lights, similar to the other systems we’ve examined above.

Driver drowsiness detection works in largely the same way, analysing the movement of the driver’s head and heart rate. If that head begins to droop, or the heart rate begins to slow (or both), then once again the system will often utilise a network of sounds, lights or vibrations to focus the driver’s attention, at least long enough for them to pull over and have a proper rest.

Each one of these systems in isolation may well prove exceptionally useful for your business, and give you and your drivers some much-needed peace of mind too. If any of them are features you’d like including in any of your vans when you’re looking through our best van deals, don’t hesitate to let one of our team know, and we’ll be happy to advise. We always offer amazing deals on brand-new vans to cater to all your needs, including models by world-leading manufacturers including Ford, Peugeot and Renault.

We can save you up to 30% on selected models – so whether you’re a private buyer or a fleet manager, you can count on us to provide you with brilliant savings and a seamless buying experience. And if you’ve ever got any questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01282 872 530!