Many van drivers don't know how heavy loads impact braking distances, according to research by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. The findings suggest that drivers may be risking accidents by failing to leave enough distance to stop.
Most vans carry up to half a tonne of equipment and goods each day, which can increase braking distances by an extra five metres.
But a survey by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles revealed that around half of van drivers are unaware of how much longer it would take to brake when driving a loaded van, and just 17% could correctly identify the Highway Code's recommended stopping distance for 30mph.
The manufacturer carried out a series of tests at the MIRA Proving Grounds in Nuneaton on its range of vans, with the Caddy, Transporter and Crafter carrying payloads ranging from empty to 500kg and driving at both 30mph and 60mph.
The results showed that 30mph braking distances increased by an average of 33% when vans were carrying half a tonne -- equal to an extra two metres travelled. At 60mph, braking distances increased by 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."
As well as carrying a heavy load, stopping distances can be increased due to poor weather conditions including rain, snow or ice. The condition of the road, the vehicle's tyres, and the alertness of the driver are also likely to affect the length of time it takes to stop.
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