The maximum potential benefits of safety systems on light van crashes in the United States

Cox, Aimee E. / Cicchino, Jessica B.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
April 2024

Introduction: The retail landscape has been shifting from traditional brick-and-mortar sales to e-commerce, which surged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Light vans are popular vehicles to meet the rising home delivery demands. In response, two New Car Assessment Programs developed van ratings programs based on their equipment status of safety features. This study was designed to estimate the maximum potential benefits that safety technologies could provide light vans based on their historical involvement in relevant crash scenarios.
Methods: We used U.S. crash data from 2016 to 2021 to estimate the average annual total (police-reported), injury, and fatal crashes light vans were involved in. We determined the proportion of total crashes where crash avoidance (front crash prevention, lane departure prevention, and blind spot detection) and intelligent speed assistance systems might help the driver prevent crashes or mitigate their severity. We then determined the proportions of injury and fatal crashes that resulted in an injury to someone not traveling in the light van.
Results: Of the systems studied, front crash prevention that includes pedestrian and cyclist detection was relevant to largest percentage of the annual light van crashes and could prevent as many as 17% of their involvements, 14% of their injury crashes, and 19% of their fatal crashes. Combined, the four systems have the potential to reduce up to 26% of commercial van crashes, 22% of their injury crashes, and 37% of their fatal crashes. Sixty-two percent of injury crashes and 56% of fatal crashes relevant to these technologies resulted in injuries or fatalities to occupants of other vehicles or other road users.
Conclusions: Beyond cars and SUVs, large vans are a growing market that can benefit from safety technology, especially when considering their impact on others with whom they share the road. Practical applications: People and business owners in the market for a light van should seek these systems. Aftermarket products can be installed on light vans not equipped with these systems to reduce the risk of causing crashes and injuries.

End of main content