Euro NCAP is urging vehicle makers to improve safety measures on van based minibuses and has also called on legislators to review “lenient” legal safety requirements.

The safety organisation has crash tested some of Europe’s best selling vans using protocols that are more true to life than the current legal tests for these van based vehicles.

In the tests, the Ford Transit Custom was the only vehicle to score five stars. The Hyundai H1 scored three. The Fiat Scudo also scored three stars while the Renault Trafic scored two stars.

Some of these vehicles are also rebadged and sold by other manufacturers. The Scudo is available as the Peugeot Expert and Citroën Jumpy. The Trafic is also sold as the Vauxhall/Opel Vivaro and Nissan Primastar.

Michiel van Ratingen, secretary general of Euro NCAP, said: “We focused on van variants that have eight to nine seats. These vehicles are often used for business or considered by families as alternatives to large MPVs. Being derived from commercial van platforms, these people-carriers are updated less regularly and are generally less equipped for safety than normal passenger cars.

“If you have a family with a lot of kids and are tempted to buy such a vehicle, please be aware that they often do not offer the latest state of the art in vehicle safety.”

Some manufacturers are responding to Euro NCAP’s call and have committed to better equip light commercial vehicles when sold as family cars.

The Transit Custom, designed with Euro NCAP’s protocol in mind, includes curtain airbags that improve protection in the severe pole side impact test. The vehicle also received recognition in Euro NCAP’s Advanced rewards scheme for offering lane keep assist as an option.

Fiat is making safety features such as the front passenger airbag and a speed limiter standard in more European markets. The Scudo’s Peugeot and Citroën sister models are getting the same.

Van Ratingen added: “We are optimistic that the safety of these vehicles will advance significantly in the next few years. By and large this is a neglected vehicle category that from a safety perspective is still immature.

“These vehicles have never had to be well equipped with safety technologies. Not all offer electronic stability control as standard and most provide poor protection for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians in the event of a collision.”