Take one of Mercedes-Benz’s new Sprinters down an exposed stretch of motorway and into a howling gale that’s blowing straight across it and it is likely to remain unmoved by the experience – quite literally. That is because the Sprinter is equipped with crosswind Assist as standard as part of its electronic Stability Programme. The idea is to prevent the van from being blown into an adjacent lane and into the path of another vehicle.

The van also comes with a host of other safety packages that are listed as options, and Mercedes- Benz’s commitment to preventing accidents embraces all the other models in its LcV line-up. That’s why we have handed Mercedes our Safety Award for 2015.

Returning to those Sprinter options, one well worth considering, especially if you tackle a lot of city centre delivery work, is Blind Spot Assist. designed to minimise the risk of colliding with cyclists and other vulnerable road users, it employs a red triangle that lights up in either the nearside or the offside mirror as appropriate. Ignore it and indicate to pull out and the triangle will begin to flash to the accompaniment of a warning buzzer.

Also on offer are Lane Keeping Assist and Highbeam Assist. The former jogs you into wakefulness if you become drowsy at the wheel and start drifting out of your lane while the latter prevents you from dazzling other drivers at night.

Yet another safety package worthy of celebration is collision Prevention Assist. If you are travelling down the motorway at a rate of knots and fail to slow down with slow-moving traffic ahead – maybe the traffic is shrouded in
fog – then the radar-based device will alert you to the danger. Slam on the anchors and Adaptive Brake Assist will ensure they are applied to maximum effect.

Due to go on sale on this side of the channel in 2015, the all- new Vito comes with Crosswind

Assist as standard too, and with another standard safety feature: Attention Assist. Active at speeds above 50mph, it gauges the driver’s alertness through a variety of sensors that detect inconsistent behaviour that could be caused by fatigue on a long journey.

Blind Spot Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Collision Prevention Assist are offered as options, as is Active Parking Assist – the first time it has been made available on a van, says Mercedes. As its name suggests, it will steer you into a parking space.

Another safety-related option is Intelligent Light System. Offered as an alternative to standard halogen headlamps and including Highbeam Assist, it is made up of LED indicators, LED daytime running lights and Led headlights with a cornering function. depending on road speed, the headlight beam adapts to its surroundings according to whether it is illuminating motorways or rural roads by varying the light distribution.

Mercedes vans come with the usual alphabet soup of electronic safety devices that protect all LCVs nowadays. That is as much the case with the Citan as it is with Vito and Sprinter. Based on a Renault Kangoo platform, it too comes with a list that includes thorax airbags and an ultrasonic reversing aid. Both are well worth specifying.

Safety systems have to be combined with exemplary handling and efficient and effective foundation brakes if they are to work to their best advantage. Fortunately, these are characteristics to be found all the way across the Mercedes range.

Did you know?

Mercedes-Benz’s pioneering focus on LCV safety technology has seen it take the What Van? Safety Award for four consecutive years.


Highly commended – Freight Transport Association Van Excellence programme

Backed by many of the country’s biggest and best-known light commercial fleets and quite a few of the smaller ones, the Freight Transport Association’s Van Excellence programme exists to promote operational excellence. Those who sign up to its code are expected to uphold the highest-possible standards; especially when it come to safety.

Among other things that means ensuring that drivers do not break the speed limit and that vehicles are regularly maintained by qualified technicians; sound reasons for gifting the Van Excellence initiative our Highly Commended award. What Van? would urge all readers to investigate the advantages of becoming involved in this praiseworthy programme.