Too many van drivers have accidents when they are reversing; and the impact may result in somebody being badly hurt or even fatally injured. At best, it may mean damage to another vehicle or perhaps a piece of street furniture, and potentially expensive damage to the van itself.

Such damage may not always be covered by the owner’s insurance.

For many years, Hope Technical Developments has been protecting the backs of vans with its invaluable aftermarket Safe-T-Bar. It has never ceased work on improving its products, and has recently come up with a clever innovation; integration of the van manufacturer’s own reversing sensors into the Safe-T-Bar under the Sensor Connect banner, helping to prevent expensive collisions.

That alone makes it more than worthy of our Aftermarket Accessories Award for 2022. 

The approach Hope Technical Developments takes to integrating the sensors means that there is no need for the van’s wiring to be cut. As a consequence, the vehicle’s on-board management system does not have to be compromised.

Made from high-tensile cold-formed steel, Safe-T-Bar can easily be fitted to the vehicle’s existing chassis mounts, says the company. The bar’s front recess boasts a distinctive red reflective strip, which should make the van easier to spot at night and during the day if the light is poor.

Three variations are available; a straight bar, a bar that includes a recessed step, and one that incorporates a Type Approved tow-bar.

Hope makes the point that a light commercial that suffers repeated damage from reversing accidents will end up spending a lot of time in a repair workshop. The reality is, if it is stuck in a workshop, it is not earning the owner money. 

Failure to get damage fixed affects the public’s perception of the owner (who wants to do business with somebody who runs round in a bashed and battered vehicle?), and has implications for residual values. Never forget either that there are implications for the van’s roadworthiness if the damage is serious enough.

Hope has also come up with the Safe-T-Step. Fabricated from mild steel, and said to be lighter than most steps on the market, it too helps protect the rear of the vehicle while providing a safe and dependable platform for loading and unloading.

Again like Safe-T-Bar, it is marketed in various different formats. The line-up includes an extra-deep step with a lift-up tow-ball cover, and a side step to aid entry through a side loading door.

All the steps feature high slip resistance, says Hope. 

Making it easier for a driver to climb into and out of the back of a vehicle certainly makes sense from a health and safety viewpoint. 

It means slips, trips and falls resulting in injury and time off work – and potential legal proceedings as a consequence – are less likely. It also reduces the risk of repetitive strain injury if the individual has to climb in and out of the load area umpteen times a day because of the nature of his or her work; a challenge regularly faced by drivers who deliver parcels.

Highly Commended: Rhino Products


Transporting piping can be a challenge, especially if you operate a light van, because the load area may not be long enough. You can carry it on a roof rack instead, but if you do so you run the risk of it being stolen – especially if it is copper – or suffering damage.

So what’s the answer? Keep carrying it on the roof, but put it in a lockable pipe tube of the type supplied by Rhino Products – an approach that What Van? highly commends.

Rhino hasn’t simply introduced a lockable tube and left it at that. It has added an optional full-length PVC lining to its PipeTube Pro tube to stop the galvanic reaction that may take place, potentially discolouring the pipes stored inside. A new rubber O-ring seal helps to prevent water ingress and an upgraded locking system has been fitted; thieves are seldom if ever idle.