Euro NCAP, the European car safety testing agency, will begin assessing light commercial vehicles and car-derived vans from mid 2010.
The organisation’s technicians are currently developing the protocol for the van test, working with industry experts and vehicle manufacturers.
Ratings are likely to be similar to the car assessments, which changed this year from star ratings across three categories to one overall rating.
The ratings check safety for adult, child, pedestrian and safety assist.
However, the way tests are conducted are likely to change. Euro NCAP will need to decide whether to assess restraint systems, including bulkhead strength, and the impact of part-loaded or full vans compared to empty vans.
Cordelia Wilson of Euro NCAP told Fleet News: “We are trying to reach the entire market.
"Vans is an area where we can clearly make a difference.”
Euro NCAP will then look to address the new group of environmentally focused vehicles, such as electric models like the G-Wiz or Nice Mega City.
“It’s a natural progression,” Wilson said.
The organisation has had a massive impact on vehicle safety since its launch in 1997.
Manufacturers, who were initially dismissive of the new tests, have been forced to make safety an overriding priority – the public and fleets are demanding five start ratings.
Van manufacturers have been slow to adopt many of the innovations that are now commonplace on cars, such as traction control, brake assistance, speed limiters and tyre monitoring systems.
Often these safety items are offered as an option at best.
However, greater scrutiny by Euro NCAP will see safety become as big a priority for vans as it now is for cars.