New research from Volkswagen reveals some worrying statistics.

New research has shown that a number of van drivers aren't leaving enough room to stop safely, with more than half of commercial vehicle drivers not knowing the true impact of carrying a heavy load.

According to a survey of van drivers carried out by Volkswagen Commerical Vehicles last year, most van drivers carry as much as half a tonne each day. A payload that heavy can increase braking distances by up to 36 percent, which equates to an extra five metres of stopping distance at a speed of 60 mph.

Volkswagen Commerical Vehicles carried out a series of tests at the MIRA Proving Grounds, with its range of vans carrying differing payloads ranging from empty to 500 kg driving at both 30 mph and 60 mph.

The tests showed that at 30 mph braking distances increased by a third (33 percent) – an extra two metres of braking distance. At 60 mph, braking distances increased by 19 percent, or five metres.

More than half of van drivers don't know the impact their loads have on stopping distances

The survey carried out by the brand revealed that over half of van drivers couldn’t identify how much longer it would take to brake when driving a loaded van, and only 17 percent of those surveyed could correctly identify the Highway Code's recommended stopping distance for 30 mph.

"Our Working With You promise not only means building safe vans and supporting owners to keep them in good condition; we take our responsibilities to van drivers seriously and this research highlights a lack of knowledge that could prove lethal," said Carl zu Dohna, Director of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. "Braking distances in the Highway Code are based on an advised standard and don’t take into account the loads that many van drivers carry. Our research highlights an important safety message that van drivers could really benefit from."

More than half of van drivers don't know the impact their loads have on stopping distances

"Whether they’re plumbers, landscape gardeners or construction workers, our customers regularly carry half a tonne of equipment and need to be aware they need to adjust their driving style to avoid having a costly, and potentially serious, accident."

Matthew Avery, Director of Research at Thatcham Research, added: "This is an important message from a brand which is really leading the way in commercial van safety. We would also encourage van drivers to ensure that loads are well-secured, as movement of heavy items in the rear can also effect stability and stopping distance."

"This message follows 2017’s announcement that all of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ new vans will come with standard-fit Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), a first for a van maker."

Gallery: More than half of van drivers don't know the impact their loads have on stopping distances