Good safety guidance van operators launched 

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), have launched a van maintenance campaign to help UK operators take better care of their vehicles and improve safe driving.

It comes after a Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) survey found that almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of the 10,800 vans it stops each year have serious mechanical defects. More than nine out of 10 (93 per cent) are overloaded.

Around half of all vehicles stopped posed a safety risk and were subsequently taken off the road at a cost to their owners of some £4,000 per day. Meanwhile, 50 per cent of vans also fail their annual MOT test first time, compared with just 22 per cent of HGVs, whose operators are bound by strict and costly licensing rules.

At last week’s Commercial Vehicle Show in Birmingham, the SMMT urged a step change in safety improvements to ensure van owners meet self-regulatory requirements and avoid the risk of fines and further legislation being imposed.

Currently, goods vehicles weighing less than 3.5 tonnes are exempt from the Operator Licensing regime that applies to heavier vehicles. The SMMT has been working closely with the DVSA and other industry stakeholders in the UK to ensure this exemption remains in place. To help this process, the SMMT has published an easy to follow van safety guide at www.smmt.co.uk/vansafety

Although there has been no move so far to make operator licensing rules apply to vans, the regulations and safety records around light goods vehicles are facing increased scrutiny in the UK. Industry is keen to ensure that a system is maintained so that costly licensing can be avoided, so long as safety records are improved. At current HGV fee levels, the collective industry bill for licensing in the UK could stretch to as much as £2.1 billion.