Exclusive research commissioned by Mercedes-Benz Vans UK Ltd has established a clear motoring manifesto, highlighting the wishes of the nation’s van drivers to the new Government.
The research, conducted amongst 2,000 van drivers, owners and operators, highlighted that two thirds have had to pay for van repairs in the last 12 months as a result of pothole damage – the average cost of this damage is £411 over the past year. Nearly one in 10 (8%) have had to spend £1,000 or more repairing vans as a result of pothole damage in the past year alone.
It’s not surprising then that pothole repair tops the list of priorities the nation’s van drivers want addressing urgently. Six out of 10 say this should be the priority for the UK’s road network, ahead of better parking provision in towns (43%) and investment in bypasses to remove bottle-necks (34%).
The full list of road policy priorities – what the van driving/owning community want to see – are;
- Pothole repair: 60%
- Better parking provision in town: 43%
- Investment in bypasses to ease bottlenecks: 34%
- Widening motorways: 24%
- Increased traffic police presence: 19%
- Fewer speed cameras: 17%
- More speed cameras: 16%
- Better training for professional drivers: 14%
- Abandoning Smart Motorway schemes: 6%
- More toll roads: 4%
While only 6% think abandoning Smart Motorways should be a priority and a quarter think widening our motorways should be a priority, more than a third of van drivers, owners and operators say they are unsure or do not know how a Smart Motorway works, with just 28% say they definitely know how a Smart Motorway works.
Congestion is also highlighted within the survey as a critical issue for the new Government to address.
Delivery drivers say, on average, that 15% of their working day is lost due to congestion. Based on a (conservative) 8 hour working day, this equates to 1 hour 12 minutes a day or 6 hours a week lost due to congestion.
Rates are similarly high amongst tradespeople (12% of their working day is lost to congestion) and service engineers (13%), while fleet managers estimate 14% of their workforce’s time is lost as a result of congestion.
Despite its well established Congestion Zone, lost time as a result of congestion is most pronounced in Greater London, where 16% of a working day is lost to congestion, according to the Mercedes-Benz Vans survey.
However, the real cost of congestion is made clear by the 61% of respondents who say that they – or the company they work for – has lost business or customers as a direct result of congestion.
This figure peaks at 82% in Greater London and 66% in the West Midlands, while 75% of delivery divers say they have lost business as a result of congestion.
Steve Bridge, Managing Director, Mercedes-Benz Vans UK Ltd, commented: “With almost 4.2 million van drivers on our roads – around one in 10 of all vehicles on our highways – the voice of this important group of motorists needs to be heard. Our research clearly highlights that potholes and congestion actually cost these hard-working business men and women serious amounts of money, both in repair bills and time lost, which isn’t acceptable.
“We are urging van drivers therefore, to report any potholes they come across to the local council – while it may seem time-consuming, there are a number of ways to do this online and via apps to help alert to and ultimately fix the issue.
“If hitting a pothole is unavoidable, drivers of Mercedes-Benz vans can have their vehicles checked over by booking into one of our nationwide Dealer network workshops and having a free, no-obligation Visual Health Check by one of our Mercedes-Benz trained technicians, who will carry out a thorough visual inspection. This means that issues can be spotted before they become an issue, to reduce unexpected downtime and repair bills.”
Peter Roger, Head of Driving Advice, IAM Institute of Advanced Motoring, added: “Britain’s economy is driven by van drivers – all those home deliveries are an important part of the issue with vans also taking the wide range of tradespeople we all rely on to work wherever they are needed, carrying their tools, equipment and supplies with them.
“Many vans are on the road all day, and the need to take them off for repairs is a substantial cost in more expensive deliveries and days of lost work for tradesmen. Smooth operation of the economy needs smooth roads. We are ready to help the drivers with training, but the economy needs roads fit for use by all – and that includes the vital part played by van drivers.”