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Van users could face billions in costs unless they get safe

By Kyle Lindsay
Tuesday, April 14, 2015 - 10:35

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Almost two thirds of vans stopped by the DVSA have a mechanical defect

Failure to service vans properly could result in fines and vehicles taken off roads

The SMMT is today launching a maintenance campaign to help van operators take better care of their vehicles, and to keep their drivers and other road users safe.

The campaign comes as a response to recent statistics which show that almost two thirds (63%) of the 10,800 vans stopped by the DVSA at the roadside each year have a serious mechanical defect, while more than nine out of 10 (93%) are overloaded.

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

At this week’s Commercial Vehicle Show in Birmingham, SMMT is urging 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 and SMMT have been working closely with the DVSA and other industry stakeholders to ensure this exemption remains in place.

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.

Industry is keen to ensure that a system of self regulation 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 for vans could stretch to as much as £2.1 billion.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “Britain’s 3.2 million vans are essential for the smooth running of the economy but their recent safety record is a matter of concern. Vans rack up huge distances and endure significant wear and tear on a daily basis so regular servicing is essential.”

With news that 108,456 commercial vehicles were registered in Q1 of 2015, the best quarter on record, Britain’s van sector continues to grow in importance for the distribution of the UK’s goods and services, as businesses expand and fleet operators look for greater flexibility and cost efficiencies.

However, this demand – and the businesses driving it – could be severely hampered if safety doesn’t improve. With this in mind, they have also published an easy to follow van safety guidance package which can be downloaded HERE.

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