The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has launched a van maintenance campaign to help van 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%) of the 10,800 vans it stops each year have serious mechanical defects. More than nine out of 10 (93%) 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% 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, 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. SMMT has been working closely with the DVSA and other industry stakeholders to ensure this exemption remains in place. To help this process SMMT is publishing 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. 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 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. We’re launching a new campaign to promote maintenance so businesses can take the necessary steps to ensure their vehicles are safe, protecting their drivers and other road users without the need for further fines and regulations.”
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