Van industry launches safety crackdown


Almost two thirds of the 10,000 vans stopped by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) at the roadside each year have a serious mechanical defect, according to a leading trade body.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has launched a safety guidance scheme for light goods vehicle operators after a list of worrying statistics revealed ‘poor safety levels’.

SMMT claims that 9 out of 10 (93%) vans are overloaded and 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’.

SMMT also revealed that 50% of vans also fail their annual MOT test first time, this is compared with just 22% of heavy goods vehicles, whose operators are bound by licensing rules.

Attempting to head off what it sees as costly licensing rules, SMMT’s campaign is designed to improve safety standards while ensuring that self-regulation is maintained in the light goods vehicle industry.

‘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 £2.1bn,’ SMMT states.

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.’

Boosted by Internet shopping, Britain’s van sector continues to grow with 34,007 new vans registered in March 2015 – up 23.8% on the same period last year.

According to the SMMT the sector is on track to hit a 12th consecutive month of double-digit percentage growth in April.

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