Make a plan for vans

Commercial fleet managers have been urged to ensure their van drivers are appropriately trained ahead of the Christmas rush, after research discovered that twice as many van drivers as car drivers admit to using handheld phones.

Figures from the Department for Transport also found that most of these van drivers were using their phones in their hands rather than holding it to their ear.

And this trend comes at a time when van traffic is growing rapidly, reaching the highest ever level at 45 billion vehicle miles last year, according to Road Use Statistics Great Britain 2016. This increase in van traffic is thought to be closely related to the 10% year-on-year growth of online and home shopping. This increase has shown a natural increase in employment within the road freight industry, up six per cent in 2014.

But while van traffic is increasing, HGV miles are on the decrease.

IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, Neil Greig, said, ‘There is no additional test or qualification required to drive a van, over the basic car licence. This compares directly to drivers of HGVs, who must undertake a test in the vehicle they drive and continued professional development through the driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC). As more and more orders are made online, it is very likely that the increased growth in the number of van drivers will continue.

‘But whether your fleet is made up of vans or HGVs, the same corporate manslaughter laws apply and as an employer it is not enough to assume that just holding a driving licence will keep your drivers safe. With additional pressures on them, including often overly optimistic delivery schedules, van drivers face challenges car drivers rarely will.

‘With the Christmas delivery surge fast approaching be stringent in your risk assessment process and ensure every individual you have on the road receives the training they need to get their valuable cargo and themselves delivered on time and in one piece.’