Van drivers urged to take care on the road.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has launched a campaign to encourage van operators to keep their drivers and other road users safe by taking better care of their vehicles.

SMMT says almost two thirds (63%) of the vans stopped by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (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, while, 50% of vans also fail their annual MOT test first time, compared with just 22% of HGVs, whose operators are bound by strict licensing rules. 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 is working with the DVSA and other stakeholders to ensure this exemption remains in place. To help this process SMMT has published easy to follow van safety guidance.

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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