Van drivers are being urged to check the safety of their vehicles as the Department for Transport’s (DfT) figures continue to show that the risk of work-related driving accidents remains high.

The latest report, produced in September 2016, revealed that 541 people were killed in work-related driving accidents in 2015. An additional 4,822 people were seriously injured and over 40,000 people were slightly injured. Between 2006 and 2015, almost 30% of road deaths and 22% of serious casualties occurred in accidents involving at least one at-work driver or rider. Figures for 2016 will be published later this year.

Nearly nine in ten (88.5%) vans weighed by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) were found to be overloaded. Gordon Macdonald, DVSA Compliance Service Manager, said: “Overloading continues to be a real issue on our roads, and drivers and businesses need to carefully consider their legal responsibility towards vehicle weight compliance.”

Watch this video to ensure your van complies with weight regulations

Research commissioned by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, which surveyed both fleet managers and van drivers in 2015, found that nearly half of UK businesses do not monitor the weights of their company vehicles and that over 53% of drivers do not know their vehicle’s maximum load carrying capacity.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has repeatedly warned that dangerous overloading could undermine advances in van safety technology. Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, commented: “We continue to urge operators and owners to comply with the law to keep themselves and others safe and to avoid the risk of fines.”

Enforcement agencies are increasingly wise to spotting an overloaded van and the penalties are severe. Drivers and their employers can be fined up to £5,000 per offence and a prosecution negatively affects an organisation’s Operator Licence if they operate trucks.

Read the penalties for overloading and the RAC’s explanation of vehicle weights

Venson is encouraging all van drivers to walk around their vehicle and check its roadworthiness before starting a day's work.
Drivers and their employers can be fined up to £5,000 per offence.

Venson Automotive Solutions is urging van drivers and business owners to consider the safety of their vehicles and to ensure that they are fit-for-purpose. Gil Kelly, operations director at Venson said: “The DfT figures demonstrate the importance for companies to check the safety of any vehicle used for business.”

In particular, Kelly stresses the importance of not overloading a van: “Checking the weight of a van should be an essential part of standard daily checks. It’s vital that drivers know their vehicle’s maximum overall weight and understand the importance of distributing weight correctly in the vehicle.”

Venson is encouraging all van drivers to walk around their vehicle and check its roadworthiness before starting a day’s work.

“Lights, tyres, bodywork, windscreen, mirrors, trailers and the load should all be checked and any defects reported to the appropriate person in their organisation,” said Kelly. “It only takes a few minutes, but could reduce the risk of an accident and adverse publicity for the business.”

Tips from Venson and the Freight Transport Association (FTA) for ensuring vehicles are safe and legally road compliant:

  • Don’t overload your van – its easy for enforcement agencies to spot and penalties are severe if caught
  • Make sure your load is secure – an unsecure load is dangerous and has the potential to damage the van and its contents, as well as to cause accidents
  • Know your van’s maximum weight. Use a weighbridge and remember ignorance is no defence in law
  • Your van’s maximum weight includes passengers and fuel. Getting it wrong could see your firm fined up to £5,000 and jeopardise your Operator Licence
  • Carry out health and safety assessments for loading and unloading both internal and external items
  • Consider alternative storage solutions
  • Is everything that is being carried in the vehicle required?
  • Make sure drivers conduct a walk-around check before setting off and report defects to the correct person
  • Carry out regular safety inspections and have a system to ensure that non-roadworthy vehicles are taken out of service
  • Give drivers clear written instructions of their responsibilities
Overloaded vans increase fuel consumption and fuel costs
In 2015, nearly nine in ten (88.5%) of 2,381 vans weighed by the DVSA were found to be overloaded.