One of the cornerstones of Van Excellence is roadworthiness. The Van Excellence Code calls for operators to ensure roadworthiness by using pre-use defect checks and establishing a cycle of duty of care inspections – given the extended cycles quoted by manufacturers – it is unlikely these will correspond with the service schedule.
Just 6.5% of respondents didn’t have a pre-use inspection cycle in place; 26% did but admitted they didn’t always fully monitor the process, while more than two-thirds had a robust process in place to ensure pre-use checks were performed and findings recorded and acted upon.
Three-quarters of respondents also claimed to have processes to ensure vans were maintained in accordance with makers’ recommended service intervals and had some form of periodic duty of care check.
Van Excellence accreditation also calls for operators to ensure their vehicles are speed-limited to no more than 70mph (ideally for all their fleet, but at least for new vans).
More than 56% of respondents already require all their new vans to be restricted and a further 20% were seriously considering the benefits to safety and economy of fitment.
While there are some other requirements within the Van Excellence Code around vehicle standards, mainly covering loading and load security, more than half of respondents were already operating at a standard likely to satisfy our accreditation teams with a further 20–25% looking like they could fairly easily step up to the standards if required.
It was a similar story when we looked at the requirements in respect of drivers.
The basic mantra we use is: “Do you know your drivers are qualified? Do you know they are competent? Do you know they are fit to drive?”
Virtually all those who replied checked driver licences – 58% checked direct with DVLA at least annually and checked high-risk drivers more often; 38% did at least a paper check annually.
Similarly, more than a third of operators carried out a formal assessment on new company drivers repeated periodically while a further third had at least some form of appraisal by an experienced staff member before being allowed to drive on company business.
Fitness to drive was also taken seriously by the majority of businesses with 64% requiring drivers to complete a regular written declaration that they are permitted to drive, are properly licenced, are medically fit and are not under the influence of drink or drugs.
A further 32% only carried this process out with new joiners.
Again a pretty satisfying result; we can identify something like two-thirds of operators are already close to or are meeting the standards required.
So what can we conclude?
I guess the overview is that many smaller operators are probably closer to the standards required of a Van Excellence accreditation than they thought.
For those who aren’t quite there, it may be a relatively straightforward process to become so; indeed the pursuit of Van Excellence may serve to be the catalyst for improvement.
All of which fits rather neatly with our Van Excellence strapline – Raising Standards, Recognising Excellence.