Kwik Fit is reminding fleet operators of the importance of maintaining light commercial vehicles (LCVs) in tip-top condition in the light of a crackdown by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) on vans that defy the law.
VOSA, part of the Department for Transport, is responsible for improving the roadworthiness standards of vehicles, ensuring the compliance of operators and drivers, and says it is “determined to improve van operational standards”.
In addition to a range of initiatives to be launched this year, VOSA says it will “significantly ramp up the number of roadside inspections and other enforcement activity”.
A VOSA spokesman said: “LGVs (light goods vehicles) are involved in twice as many accidents as HGVs and have an MoT failure rate of 50%.”
Kwik Fit has invested significantly in its LCV proposition in the last two years with an expansion of its range of mechanical services - including MoTs - to fleets as the number of vans on the UK’s roads continues to rapidly rise.
More than 40% (1.6 million) of approximately four million business vehicles on the UK’s roads are estimated to be light commercial vehicles and the size of the van fleet is expected to increase further, particularly as demand for home deliveries continues to rise as a consequence of the internet shopping boom.
Investments made by the chain include ensuring that the vast majority of its nationwide 670-strong centre network can accommodate LCVs, including the growing number of hi-roof, long wheel base models as well as car derived vehicles, while making details of those centres and their specific facilities available to customers.
Additionally, many centres are able to carry out MoTs on Class 7 vans - those over 3000 kg up to and including 3500 kg DGW (design gross weight) - and they have been ‘tooled up’ to service the largest vans with the purchase of six-tonne trolley jacks, five-tonne axle stands, wheel clocks, extensions bars and tyre cages.
The VOSA programme to address LGV operators’ low compliance and raise the standards of the LGV industry includes ‘tactical’ checks at ‘appropriate locations’. That is being combined with cooperation with trade bodies and associations to convey the message that VOSA is “determined to raise the standards of the LGV fleet through joint working, education, assistance, and if required, enforcement action”.
Although vehicle driver and operator education is the key thrust of VOSA’s action, a range of enforcement actions - including vehicle prohibition notices, fines and even jail - could also be used.
Peter Lambert, fleet director, Kwik Fit, said: “Vehicle compliance is a critical aspect of every fleet operator’s job and VOSA has made it clear that it will not tolerate poor LCV standards.
“We can service and maintain all LCVs in accordance with standards laid down by vehicle manufacturers and employ technicians that have the technical ability to deal with any issues on site.”
Additionally, all MoT testing stations are VOSA-approved, the company operates a national pricing policy, and Kwik Fit’s long hours culture, including Saturday and Sunday opening, helps to ensure minimum vehicle downtime for busy fleets.
Lambert added: “We are recording a significant increase in the volume of mechanical work being carried out on vans at our centres. We anticipate that will continue to increase due to our long-established reputation for high quality service delivery built on the repair and replacement of tyres, batteries and exhausts and now extending to vehicle-related mechanical work.”