The van sector poses the greatest threat to road safety because a significant number of fleets are flouting the rules.
That was the message from Alastair Peoples, chief executive of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) at the Fleet Van Summit.
He said: “Poor levels of van compliance have been the cause of increasing concern for some years – certainly among road safety organisations and increasingly by Government ministers.
“More than 50% of light goods vehicles (LGVs) fail their MOT, compared to 18% for public service vehicles (PSVs) and and 22% for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs).”
In addition, Peoples revealed that almost nine out of 10 (89%) of LGVs inspected at the roadside were overloaded and 56% were in poor mechanical condition.
He said: “In terms of compliance, I think it could be argued that there is clear blue water between those that run, operate and drive the LGV fleet, and those of the PSV and HGV fleet.”
It is not the first time that the van sector has been warned it is being targeted by the standards agency.
Fleet News reported last summer that the Vehicle & Operator Services Agency (VOSA), which traditionally focused on heavy goods vehicles, was increasing its number of roadside inspections and other enforcement activity to target issues such as vehicle roadworthiness, overloaded vans, and towing infringements.
At the time, a VOSA spokesman said it would try to educate operators in the first instance, but would issue fines of up to £200 per offence to drivers if required.
Peoples told delegates the newly-formed DVSA – a combination of the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and VOSA – is determined to improve standards.
However, he acknowledged there was no appetite from Government for increased regulation; instead DVSA resources were being targeted at increased vehicle examinations and better education.
Peoples said DVSA would be stepping up its campaign to achieve 100% compliance in the van sector, but it also wanted to ensure its efforts were being targeted at those who need it most.
He recognised that not all fleets are the same, with large, corporate fleets being complaint at one end and those that flout the rules – the ‘independent pragmatists’ – at the other.
Peoples said: “They need to be competent and compliant with the rules and, while it might seem a very ambitious aspiration, it’s what we do, it’s what we’re about and we can’t settle for anything less.”
More fleets need to ‘step up to the plate’, says FTA
Van operators are being challenged to raise standards in their day-to-day operations, after Freight Transport Association (FTA) outlined the need to professionalise the industry.
Launching its first Van Excellence Review at the Fleet Van Summit, FTA told delegates that LCV fleets face significant operational challenges, ranging from driver education to the roadworthiness of vehicles.
It is urging operators not already accredited by the Van Excellence scheme to join and help raise standards.
Mark Cartwright, head of vans at FTA, said: “We feel passionately about taking action to professionalise the UK van parc and encourage the commercial success of UK plc. Professionalising the industry will bring benefits to both society and industry.”
Since its launch in 2010, the Van Excellence programme has attracted more than 80 accredited members. It is
an industry-led initiative that aims to improve van compliance, celebrate best practice and represent the interests of the van industry.
However, FTA believes it’s now time for more to ‘step up to the plate’. Cartwright concluded: “It is time for all in the sector to join forces and help professionalise this growing industry.”