New research commissioned by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has shown that nearly 50% of van drivers drive overloaded vans.
The research, which surveyed both fleet managers and van drivers, found that nearly half of UK businesses don’t monitor the weights of their company vehicles, and 53% of drivers don’t know their vehicle’s maximum load carrying capacity.
Businesses can face thousands in unforeseen costs due to the increased pressure from overloading on a vehicle; resulting in higher maintenance costs in the long-run. Overloading can impact on the van’s driving performance and lead to increased stopping distances, difficulty in steering and potentially tipping over. It will also cause excessive wear and tear to the van affecting tyres, suspension and brakes.
Another impact to businesses is the issue of insurance if their vehicle is involved in an accident. Research showed that three quarters of fleet managers do not realise their insurance could potentially be invalidated if a company vehicle is involved in a crash and found to be over the legal weight limit.
In fact companies can face steep penalties for failing to comply with the legal weight limits of their vehicles including fines, immobilisation of the vehicle and in severe cases a court summons.
Last year, the DVSA stopped over 10,800 vans on UK roads and found 89% to be driving overloaded.
Gordon MacDonald, vehicle product manager at the DVSA, said: “The research highlights that a large proportion of van drivers could be breaking the law and posing serious safety risks to themselves and other road users. Overloading is a real issue on our roads and it is the responsibility of both the driver and the business to load vehicles correctly and keep their van within its legal weight limit.”
The research showed that 73% of van drivers are unsure of the effects of overloading their van on the vehicle’s driving performance, whilst nearly a quarter are unaware of the legal penalties they face if stopped on the road.
Trevor Hodgson-Philips, head of service and parts at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles added: “It’s important that businesses choose the right van for the job to avoid unnecessary overloading. Typical cargo volume and knowledge of gross vehicle weight should be taken into consideration before setting off to ensure the safety of the driver and other road users.
“An overloaded vehicle can cause huge costs to businesses. Consistently driving with too much weight in a vehicle will put increased pressure on tyres and suspension causing them to wear out more quickly. By investing in the right size van in the first place, businesses can save thousands by avoiding unnecessary fines and repair costs.”