Fleets may need more checks on sub-3.5 tonne vans, says FleetCheck

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Fleets should consider introducing more thorough and regular checks on LCVs that weigh under 3.5 tonnes, says FleetCheck.

Vehicles in this category fall outside of the scope of a DVSA operator licence but still need frequent, scheduled checks, the fleet software specialist states.

Peter Golding, managing director at FleetCheck, explained: “There is quite a jump in legal risk management responsibilities when you cross the3.5 tonne mark. It brings the whole formal infrastructure of an O licence into play.

“However, to some extent, this is an artificial line. Vehicles do not suddenly become more prone to safety issues when they weigh in excess of 3.5 tonnes. Our argument, based on what we see in working with many fleets, is that it is good practice to adopt more of a graduated regime.

“Certainly, some of the elements of an O licence, such as pre-use defect inspections and more regular safety checks, should arguably be adopted for sub-3.5 tonne vans, even though they are not strictly legally necessary.”

Golding said that part of the problem lay with the sheer diversity of LCVs now available.

“You don’t have to look back too far to a time when there were only really three or four basic types of van in the sub-3.5 tonne sector,” continued Golding. “Now there are dozens and some are designed for pretty intensive use comparable to a larger vehicle.

“Also, we are seeing vans on many fleets run to much higher mileages than in the past. A few years ago, relatively few LCVs reached much more than 100,000 miles because they simply gave up mechanically and were scrapped.

“Now, with the rise of better made vehicles and higher mileage fleets, such as home delivery operations, there are a comparatively high number of vans around that have covered 200,000 miles or much more.

“All of these trends are converging to a point where we believe there is a strong argument for more checks, more thoroughly made, more often. There is unlikely to be a downwards extension of DVSA regulation but this is no excuse for fleets not to look at instances where exceeding their strict legal responsibilities might be appropriate.”

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