National Highways is calling on companies to use their procurement power to encourage van fleets to use its Van Driver Toolkit - a simple guide to light commercial vehicle (LCV) legal compliance, safety, and best practice.
The toolkit is free to download and designed to be practical, user-friendly, and easy for companies to share with drivers.
Mark Cartwright, head of commercial vehicle incident prevention at National Highways (formerly Highways England), said that most companies underestimate the potential they have to improve road safety when putting contracts out to tender.
“Most vans are being used for work, and the companies using them have clients. If those clients mandated that all van drivers carrying out tasks on their behalf were to read and understand this toolkit, it could have a huge effect on road safety," he said.
“The data from enforcement activities on the strategic road network suggests that many van driver offences are caused by ignorance.
“Often transport is not a core activity for companies with LCV fleets, which can mean that employers are also ignorant of the regulations governing van use.”
Cartwright said the toolkit is designed to “dispel myths, fill knowledge gaps and make van drivers and the road network safer”.
It comprises a series of concise, illustrated, downloadable PDFs, which can be emailed or added to a drivers’ app for reference.
The Van Driver Toolkit been added to the FleetCheck Vehicle Inspection App in its latest update to the product.
Topics include: The rules governing vans and safe driving, licence qualifications, fitness to drive (drink, drugs, fatigue, medical conditions), vehicle safety, driving safely, smart driving and seasonal driving.
“We want to arm van drivers with the knowledge they need to stay safe and protect themselves from unwittingly breaking the law,” Cartwright said.
“So far 1,200 organisations have registered to download the toolkit, covering 1.2m vehicles between them. That’s almost one-quarter of the vans on the road. Now we must reach the other 75%.
“As the number of vans continues to grow apace, it’s imperative that we make their drivers and their use safer. It is not only drivers who have statutory responsibilities on the road, but also employees who have health and safety obligations to their staff and to the public.”
Mick Kiely, fleet manager at TES 2000, introduced the National Highways resources for his 160 non-professional van drivers when he joined the company 18 months ago.
“We use the Van Driver Toolkit in small sections as toolbox talks. Our drivers were often not aware of even basic vehicle management. This has helped us cut our accident rate by 52% and our insurance premiums by 35%,” he said.
“Well designed resources like this make every fleet manager’s job easier. I recommend the VDT to other fleets as often as possible.”