Road Safety News
 

Firefighters’ campaign looks to improve safety of van drivers

Friday 16th December 2016

Two Northamptonshire firefighters have launched a new safety campaign which features a ‘steering wheel tag’ giving safety tips to van drivers, in particular to those renting a van.

The campaign is the brainchild of firefighters Tim Burton and Henry Sleight and is supported by the county’s safer roads team, a collaboration between Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service and Northamptonshire Police.

It was officially launched on 13 December with a visit to a local vehicle rental company Longmarsh, based in Wellingborough.

In addition to the steering wheel tag, a leaflet has been produced giving safety information for van drivers employed by businesses across the county. The campaign materials will be rolled out to rental and van companies throughout Northamptonshire over the coming months.

Figures for 2015 show there were 1,323 recorded injury collisions in Northamptonshire, with 158 of these (12%) involving at least one van.

Tim Burton said: “We became aware of the number of road traffic collisions which involved van drivers in some way so we wanted to put something in place to help raise awareness of the important points to remember when driving a van.

“For example, many people who don’t normally drive a van but who rent one do not realise that the dual carriageway speed limit is 60mph - less than for ordinary cars.

“The campaign is being continuously monitored. A pre and post evaluation form is being completed for the next three months by van drivers, and upon completion we will study both the positive and negative feedback to make amendments to improve the initiative.”

The campaign is based on an initiative previously run in New Zealand, designed to address the tourist industry and van drivers from a variety of countries.

For more information contact Tim Burton or Henry Sleight by email.

 

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Much of what van drivers do is to cut up other motorists and much of that is due to the external mirrors. They pull out when a vehicle is close behind and may be about to overtake say on a duel carriageway. They also pull in after overtaking and cut across the path of the car having been overtaken. Giving them too little room and causing them concern.

Both of these factors are due to the exterior mirrors giving the driver an entirely false and wrong perspective with regard to distances as to how far behind other traffic really is.

Van drivers with work to complete like deliveries do appear to drive at road speeds which include the addition of 5/6 mph taking into account the inaccuracy of a modern speedometer and the belief in the police allowance for being stopped or caught by camera. So whilst you are seeing 30mph on your speedometer they are travelling at 35/6 and believe that it is ok to do so. As a result of this they end up tailgating but then in my experience some 30% of drivers tailgate anyway. It's just that vans are larger and in appearance they look to be more aggressive. They loom more than other general traffic.

Further to that van drivers believe that with the elevated seating and visual position that they enjoy they can see further up the road and believe wrongly that they can stop quickly should the need arise. Any vehicle below and in front of them is now only in their peripheral vision and therefore in many circumstances does not appear to exist as the drivers are looking above its roof.

So the driving style is completely different from that of a driver of a normal saloon type car.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (4) | Disagree (0)
+4

Bob: I agree, an audible warning when reversing I think should be mandatory on all vehicles - not just vans. I bought a sounder which fits into any reversing light bulb holder (and still retains the bulb function) for my bog standard saloon car and cost £4 from Amazon. Essential in car parks when reversing near peds who may not be paying attention and toddlers who may be below the sight-line through the rear window.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (3) | Disagree (1)
+2

The essential messages shown above for the van driver i.e. awareness of and compliance with speed limits; seat belts; distraction and looking properly would be the same messages for any driver surely? Having said that, there's something about a van that seems to lead the drivers thereof to assume they are excused from normal safe driving rules and principles and being in a 'every second counts' tearing hurry is part and parcel (sorry for the pun) of being a van driver.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (3) | Disagree (1)
+2

What would make van driving safer is also a rear end device like a bell or buzzer or other alarm that sounds when one is reversing. Together with a reversing alarm for when someone or something is in close proximity to a reversing vehicle and likely to be caused injury or damage to. Perhaps a camera for reversing wouldn't be a bad thing. Many drivers are unaware of the length of their vehicle. This is made worse by side mirrors that show, say a wall or loading bay at the rear to be twice as far away as it actually is. Some electronics of this nature are simple and cheap for the manufacturer to install and should be incorporated in all vans before sale.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (2) | Disagree (1)
+1

According to the DfT, vans accounted for about 15% of road traffic in 2015, and van traffic is growing faster than other vehicle types. So it would seem that with them only being involved in 12% of collisions, van drivers are underrepresented in the collision data, so safer than the average driver.
(Ref: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/576095/tsgb-2016-report-summaries.pdf)
Charles, England

Agree (5) | Disagree (10)
-5

What a shame they didn't include give more space.

So 12% of incidents involve a van driver. Maybe they could have a clear sticker on the exterior mirrors, there being no internal one and that sticker should say: 'Any vehicle seen in this mirror is half the actual distance away. It's much closer than you see'. Then the van diver will know not to pull in too soon and cut up the driver just overtaken.

Last week on a dual carriageway I was overtaken by a light van and it pulled in (for no reason) and almost took the front end of my car off. The rear of his van was no more than 2 ft away from the front of may car when he pulled in. We were both doing near the road limit of 60 mph. External mirrors that do not give the correct indication of distances are a major cause of incidents, concern, frustration anger and road rage.

It's about time they were corrected or a warning printed on as they do on some vehicles in some countries.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (7) | Disagree (0)
+7

Well done. You guys should be so proud of yourselves ;-)
Kelly Rushden

Agree (12) | Disagree (1)
+11