A new toolkit has been launched to help keep van drivers safe and legal and to ensure employers comply with not just road traffic legislation but also their health and safety responsibilities.
The free-to-access resource has been produced by the Highways England Commercial Vehicle Incident Prevention Team as part of the Driving for Better Business (DfBB) programme.
The number of vans on UK roads has risen by 50% in the last decade. Huge growth in the service sector and increasing demand for online shopping and grocery deliveries – accelerated by the Covid pandemic – means there are now more than 4.5 million.
The new Van Driver Toolkit features more than 30 modules to assist van drivers and their manager. Vehicle roadworthiness, fatigue, distraction and overloading among the many important subjects that are tackled.
Highways England hopes the toolkit will help employers implement best practices to improve driver wellbeing, reduce costs, improve operating conditions, and ensure safe and legal vehicles on the roads.
Mark Cartwright, head of the Commercial Vehicle Incident Prevention Team at Highways England, said: “One of the things that we see in the van space is the ‘organically grown’ van fleet – the local business, the local entrepreneur that set themselves up as a gardener, or dog walker, or window washer, or plumber, or window cleaner – whatever it happens to be – and got good at it.
“Five years on, and there are 10, 20, 50 vans parked outside – but they haven’t gone through the same learning processes as a truck operator would do, for example, and probably don’t realise the significant financial and reputational risk they are exposed to.
“Most of the time it is genuinely a lack of awareness – we see vans being operated by businesses that are very good at managing their health and safety in the primary areas of their business, away from the vehicle, but it doesn’t necessarily translate to the vehicle operation.
“This is why we have created the Van Driver Toolkit – to help everyone employing van drivers and operating vans to improve their management of road risk.”