The warning comes from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) as Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) figures show that almost nine in 10 (88.5%) of the 2,381 vans that it weighed last year were found to be overloaded; up compared to the previous year in which 84% of the 3,337 checked were illegal.
Launched to coincide with the opening of the 2016 CV Show, the SMMT research shows that manufacturers are offering increasing levels of safety on the latest vehicles: around a quarter of vans currently on sale in the UK are available with advanced collision warning systems2 while three new models launched at the CV Show will feature autonomous emergency braking for the first time.
However an overloaded or poorly loaded van can still pose a risk to its driver and other road users, adding vital metres to braking distances and affecting handling.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “Vans have never played a more important role in the British economy, with a record four million vans now on our roads, so it is a concern that this in-use safety record remains so poor. Manufacturers are investing significant amounts in new safety technology, but this can only do part of the job. We continue to urge operators and owners to comply with the law to keep themselves and others safe, avoid the risk of fines and keep the threat of further legislation at bay.”
Although anyone operating a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) is subject to strict rules under the Operator Licensing regime, this does not apply to vehicles under 3.5 tonnes, leaving the vast majority of vans exposed. No move has yet been made to extend Operator Licensing to vans, and to ensure this and a potential £2.6bn in extra costs for operators continues to be avoided, industry is keen to see this safety record improve.
Gordon Macdonald, DVSA compliance service manager, said: “Overloading continues to be a real issue on our roads, and drivers and businesses need to carefully consider their legal responsibility towards vehicle weight compliance, so we fully support the SMMT’s latest important van safety message.”
Operators and owners looking to ensure their van complies with weight regulations can refer to DVSA’s handy Van Smart video guide available here: http://bit.ly/1YF4A33
For simple, step-by-step guidance on how best to maintain their vans, operators can visit www.smmt.co.uk/vansafety.