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Vans increasingly vital to UK transport sector, DfT figures show

Van traffic on UK roads has nearly doubled over the last 20 years, outstripping growth in all other vehicle types, according to latest Department for Transport figures.

White van on road
Van traffic continued to grow more quickly than any other motor vehicle type in 2017

The newly published road traffic estimates for 2017 show that van traffic grew 2.7% between 2016 and 2017 to reach a record high of 50.5 billion vehicle miles; the fastest growth in percentage terms of any motor vehicle type. Total van mileage in 2017 was 67% higher than 20 years ago.

The figure also shows that vans have become more important over the last decade, accounting for 15% of all motor vehicle traffic in 2017 compared to 9% in 1987.

The DfT said reasons for the rapid growth were likely to be the growth in internet shopping and home deliveries. In 2017, 77% of adults shopped online at least once during 2017, compared to 53% in 2008.

It added that changes to company car taxation rules and vehicle excise duty in the early-to-mid 2000s may have made vans a cheaper alternative and so caused people to switch to vans from cars.

The DfT also pointed to less strict regulation on driver training, driver’s hours restrictions and roadworthiness testing for vans than for lorries, making it easier to find drivers for vans. This may encourage businesses to substitute vans for small lorries, particularly for urban areas.

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Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has nearly 20 years of fleet journalism experience, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.

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