Many van drivers see their vehicle as just another tool to get the job done, and because light commercial vehicles (or LCVs) aren’t subject to the increased levels of legislation that comes into play with vehicles over 3.5 tonnes, it can be easy to take your eye off the ball.
However, with over 3 million vans used for business across the UK, and more than 10,000 of these being stopped by the Vehicle Operator Services Agency (VOSA) every year as part of their roadside checks, it’s important to look after your van. Especially given that over 90% of these 10,000 stops were because of vans being overloaded, with 63% found to have serious mechanical defects - something that can easily be avoided. Operating vehicles on the road that are either overweight or mechanically unsafe (or both) is a recipe for disaster – at the least it will result in significant losses in revenue for your business, or worse cause reputational damage and significant fines for the driver and the manager responsible for your vans.
To help you we’re highlighting this issue, and providing some simple guidance to get you on your way towards a cost effective, safe and compliant fleet.
For the Van Operator
If you are in charge of managing vans for your business, you are the fleet operator. This checklist will help you make sure your fleet is compliant and cost effective.
A simple and straightforward vehicle “walk-around” check each day makes sure that any defects are picked up (and can be repaired). It also helps you avoid downtime from both breakdowns and enforcement agency investigations. A well-maintained and tidy vehicle does not attract the enforcement agencies, whereas one which appears unsound probably will!
As an operator, you must take note of any defects brought to your attention. By making sure any defects are fixed are fixed as soon as possible, you are protecting your drivers, the vehicles you operate, and your company’s reputation. If you are asked by an enforcement agency to prove that vehicle defects are being repaired, it is essential that you can do so.
Van servicing and maintenance
It’s really to have your vehicle regularly maintained. We can offer you several ways to make sure your vehicles are maintained in the most cost-efficient and timely way through franchised sites, a network of independent repairers or via mobile servicing.
Health and safety
A van is a tool to carry goods or people to and from places so it must be used in a safe and considered way. To minimise the impact of your vehicles on other road users and the environment, have you considered a programme of driver education to improve their driving style and fuel consumption? It will help them to avoid accidents while you can expect to reduce your maintenance costs and fuel spend!
A safe-looking vehicle minimises the chances of being included in an enforcement roadside stop. Make sure your vehicles are well-maintained, and loaded appropriately. Also address any wear and tear which is good for your costs because of reduced fuel spend and fewer breakdowns.
As an operator of vehicles under the 3.5t Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) threshold, there are fewer statutory requirements to meet. However, the best operators make certain their vans are maintained regularly, their tyres are road-legal (and changed at appropriate intervals), the vehicle is loaded correctly (and not overloaded), and their drivers drive in a safe, courteous and professional way.
Did you know as an operator, if you lease vehicles exceeding 3.5 tonnes, you need to hold the correct operator licence.
For the van driver
If you are a van driver, you should complete these checks so you stay compliant (both individually and for your employer).
Make sure it’s valid and includes a photo card
Make sure that your category entitlement is correct and that you are legally permitted to drive the van.
Drivers’ hours - are you aware of which drivers’ hours regulations you need to adhere to, and the restrictions on driving time.
If relevant, have you been trained and are certified to use any ancillary equipment fitted to the vehicle? Things like cranes and winches.
Has the vehicle been loaded safely, with no overloads on individual axles, or in total weight? Has the load also been restrained correctly to prevent damage or incident if you need to take evasive driving action on the road?
Not under the influence of drugs (prescription or otherwise) or alcohol or inhaled substances?
Familiarise yourself with the van – do you understand the controls, how to adjust your driving position
Are you medically-fit to drive and does your eyesight meet the requirements? Remember it is not only the vehicle that needs to be defect-checked; you as the driver have a duty to comply with the requirements around fitness to drive and suitability to drive.
It is also very important that you do a daily check of the van to make sure it is safe and roadworthy. This will lower the risk of being stopped by the authorities, and will also mean you can resolve defects straight away, before they get any worse.
You should use the following checklist every day before you drive your van:
Want to know more? Get in touch!
We hope this guide has given you a good starting point – but our van experts are more than happy to answer any other questions you might have when choosing the right vehicle for you and your business needs. We’re experts in vehicle leasing with over 40 years’ experience and more than 160,000 vehicles under contract, so we’re confident we’ve seen everything and covered every question. For more information on van leasing and how we can help you, click here to take a look at our Van Leasing section.
To talk through the offers and options available in leasing a vehicle, get in touch today.