Van safety needs to be addressed, warns SMMTThe SMMT has revealed shock figures that expose worryingly poor levels of safety among Britain’s van users.

One in two vans will fail the annual MOT test due to a safety defect and, more worryingly, two in three vans stopped by the roadside by the DVSA each hear have a serious mechanical defect.

A staggering 9 in 10 vans were found to be overloaded.

The spiralling MOT safety defect record contrasts starkly with HGVs, says the SMMT – operators there have to follow strict licensing rules, which means just over one in five HGVs will fail the MOT first time round.

As vans weigh less than 3.5 tonnes, they’re exempt from this expensive Operator Licensing regime.

The SMMT is thus issuing a rallying call to van operators at the Commercial Vehicle Show in Birmingham this week: sort out your safety record or face billions in extra costs.

Safety record ‘a matter of concern’

“Britain’s 3.2 million vans are essential for the smooth running of the economy but their recent safety record is a matter of concern,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.

“Vans rack up huge distances and endure significant wear and tear on a daily basis so regular servicing is essential.” Van demand is also growing; over 34,000 were registered in March 2015 alone, a rise of nearly 24 per cent, as businesses move to vans for the greater efficiencies they offer.

But if operators don’t sort out their safety record, the DVSA and other stakeholders may take action and enforce expensive statutory licensing regulation – something the industry can avoid with effective self regulation.

“We’re launching a new campaign to promote maintenance so businesses can take the necessary steps to ensure their vehicles are safe, protecting their drivers and other road users without the need for further fines and regulations.”

The SMMT adds that “although there has been no move so far to make Operator Licensing rules apply to vans, the regulations and safety records around light goods vehicles are facing increased scrutiny”.

Over to you, van operators…