The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) is urging employers to carry out appropriate risk assessments on van drivers. Van traffic is on the rise and in a press release entitled ‘Surge in van traffic ticking accident time bomb’ IAM expresses concern that with no additional test or qualification required to drive one, there could be a rise in road traffic collisions.
According to the government’s Road Use Statistics Great Britain 2016, van traffic is at an all-time high – an increase that is thought to be closely related to the 10 per cent year-on-year growth of online and home shopping.
In contrast, the level of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) traffic has fallen and research suggests that the two may be linked. IAM cites factors such as the lower wages of van drivers, the rise in home deliveries and the fact that both the fleet management and drivers of vans are less regulated than HGVs.
IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, Neil Greig, explained: “There is no additional test or qualification required to drive a van, over the basic car licence. This compares directly to drivers of HGVs, who must undertake a test in the vehicle they drive and continued professional development through the driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC).”
As an example of why they are concerned about this, IAM cites figures from the Department for Transport which state that van drivers are almost twice as likely as car drivers to use hand-held mobile phones at the wheel – 2.7 per cent compared to 1.4 per cent of car drivers.
IAM says that checking licences and risk assessing drivers can be done online, meaning it is a quick, easy, low-cost process, which allows the firm in question to opt for further training where necessary.
Greig warned that failure to do so could lead to grave consequences.
“As more and more orders are made online, it is very likely that the increased growth in the number of van drivers will continue.
“But whether your fleet is made up of vans or HGVs, the same corporate manslaughter laws apply and as an employer it is not enough to assume that just holding a driving licence will keep your drivers safe. With additional pressures on them, including often overly optimistic delivery schedules, van drivers face challenges car drivers rarely will.
“With the Christmas delivery surge fast approaching be stringent in your risk assessment process and ensure every individual you have on the road receives the training they need to get their valuable cargo and themselves delivered on time and in one piece.”