Spiralling UK van traffic revealed
The presence of vans on our roads reached an all-time peak last year, the DfT’s Road Use Statistics Great Britain 2016 report has identified, the 45 billion miles covered by van drivers in 2015 equating to a 38% rise from 2000 and accounting for 14% of all road use. Van traffic has risen by 12% over the last two years compared to car traffic which has increased by just 4%. Interestingly, HGV traffic has seen the smallest growth at 3%, having consistently reduced since the so-called ‘economic downturn’ several years ago.
The DfT’s latest figures report that 72% of vans are owned by registered businesses, just over half of them are used to carry equipment, and 21% are used as goods delivery and collection vehicles. IAM RoadSmart and other organisations put the growth in van traffic down to the proliferation in online and home shopping, officially increasing by around 10% year-on-year, couriers a regular daily sight on the UK’s residential streets and office parks.
As with anything in life, the nation’s addiction to home delivery has pros and cons, employment in the road freight industry up 6% in 2014, countered by the lower wages some firms feel they can offer to van drivers compared to HGVs.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart’s policy and research director, comments: “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 more and more orders are made online, it is very likely that the increased growth in the number of van drivers will continue.”
Couriers who work for themselves on a contractor basis for larger organisations can find reassurance in knowing that corporate manslaughter and duty of care regulations apply to them, too, not just to employed fleet drivers. This could result in more checks being carried out and qualifications asked for by the courier firms that contractors deliver and collect parcels for, but wages for van drivers will hopefully therefore not see any falls and training may well start being provided.
Illegal use of mobile phones whilst driving has also been highlighted by the latest DfT figures, almost twice as many van drivers likely to succumb to the temptation than car drivers. Out of the culprits, far more were observed holding a phone in their hands rather than to their ears, perhaps indicating an attempt to make it less obvious to onlookers including the police, or because they were checking social media or other apps.
With Christmas less than a few months’ away, it’s hoped that all van drivers out there, whether contractors or otherwise, will drive as efficiently and responsibly as possible, keeping them and other road users safe, their cargo intact and customers happy.
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