According to the latest Road Casualties Report from the Department for Transport (DfT), 541 people were killed in collisions involving a work-related driving accident in 2016. In addition, 4,822 were seriously injured and more than 40,000 were slightly injured. Venson Automotive Solutions highlights the need for SMEs to focus on the safety of their vehicles and provides a checklist to help ensure the vehicles they operate are fit for purpose.
Vans are very easy to overload and the penalties are severe if caught. Drivers and their employers can be fined up to £5000 per offence and prosecution would adversely affect an organisation’s operator licence if trucks are also operated. Spotting an overloaded van isn’t difficult and the enforcement agencies are increasingly wise to this. It’s vital to know the maximum a van can weigh overall and the maximum weight allowed for each axle.
“The DfT figures demonstrate the importance for companies to check the safety of any vehicle used for business,” explains Gil Kelly at Venson Automotive Solutions. “Too many businesses cut corners when it comes to equipping their vehicles, or don’t recognise the impact an inferior product could have on vehicle or driver safety. The worst offenders include overloaded vehicles, poorly secured equipment and a lack of pedestrian warning systems.”
Checking the weight of a van should be an essential part of standard checks, so it’s vital that drivers know the maximum their van can weigh overall and understand the importance of distributing weight correctly in their vehicle. Drivers should also be encouraged to walk-around the vehicle to check it’s roadworthy before starting the days work. Lights, tyres, bodywork, windscreen, mirrors, trailers and the load should all be checked and any defects reported to the appropriate person in their organisation. It only takes a few minutes, but could reduce the risk of an accident and adverse publicity for the business.
Getting the vehicle load correct at the outset can save businesses time and money but more importantly improve staff safety. It also means organisations know their vehicles are safe and legally road compliant, and are meeting health and safety regulations,” concludes Gil Kelly.
Venson and FTA vehicle safety tips
- Don’t overload your van – it’s easy for enforcement agencies to spot and penalties are severe if caught.
- Make sure your load is secure – an unsecure load is dangerous with the potential to damage the van and its contents, as well as cause accidents.
- Know your van’s maximum weight. Use a weighbridge and remember ignorance is no defence in law.
- Your van’s maximum weight includes passengers and fuel. Getting it wrong could see a firm fined up to £5000 and jeopardises their operator licence.
- Carry out health and safety assessments for loading and unloading the vehicle, both internal items and external items such as ladders, materials etc.
- Consider alternative storage solutions. What was once carried on the roof/side of vehicle is now not necessarily required.
- Is everything that is being carried in the vehicle required? Consider alternative solutions such as on-site delivery from suppliers.
- Make sure drivers conduct a walk-around check before setting off and report defects to the correct person.
- Carry out regular safety inspections and have a system to ensure that non-roadworthy vehicles are taken out of service.
- Give drivers clear written instructions of their responsibilities.