Shaking up van compliance

It was said that stricker enforcement of van standards is on its way. The Freight Transport Association reports

The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) warned of a ‘reality check ahead’ and told delegates at the third 2013 Van Excellence conference that those van operators not complying with regulations would be targeted by the authorities.
The message was clear, and was made as part of the keynote speech by VOSA’s Road Worthiness Policy Manager, David Wood, who stated that: ”VOSA was determined to improve van operational standards and makes no secret of its intention to significantly ramp up the number of roadside inspections and other enforcement activity.” 

Quoting the 50 per cent first time annual test failure rate for vans, the anecdotal evidence for excessive driving time, the fact that nearly 70 per cent of light goods vehicles VOSA inspects at the roadside are subject to a road worthiness prohibition and 90 per cent of LGVs weighed were overloaded, Wood acknowledged that, in the past, vans had attracted a lower burden of enforcement from VOSA than they perhaps should have had.

However, highlighting the impact of the recession on operator practices, Wood left delegates in no doubt that VOSA would be targeting non-compliant van operators and drivers in the future.

Vans very often have a mixed public image.  On the one hand they are seen as an essential working tool for the tradesman, whilst on the other hand the image of the vehicle is often haunted by the ‘white van man’ stigma. 

With almost 3.5 million UK van busy delivering goods, transporting parts, and serving as a mobile toolkit for many, there is no doubt that they play a vital role in the logistics industry’; recognised by freight operators as an essential part of their day-to-day business, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) Van Excellence scheme was launched in 2011 – ‘by the industry – for the industry’.

The Van Excellence scheme was designed to help create and sustain improved operating performance, and to enhance public image and customer confident; the FTA backed scheme received a great deal of praise from VOSA and was described as ‘an extremely good example of how the industry can take responsibility for itself.” Accredited van operators of the scheme were also recognised by VOSA for demonstrating good practice in the industry.
David Wood said: “There needs to be a change in the attitude of the LGV sector to improve vehicle maintenance and driving standards, I believe that schemes like Van Excellence will contribute to improving road safety and gaining professional recognition, it is also very beneficial in helping to change the public perception of the ‘white van man’.

The scheme ensures that better standards are met so that vehicles operate in a safe and viable way and therefore should be encouraged.” 
Wood continued: “VOSA needs support from the industry to ensure that our resources are best directed at the right target audience. I see Van Excellence as a very positive initiative and congratulate the FTA on the scheme.”
As an industry-led initiative Van Excellence aims to enhance standards of van operator compliance, celebrate operators who demonstrate excellence and represent the interests of the van industry. The Conferences are sponsored by Industry Partners ATS Euromaster, BT Fleet, Hertz Van Rental, Route Monkey and TomTom Business Solutions who were on hand to speak with delegates at Sheffield about their role as industry partners with Van Excellence.

Mark Cartwright, FTA’s Head of Vans, said: “Van Excellence demonstrates that operators are entirely capable of self regulation. FTA applauds the efforts of VOSA to increase general operational standards and welcomes the words which David Wood  from VOSA has delivered as they can only help enforce the message to those van operators who need to improve their standards do so.”

The Dunblane event was the last Van Excellence conference in the 2013 series which had previously being held at Slough and Sheffield. Delegates were also provided with a series of presentations throughout the day which were designed to help them improve legislative compliance and reduce costs.
Other key sessions included within the seminar were managing road risk; reducing fuel spend; vehicle specifications; future van technology; current and upcoming legislative issues; and an examination of the Van Excellence scheme through the eyes of an accredited operator.
The events had been sponsored by Van Excellence Industry Partners ATS Euromaster, BT Fleet, Hertz, Route Monkey and TomTom Business Solutions.
Since it launched in 2011 FTA’s Van Excellence has established itself as the operating standard for light fleet operators across all sectors. The scheme has been going from strength to strength; it has attracted the support of a variety of large commercial operators and
currently boasts over 170 engaged operators running in excess of 180,000 vans.
Van Excellence’s national accreditation scheme for van operators was introduced ‘by the industry for the industry’, in order to promote high standards of van operation and driving by accrediting operators against a code of good practice, and support van operators on a day‑to‑day basis. The scheme is open to van operators of commercial vehicles of 3.5 te GVW or less.


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