Van users could face billions in costs: SMMT warning 14 April 2015

Today (14 April 2015) at the CV Show, the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) is urging van owners and operators to make a step change in maintenance, to ensure they meet self regulatory requirements and avoid the risk of fines and further legislation being imposed upon them.

The society wants van users to make major improvements to the parlous state of so many LCVs, and is using the CV Show (14—16 April, NEC, Birmingham) to launch a major van maintenance improvement campaign.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes makes the point that almost two thirds (63%) of the 10,800 vans stopped by the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) at the roadside each year have a serious mechanical defect, while more than nine out of 10 (93%) are overloaded.

Around half of all vehicles stopped also posed a road safety risk and were taken off the road at a real-terms cost to owners of £4,000 per day.

Meanwhile, 50% of vans also fail their MOT test first time, compared with 22% of HGVs, whose operators are bound by the 'O' licensing rules.

"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," states Hawes.

"Vans rack up huge distances and endure significant wear and tear on a daily basis, so regular servicing is essential," he continues.

"We're launching a new campaign to promote maintenance so businesses can take the necessary steps to ensure their vehicles are safe."

He acknowledges that currently, goods vehicles weighing less than 3.5 tonnes are exempt from the 'O' licensing regime that applies to heavier trucks.

He also says that SMMT has been working closely with the DVSA and other industry stakeholders to ensure this exemption remains in place.

Hence, says Hawes, the new van safety guidance at

Although there has been no move so far to make 'O' licensing rules apply to vans, the regulations and safety records around light goods vehicles are facing increased scrutiny, he warns.

Industry is keen to ensure that self regulation is maintained so that costly licensing – estimated at £2.1 billion for van users, if current HGV rates are used – is to be avoided.

Brian Tinham

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