April 24, 2017
We’re sure you’ll have recently heard that there is now a record number of vehicles on Britain’s roads. Due in part to increased demand for large vans and pick-ups, this includes all light commercial vehicles (LCVs) – and there are now over 4 million vans on UK roads.
Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Mike Hawes, recently stated that “Commercial vehicles have never been more important to the British economy, transporting vital goods and services using the latest low emission technology.”
When you consider that these LCVs cover around 45 billion miles a year and transport 3,000 tonnes of goods every minute, it’s hard to disagree. So, with their significance to the economy at record levels it’s only right to remind ourselves of the importance of safety.
All businesses, big and small, must protect their workhorse vehicles and their drivers along with the goods in transit. Here are some tips to keep your van or fleet in good working order.
Let’s not beat around the bush – your van is an asset, and an important one. Just think of the consequences of your van breaking down, or even being off the road for as little as a week. Not good, we’re sure you’ll agree.
Ongoing maintenance of your van(s) should be a regular practice. It sounds obvious, but, these things can easily be overlooked when there are no obvious warning signs. Regardless of whether your van seems to be ‘running fine’, you should ALWAYS check your vehicle(s). We would suggest doing so at least on a weekly basis – but you might want to increase this depending on the number of people to have driven the vehicle, the type of journeys and the work each individual van undertakes.
For example, it’s a good idea to walk around and check the van before setting off on a 200-mile journey. Even a new van. But you already knew that! Doing this will enable you to identify the smallest fault at the earliest opportunity – before it becomes a serious problem. Keeping a record of checks will help you monitor your van’s condition as well as enforce a maintenance policy for your drivers.
Technology can play a big part in van/fleet maintenance. Aside from the usual satellite navigation and Bluetooth connectivity – nothing new in 2016 – operators are now able to monitor their vehicles to see where they are and how they’re being driven. This enables them to inform drivers of potential hazards or road works on their route.
Staying with technology, another useful implementation is the use of vehicle tracking. This is for security rather than navigation – going back to your van being off the road, if it’s stolen you can avoid downtime as the van can be traced and (hopefully) returned. Some vans, like Citroen’s Berlingo, offer this as standard.
Anyone who’s driven a large van will understand that they can be tricky to manoeuvre (whether they’ll admit it or not!). This doesn’t just relate to parking such a unit – other driving hazards, such as the blind spot are accentuated in a large van. Available now are ‘blind spot eliminators’, usually in the form of an extended mirror or similar appliance, as well as reversing cameras or parking sensors like those available on the Peugeot Boxer Professional and Citroen Dispatch Enterprise.
Safety doesn’t just relate to the usage of your van(s). They also need to be stored securely when not in use – as we mentioned earlier, they’re one of your most valuable assets. If you don’t already have it, consider investing in gates, secure fencing and/or CCTV surveillance to protect your business assets.
Last but not least, it’s training! Remember, a vehicle is only ever as safe as the person driving it. Anyone who drives a commercial vehicle should have the appropriate training – covering everything that is expected of them as a van driver. This includes new technological implementations, reporting maintenance issues and briefings on driving regulation changes.