Your Guide to the SMMT Van Maintenance Campaign

Van MaintenanceUpholding the highest standards of health and safety isn’t just a moral obligation but a legal one. Road safety is drilled into us from the moment we get behind the wheel, and for good reason, but the lessons don’t end when you pass your test and receive your licence. For commercial vehicle operators and their fleet managers, van maintenance is a vital part of ensuring the latest health and safety requirements are met.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is known for its stringent roadside checks but with the latest statistics released by the government department, failing to take care of your commercial vehicle could land you in more hot water than you think.

The UK’s BIG maintenance problem

Of the 10,800 vans and light goods vehicles (LGVs) stopped by the DVSA at the roadside, 63% had a serious mechanical defect whilst 88.5% were overloaded. Whilst an annual service should prevent the majority of maintenance problems, many operators and fleet managers are simply overlooking daily checks and letting good maintenance fall by the wayside. Without a sharper approach to van safety drivers and managers are leaving themselves exposed to hefty fees with many already falling victim to such costs. Almost 50% of the vehicles that posed a road safety risk had to be taken off the road, a ruling that could cost owners up to £4,000 per day!

In regards to breaking the terms of the latest licensing rules and regulations, commercial vehicle operators could face millions in fines if they don’t correctly maintain their vehicles.

SMMT’s van maintenance campaign

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has taken matters into their own hands to support better van maintenance and lower the likelihood of incurring additional costs and fines for operators of the 4 million plus vans currently registered in the UK.

The SMMT van maintenance campaign provides a 9-point plan so that drivers can complete daily maintenance checks with confidence. Thanks to this guide you can ensure your vehicle is maintained and you are fully prepared for the journey ahead. The campaign gives you the information you need to complete checks in the following areas:

  1. Load and towing
  2. Brakes and steering
  3. Tyres and wheels
  4. Lights and indicators
  5. Washers and wipers
  6. Mirrors and glass
  7. Seats and seatbelts
  8. Fluids, fuel & oil
  9. Bodywork and doors

The use of safety equipment

In addition to using the guide provided by the SMMT, van safety equipment is a worthwhile investment for drivers and fleet managers. Our specially developed Safe T Bar range can be used on light commercial vehicles and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs).   The Safe T Bar is fitted to Light Commercial Vehicles to help reduce damage through driver error when reversing or during loading. The rear underrun protective device (RUPDS) can be fitted easily to HGVs to protect other road users. The device uses an audible warning system to alert the driver and calls upon a swing back system to absorb impact at low speeds. Hope Technical Developments produces industry leading products to help protect drivers and other road users, and to help extend the life expectancy of light commercial vehicles and lower associated maintenance and repair costs.

For further information about our Safe T Bar and RUPD ranges please browse our website. You can also view the SMMT van maintenance guide for yourself here.

The Future of the Commercial Vehicle World

Futuristic VanTechnology plays an important role in every individual’s life, and whilst many industry sectors have evolved to embrace the perks of the latest advancements, the commercial vehicle world has lagged behind somewhat. That is until now! The commercial vehicle industry is becoming more digitally savvy, but what does the future hold for a more technologically aware market?

Driver information on the go

My DAF is one application that has taken the commercial vehicle world, and more specifically the heavy goods vehicle (HGV) scene, by storm. Available for free download via iTunes and Google Play, the My DAF app was recently upgraded to offer a wider range of features for drivers on the road and back at base. The application allows users to view the most up-to-date DAF driver literature such as brochures, information sheets, handbooks and even the ‘DAF In Action’ magazine.

Using the app, drivers can also view numerous training materials including videos for the new LF, CF and XF models. In addition to providing essential information wherever you are, the My DAF app gives drivers the tools and support to get the very best from their chosen DAF model. The My DAF app has already been a success throughout the international marketplace, so how many other truck manufacturing companies will follow suit with their own driver applications?

Blind spot detection devices

Blind spots have been a major issue for goods vehicle operators and according to research carried out by Transport for London and Barclays Cycle Superhighways, 100% of operators said that their company would benefit from the introduction of blind spot detection technology. The findings of this research prompted an international revival of previously shelved equipment, with the Backwatch system becoming an astounding success during trials.

As well as charting no breakdowns during use, the Backwatch system and associated safety technology effectively reduced the number of collisions between HGVs and cyclists, and reduced other sources of vehicle damage from powered vehicles and street furniture. Secondary benefits included decreased costs and insurance premiums. Blind spot detectors like the Backwatch system received the thumbs up from operators thanks to their discreet and non-distracting operation and ease of use.

On-board safety equipment

Our Hope Safe T Bar and Hope Safe T Step ranges offer the latest advancements in on-board safety equipment delivering a plethora of benefits for van and commercial vehicle owners. The Safe T Bar is designed specifically for heavy goods vehicles and uses an audible warning system to alert drivers of contact with an object whilst reversing to prevent damage to vehicles and other property. Safe T Bar products are also available for light commercial vehicles.

The Hope Safe T Step on the other hand was developed for light commercial vehicles to ensure easy and safe loading and unloading.

Driverless technology

Whilst driverless cars have dominated the technology headlines in recent years, Chancellor George Osborne recently revealed that driverless lorries will be trialled in the UK. Computer controlled HGV platoons will be used to enable vehicles to move within a group resulting in major fuel savings for fleet managers.

Abuse of Operators’ Licences – When is Enough, Enough?

Operators LicencesThe latest licensing laws can be a minefield for HGV drivers and the fleet operators that employ them, but like any piece of legislation, applying for and holding the right operator’s licence is an important part of fulfilling your obligations and meeting those statutory requirements. Under UK law, every vehicle over 3.5 tonnes needs an operator’s licence from the Department for Transport (DfT).

Depending on the type of licence held, there are a plethora of conditions that must be met, for example, the owner is liable to say where the vehicle will be parked as well as submit a record of its maintenance regime and complete 6-8 weekly checks. Unfortunately, not all operators are doing what they should in accordance with the latest goods vehicle licensing laws and many abuse the system. To ensure every goods vehicle operator is clued up on the latest requirements, we have developed an essential guide so you can discover more about the types of licence, the associated conditions and what happens if the terms of the licence are broken.

About the operator’s licence

Every lorry, van or other vehicle with a gross plated weight of more than 3,500kg must have a licence. Knowing the licence types available is the first step to preventing operator abuse.

There are three types of licences for UK goods vehicle operators, and which one you need may come down to the destination of your goods, your chosen route and your employer. The standard national licence must be held by operators who are using the vehicle to transport their own goods both within the UK and internationally. The same licence should be held by those transporting another organisation’s goods in the UK. The second licence type is the standard international licence, which should be applied for by those transporting their own goods and operators undertaking journeys on behalf of someone else in the UK and internationally. For standard international licence holders travelling between, through or exclusively within EU member countries, Community Licences must also be issued.

The third and final licence is known as the ‘restricted licence’ and allows the holder to carry their own goods for as long as they pay the continuation fee.

Terms to consider

As well as requesting additional licensing for travel in EU member countries, there are other terms that must be met. When applying for your operator’s licence you must give the address of your proposed operating centre to indicate where your vehicle and its trailers will be stored when not in use. Under licensing laws, you must carry out your own inspections and maintenance checks to ensure the vehicle you are using is safe and in good condition. The employment of other drivers also carries additional requirements.

Breaking the terms of your licence

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is clamping down on licence abuse and regularly carries out roadside and operating centre checks.

If your vehicle is overloaded, unroadworthy or the driver has broken the rules regarding the transport of dangerous goods or drivers’ hours, your vehicle could be prohibited. Your licence may also be revoked if terms aren’t met, your vehicle is prohibited following inspection, health and safety requirements aren’t adhered to, or you are convicted of certain offences.

Hope Technical Developments at the CV Show 2016

CV Show 2016 Logo






Hope will be exhibiting again this year at the Commercial Vehicle Show at the NEC Birmingham from April 26th to 28th.  We would be delighted to see you there, so if you are planning to visit the show please drop by stand D109 in Hall 5 and say hello.  We will be showcasing all of our products and introducing the brand new all-in-one van and tow overloading protection system.  We can discuss your commercial vehicle safety requirements and show you how the range of Hope products can work for you.

Is Your Fleet Legally Compliant?

Vehicle ChecksRegardless of the size or nature of your commercial fleet, putting safety first isn’t just a moral but a legal obligation. It’s no secret that without the right maintenance checks undertaken on a daily basis, your commercial vehicle could not only breach the latest UK health and safety legislation but leave you open to penalties with fines running in to the millions. Shockingly however van maintenance isn’t always completed and of the 10,800 vans stopped by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), 63% had major mechanical defects whilst more than 90% were overloaded.

As shocking as these recently released figures are it is essential to understand the importance of taking better care of your fleet. As well as saving you money in the long run, regular maintenance checks will also help to keep your drivers and other road users safe.

The SMMT van maintenance campaign

Launched in April 2015, the van maintenance campaign from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) offered plenty of food for thought for the commercial van industry. With more than 3.2 million vans currently servicing the UK, the need for a smooth running and safe fleet is bigger than ever. As well as providing the latest statistics regarding the road safety risk posed by commercial vehicles, campaign organisers published easy to follow guidance detailing how fleet managers and drivers everywhere can uphold safety and avoid the fines that are becoming a major issue industry-wide.

Your roadworthiness checklist

Thanks to guidance from the SMMT, maintaining roadworthiness is easier than ever and a responsibility that all vehicles carrying commercial goods should fulfil…

  • Beware of overloading and make sure all goods are fully secure in accordance with the vehicle’s maximum payload
  • Check that your brakes, tyres, wheels, seats, seatbelts, bodywork and doors are in good condition and free from damage
  • Ensure all lights and indicators work correctly – this includes all dashboard lights
  • Make sure all windscreen wipers are fully operational, whilst mirrors and glass should be aligned, secured and unobscured
  • Keep brake fluid, engine coolant, engine oil, power steering fluid and windscreen washer fluid at their optimum levels.

What else can be done to enhance safety?

In addition to utilising the roadworthiness checklist prior to every journey, there are a number of innovative products that can be invested in to protect your vehicle and enhance safety in the same breath. Our Hope Safe T Bar for example helps to reduce damage caused by driver error and forklift truck loading, a worthwhile investment for those looking to safeguard their vehicles, promote improved safety and effectively manage maintenance re

Transport Workplaces are Getting Safer – But How?

Transport Safety imageLike any market, the road haulage industry must safeguard its workforce and whilst in previous years there have been many scandalous articles regarding the haulage sector’s flailing reputation when it comes to Britain’s road safety record, it seems that statistics have taken a turn for the better recently.

As a supplier of UK made, industry approved products specifically designed to enhance handling and safety for fleet managers and the drivers that take to the roads on their behalf, we take safety very seriously indeed, and have become fascinated by the recent trends presented by the Department for Transport (DfT) and other industry bodies. Here we look closely at the latest statistics and the steps every fleet manager can take to improve safety further.

The road freight industry today

The number of transport workplaces in the UK has increased dramatically in recent years, with more enterprises than ever calling the industry their home. In 2013 there were 31,858 transport workplaces in total, all of which generated a staggering £22.9 billion for the UK economy, which may explain why more money and time has been spent enhancing safety throughout the sector ever since. With the rise of the number of HGV vehicles on our roads came the increasing importance of on-road safety, and according to the Department for Transport the industry has seen a 3% decrease in accident involvement rate for HGVs and an 8% decrease in LGV involvement.

Improving HGV safety

Despite the improved safety statistics presented by the DfT, the government and the fleet managers who work within the sector are keen to improve safety further and build on the UK’s reputation for having the safest roads in Europe. The majority of fatal transport workplace accidents occur due to being struck by a moving vehicle, falling loads, falls from vehicles, and collapsing or overturning vehicles, with issues involving the use of handbrakes, loading and unloading, the raising of vehicles for repair work and climbing onto vehicles being highlighted in particular.

Around 70% of all major, non-fatal injuries result due to slips and trips, being struck by moving or falling objects, falls from less than 2m, and manual handling issues. As an organisation within the haulage industry, tackling the management of these causes head on is important, and there are a number of guidelines from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that will make for essential reading. Your investment in specialist safety equipment will also help to protect your people and vehicles, and in turn enable you to manage maintenance costs.

Is the Commercial Vehicle Driver Shortage a Potential ‘Sticky Wicket’?

Van DrivingThere’s no hiding that HGV drivers don’t get it easy, as well as having to spend large amounts of time away from home, the lack of basic facilities on the road at service stations and in laybys aren’t points that fleet managers like to mention when doing their latest round of recruitment. Recent findings have actually revealed that the shortage of commercial vehicle drivers is at crisis point, so what exactly is going on?

Here at Hope Technical Developments we pride ourselves on being at the heart of innovation when it comes to industry grade, fully accredited HGV safety equipment, and in turn we like to keep up with the latest goings on throughout the sector. We had to find out more about the driver shortage currently affecting the market and what can be, and is being, done to make this crucial role desirable once more.

The statistics behind the crisis

The shortage of HGV and LGV drivers isn’t just an isolated problem, it is a UK wide issue that could in fact bring this, until now thriving, industry to a halt. According to a recent survey, the UK will need an extra 150,000 drivers by 2020 to cope with the increasing number of demands on the industry, but with nine vacancies available to every qualified lorry driver, this may not be a figure that can be reached recruitment-wise. Without the right steps being taken now, the problem is also unlikely to go away – according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the average age of an LGV driver is 45 years or over and with retirement approaching for the majority of long distance lorry drivers and no young people to replace them, logistics operators may be struggling even more in the coming years.

Statistics provided by a recent Commercial Fleet poll put things into perspective further as 75% of operators highlighted driver recruitment and retention as a major issue, with all commenting on their struggle to recruit drivers.

Government help for the industry

With the crisis reaching fever pitch, the government has pledged their support to improve recruitment and retention throughout the industry. In the March Budget, Chancellor George Osborne addressed concerns directly and pledged to review the speed in which HGV driver testing and driver medical assessments are conducted and finalised. Will this be enough to help the industry meet its recruitment goal by 2020? Only time will tell…

The Bestselling Commercial Vans of 2015

Ford Transit at hope Technical DevelopmentsAs we all get back to work again in January and start a new year, it is worth looking at the trends that 2015 has highlighted for the commercial van industry. Quarter 1 of 2015 in fact saw a record number of commercial van sales with the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) providing exciting news for us in particular as a leading manufacturer and supplier of innovative handling and safety equipment for vans and other commercial vehicles.

Government statistics went one step further to reveal that in light of recent developments and trends it is estimated that there will be 6 million light commercial vehicles (LCVs) on the road in the not so distant future compared to the 3.7 million present now.

The statistics behind the story

According to the SMMT, between January and March 2015, 108,456 vans and trucks were registered in the UK, figures that make quarter 1 of 2015 the best on record.

As many of you may know, the commercial van industry in particular suffered badly during the recession so these statistics are music to the ears of both the new and established haulage and transport companies currently taking charge of the sector. The latest quarterly figures reveal demand is getting stronger and the wider sector more confidently investing in the vehicles that can deliver the goods and services needed, a far cry from 2009 when just 221,132 commercial vehicles were registered throughout the entire year. At Hope Technical Developments we have seen record production numbers right across our product range.

The top ten van registrations

As part of the SMMT survey, a number of commercial van models topped the tables in regards to registration numbers. So far the following models have garnered the most UK registrations as documented here:

  1. Ford Transit Custom – 12,627
  2. Vauxhall Vivaro – 7,449
  3. Volkswagen Transporter – 5,765
  4. Peugeot Partner – 5,611
  5. Ford Transit – 5,276
  6. Citroen Berlingo – 5,207
  7. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter – 5,012
  8. Ford Transit Connect – 4,096
  9. Renault Trafic – 3,368
  10. Peugeot Boxer – 2,844

Why the big sales boost?

There is no doubt that things are looking up for the commercial van and truck industry, with more and more firms willing to invest in their fleet, but with the December events of Black Friday and Cyber Monday comes new statistics that could see van sales driven even further. The rise (and rise) of online shopping deliveries, courtesy of better browsing on smartphones and tablets, has helped to increase the purchases of new commercial vehicles by 22% so could new UK consumer confidence be the real reason behind the sales surge seen in the past year?


No doubt by the time we reach the Commercial Vehicle Show at the NEC in April we will know how 2016 is shaping up. Come and see us in Hall 5 on stand D109 – we are ready for more record figures all round.

The Trouble with Truckers’ Toilet Facilities

Drivers Toilet Facilities Whilst here at Hope Technical Developments, our team has been at the cutting edge of fleet technology – being responsible for the introduction of innovative handling and safety equipment in the industry – we understand that there are some age old problems that simply haven’t gone away. A lack of good toilet facilities is one major issue that has been hampering recruitment since our own founder Fred Hope started his own haulage business all those years ago.

Alongside unsociable hours and time away from loved ones, driver toilet facilities have been a major concern for those looking to begin a career in long distance lorry driving and those wishing to continue. But what can be done to quash this long running issue for good by drivers and roadside facilities alike?

Continuing the work of NLW 2015

Toilet facilities for those who call the long distance lorry driving industry their home have always been few and far between, and whilst this year’s National Lorry Week (NLW), which took place in October, worked to combat the issues associated with the health and well-being of lorry drivers and in turn improve quality of life on the road, continuing the work of the Road Haulage Association (RHA) and other NLW organisers is a must as we enter 2016.

The event’s ‘Love the Lorry’ campaign was particularly successful and helped to provide positive progression for the RHA, its members and other drivers throughout the sector.

Improving health and safety for drivers

There are many factors that influence health and well-being for drivers currently taking to roads across the globe to make the haulage sector as successful as it always has been. It’s only human to go to the toilet, and alongside issues with hot water at service stations throughout the UK, the lack of loos with safe parking is a problem. Lorry drivers should not be forced to hold on, reduce their fluid intake or be vilified for using quiet spots as toilets when nature calls. Instead more facilities should be made available so that drivers and communities alike can live in harmony! Facilities like the food van in a Petworth layby that recently installed a portaloo to show their support for long distance lorry drivers is seeing the benefit of better facilities for everyone.

Show your support

Like the food van in Petworth, you too can show your support for better facilities on the road. Sign the Provide Better, Safer Rest Areas for Goods Vehicles on UK Motorways/Trunkroads petition today.

Driver Fuel Cards – How to Keep Track of What Your Drivers are Spending

Driver Feul Cards Hope TechnicalHere at Hope Technical Developments, safety is of course of the utmost importance, and we have made it our business to address associated problems with our products since we started out in 1962. As a result we understand the van and commercial vehicle sector implicitly, our founder Fred Hope even had his very own fleet of AEC trucks! Whilst haulage businesses everywhere are passionate about putting safety first, keeping track of and reducing driver spend is also a constant concern for fleet operators.


There are many ways that fleet operators can manage the provision of fuel, and driver fuel cards have proved to be particularly effective for haulage businesses big and small, but what do you need to know about fuel cards and how exactly do they cut fleet costs?

An introduction to driver fuel cards

There are many fleet fuel services that claim to be the very best provider of fuel cards, and whilst sorting the wheat from the chaff to find the solution that works for you and your fleet is important, understanding exactly how fuel cards will help you get the most out of driving is important. Businesses all over the UK already utilise fuel cards, and to this day, these cards are a popular and effective way of managing fuel purchases.

Fuel cards are given to drivers to make all their fuel purchases, whether they intend to make a large deposit or a series of smaller transactions throughout the month. By using fuel cards, the fleet operator can successfully control spending and manage this inevitable expense regardless of how much pump prices increase or company fuel budgets grow.

What are the benefits of fuel card use?

As we’ve mentioned briefly the use of driver fuel cards is beneficial whether your drivers make small or large purchases. In addition to ensuring central or cost centre level billing and providing a robust way of managing these frequently made transactions, fuel cards can lower the risk of abuse, limiting purchases of non-fuel or retail products. Reports can be easily generated to chart overall fleet fuel consumption as well as individual purchases, giving fleet operators the means to identify trends and make accurate forecasts for the months or years ahead.

For particularly large fleets, volume discounts or fixed fuel prices may also be made available across the country, small discounts that can make for huge savings for your fleet.