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.

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.

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.

What Will the Reduction of Vehicle Testing Facilities Mean for My Business?

Vehicle Testing StationFor commercial vehicle fleet operators, the need to run a tight ship can mean the difference between success and failure, regardless of the type of cargo that you transport. Van safety is particularly important, however, with the reduction of vehicle testing facilities, many fleet operators may have questions about what the closures will mean for their wider organisation.

Here we take a closer look at why van safety matters and what you can do to ensure safe practice continues regardless of test facility closures.

How testing is changing

The annual test for lorries, buses and trailers, similar to the MOT test, is changing. Whilst the number of testing facilities is being reduced, in a quest for a more flexible and efficient service Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) assessors are improving the service they provide to remaining authorised testing facilities (ATFs).

The importance of van safety

With more than 3.2 million vans on the roads in the UK, for the organisations operating fleets and the businesses enlisting them for assistance, safety should be high on their list of priorities. A recent survey by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed that poorly maintained vans are actually costing the UK economy millions of pounds each and every year, and of the 10,800 vans stopped at the roadside annually 85% are overloaded, 54% have major mechanical faults and shockingly 50% fail their class 7 MOT.

What can I do to promote safety?

Whilst the closure of many VOSA testing facilities for vans above 3.5 tonnes across the UK is worrying for fleet operators who have until now relied on them to ensure their vans are correctly maintained, there are a variety of steps that can be taken to take matters into your own hands.

Completed on a daily basis, the simple checks detailed below could help you avoid the penalties and prohibitions that go hand-in-hand with vans that are not roadworthy.

  • Understand the van’s maximum payload to ensure overloading can be prevented
  • Check the vehicle’s brakes and steering, paying particular attention to the parking brake when the van is stationary and fully loaded
  • Examine the tread depth, inflation and condition of your van’s tyres
  • Make sure all lights, indicators, washers and wipers are fully operational
  • Ensure all mirrors are correctly aligned and secured
  • Top up your van’s brake fluid, engine coolant, engine oil, power steering fluid and windscreen washer fluid
  • Make sure all bodywork and doors are fully secure
  • Utilise specialist van and commercial vehicle safety equipment such the Hope Safe T Bar under run bars, safety steps in the Hope Safe T Step range and the Hope Tool lift system.

Alongside the daily maintenance checks mentioned above, booking an annual test at an ATF is vital.


Regulation 58 Rear Underrun Bumpers

REAR UNDERRUN PROTECTIVE DEVICES (RUPDS) Regulation 58 Comes in on the 29th October 2012 Most HGV Truck and Trailers will be required to fit a type approved RUPD Hope Technical Developments have available both Fixed and swing back RUPD available from stock. We also have our own in house RUPD test cell for type approval of your bespoke RUPD; please contact us to find out more details of how we can help you with your RUPD requirements. Hope has over 24 years experience in designing and build RUPD with our first approval being granted in 1988.