For 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.