Overloading a risk to Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency

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Commercial van insurance is only ever going to get significantly cheaper if there are significant and measurable improvements in the road safety records of the UK’s vans.

This is not to say that commercial vehicles are any more accident prone than other vehicles. In fact, numerous studies have shown that although vans are more likely to be involved in an accident than non commercial vehicles this is only because they accrue a much higher average mileage; on a per mile travelled basis commercial vehicles are actually much less likely to be involved in a road traffic accident than other types of vehicle.

One area in which there is plenty of room for safety improvement, however, is van loading; although there has been major progress in van safety technology overloading of vans could compromise these gains.

This a view shared by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which has campaigned for increased awareness of the dangers of overloading.

“Manufacturers are investing significant amounts in new safety technology, but this can only do part of the job. We continue to urge operators and owners to comply with the law to keep themselves and others safe, avoid the risk of fines and keep the threat of further legislation at bay,” Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, recently told media.

“Vans have never played a more important role in the British economy, with a record four million vans now on our roads, so it is a concern that this in-use safety record remains so poor.

The statistics certainly assert the need for increased awareness of the dangers of overloading. Last year the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency weighed 2,381 vans. Of these 88.5% were found to be overloaded. Not only is this dangerous, it is also against the law and risks invalidating a driver’s commercial van insurance.

It is all very well investing in the latest technology systems – from collision avoidance to autonomous braking and parking assistance – but to do this without then taking proper consideration for something as elementary as correctly loading your van is to risk both safety and accusations of a dangerous level of complacency.

Gordon Macdonald, Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency compliance service manager, has urged all van drivers to consider the dangers of overloading. “Overloading continues to be a real issue on our roads,” he says. “And drivers and businesses need to carefully consider their legal responsibility towards vehicle weight compliance, so we fully support the SMMT’s latest important van safety message.”

It is also worth remembering that overloading can invalidate your commercial van insurance. For more information regarding overloading click here.