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Van man cometh - in increasing numbers!

By: Dave Robbins
25 August 2015

Over the past 13 years the number of vans on UK roads has grown from 2.5 to 3.4m. And, according to Government statistics, between now and 2020, it’s all set to double again.
Reasons behind the vans increasing popularity are many. For a start, there’s the rise of home shopping. 2014 figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show an 11.8% increase compared to 2013. Home delivery from department stores is the fastest growing sector, up 53% since 2011. Average spend in on-line shopping was £718.7m.  
Another factor is that logistics operators are becoming far more analytical in the way they use their vehicles. For instance vans are less polluting than small trucks. And, on our busy city streets, quicker and more manoeuvrable.
Of course, apart from gloomy truck manufacturers, there are other downsides to the story. There’s the likelihood of increased congestion. The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) estimates that, in terms of like for like capacity, replacing a 12 tonne truck with a 3.5 tonne van requires an additional 167% of road space. And  anyone with a valid category B driving licence can get behind the wheel of a 3.5 tonne van, which could lead to an increasing in road accidents.
In fact, at the moment, the reverse is true. Vans are involved in relatively few road accidents - just 5% - most of which occur in urban areas.
Another concern from those within the industry are the relatively light regulations applying to vans when compared to trucks. For instance, overloading. Around half of of fleet managers responding to a Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle survey admitted that they don’t know their vans’ maximum load carrying capacity. This is reflected in the fact that nine out of ten vans pulled over by the DVSA in 2015 were found to be overweight. No wonder there are calls for all vans to have an ‘O’ Licence.
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