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FTA looks to change perceptions of 'white van man'

By: William Hobson
30 November 2010

A new campaign launched by the Freight Transport Association (FTA) is looking to change one of the most entrenched and distorted perceptions in popular culture - the 'white van man'.

The new "Van Excellence" campaign from the FTA seeks to boost the professional profile of those undertaking driving work in the classic transit van, challenging such stereotypes by introducing a new Code of Excellence for van drivers. Fleet News reports that the goal of Van Excellence is to introduce some of the regulatory, professional standards of HGV logistics work to 3.5-tonne vehicles, such as the standards required by the Operators License and the driver CPC training scheme.

Some 65 companies have reportedly registered with the campaign; between them, these companies operate some 150,000 vans in the UK.

Speaking to Fleet News, Mike Revell, group director of transport at Clancy Group, said that Van Excellence doesn't just offer good PR for signatories - it should also boost health and safety standards and lead to a number of cost benefits.

"The code is about educating companies to increase their awareness and improve standards," he says. "We have strict maintenance programmes in place for our vans but for many the only checks they have are when the vehicle has its MOT."

The scheme has two 'streams' for standards: vehicle related undertakings such as roadworthiness, safety, working environment and maintenance standards; and driver-related undertakings, such as licensing, driver training, behaviour, compliance and competence. According to the members of Van Excellence, these streams will result in better maintained vehicles and safer drivers - resulting in reduced accident rates, lowered insurance premiums and fuel consumption rates, as well as helping to drive re-sale values higher.

According to Van Excellence's members, the scheme is also useful in pre-empting possible legislation which could add cost and admin time to industry standards.

Richard Cook, fleet director for DHL, says: "If we don't do it ourselves, legislation will come in and we will be forced to do it. This way we have control over the process in defining the model."

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