if you haven’t looked at the official figures, if you’ve been out
and about on UK roads, you’ll have been struck by the increasing
numbers of vans scurrying here and there. It’s activity fuelled by
our insatiable appetite for online sales and our growing preference
for having our purchases arrive on our doorstep.
Research shows that van usage has increased by 5% annually over recent years and shows no signs of slowing down. However, there are now growing concerns that vans of up to 3.5 tonnes are not sufficiently regulated. There are calls for vans to be subject to the same compliance standards of those of HGVs, specifically concerning the use of tachos, compulsory rest breaks and higher safety standards.
large online retailers use drivers on a self-employed basis to
deliver their orders. This flexible business model frees them from
issues such as providing
vehicles, paying road tax, driver insurance, vehicle maintenance and
the same time, expectations are that these drivers will deliver up to
180 parcels a day based on the assumption each drop takes approx. 3
minutes. The reality is somewhat different. With adverse traffic
conditions and poor building mapping, some drivers are working until
midnight to finish their allotted deliveries. Precisely the working
conditions HGV tacho regulation is designed to deter.
In short, unregulated van deliveries offer both a commercial advantage to large online companies and, perhaps more worrying; bring additional safety concerns to van drivers and other road users.
The Case For Legislation
Unsurprisingly, bodies like the GMB are taking action to try to curb the exploitation of van drivers by large online retailers. They have brought court cases against delivery firms for using contract staff but treating them like in-house labour. As GMB union national officer, Mick Rix commented:
“This is a cheap model with no risk and cost to the company. Because they are not employed, the company avoids its responsibilities for road traffic accidents and other issues such as adherence to road traffic regulations. This creates an uneven playing field and unfair competitive advantage.”
Surprisingly, when asked Amazon agreed to the use of tacho’s in sub-3.5 tonne vans was a good idea and would help drive best practice in the growing middle-mile delivery sector.
More remarkable is the lack of consensus amongst industry bodies on the subject. The DVLA, FTA and RHA are taking a wait and see approach to the topic; especially given EU regulations in this area are currently under development and may bring legal clarity in the future.
All stakeholders, however, expressed concerns about the potential for driver exploitation and poor working conditions in this part of the delivery sector. Most think issues like training, safety checks and robust MOT criteria for vans are more pressing matters to consider.
The number of middle-mile vans on UK roads will inevitably increase. These will gradually include more EVs as urban clean air zones start to implement.
Inevitably, the debate around legal standards and safety will develop and further regulation will ensue at some point. Whether the planned EU tacho laws will make it onto the UK statute book remains to be seen. All we can do is monitor the issues and act accordingly.
Whatever happens, you can be sure Truckcraft’s build standards and R&D activity will always be compliant with prevailing legislation and regulation. Buying a Truckcraft van is your guarantee you’re using one of the safest, most efficient and driver-friendly delivery vehicles on the road today.
For more information on our range of delivery trucks and vans, please contact the Truckcraft Bodies sales team on 0161 304 9404. Alternatively, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Published: Jan 29