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SME’s must focus on safety when equipping fleet vehicles 

As overloading tops DVSA list of van driver offences, posing a risk to drivers and other road users

With the latest figures from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) revealing that overloading is the number one offence committed by van drivers in the first quarter of the yeari, Venson Automotive Solutions is urging SMEs to ensure their vehicles are safe and legally road compliant by being ‘fit for purpose’.  As the average fine for those convicted of overloading a light goods vehicle is £9721, overloading presents an obvious danger to the driver and other road users but can also hit the pocket of small business owners.

Businesses need to take into consideration how their vehicles are used, including the working environment and the payload of the goods and equipment they are carrying. Crucially, these need to be considered prior to any conversion.  Organisations also need to make sure staff are equipped with the knowledge they need to operate the vehicle and the on-board equipment, so a thorough vehicle handover and understanding of health & safety implications related to vehicle loading, are key.  

“When it comes to equipping vehicles, it’s essential to keep in mind the payload quoted by the manufacturer,” explains Operations Director, Lee O’Neill at Venson Automotive Solutions. “Fitting crash tested storage equipment, such as racking, and including a bulkhead in the vehicle helps improve driver safety.  And whilst equipment can be recycled, where appropriate, it’s important any products being reused should meet current legislation. Fitting telematics can also help with some aspects of driver safety and security, as well as providing businesses with the data they need to improve operational and business efficiency. 

“Too many businesses cut corners when it comes to equipping their vehicles, or don’t recognise the impact an inferior product could have on vehicle or driver safety. It is up to both the driver and their business to load vehicles correctly with safely secured equipment and to keep the van within its legal weight limit.” 

More than 4 million vans are registered in the UK, demonstrating the important role they play in the economy.  Meanwhile, manufacturers continue to invest significant amounts in new safety technology, but this can only do part of the job. Operators and owners who comply with the law, keep themselves and others safe and avoid the risk of hefty fines. 

Lee O’Neill concludes, “Getting the vehicle specification correct at the outset can save businesses time and money but more importantly improve staff safety. We work closely with organisations to advise on the correct fit out for their fleet vehicles, with the aim of assisting them to meet their operational and financial objectives, while also helping their drivers and other road users stay safe on our roads.”  

Venson offers SMEs top tips on best practice to ensure vehicles are safe and legally road compliant. 

Venson’s Vehicle Loading Safety Tips 

  • Know the weight and weight limits of your vehicle. Maximum permitted axle weight and Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) can be found in the vehicle handbook or sometimes on a plate located by the bulkhead or by the driver or passenger door. 
  • Be careful not to mix up the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) with the Gross Train Weight (GTW). The GVW is the maximum permitted weight of the vehicle (plus any load it is carrying), while the GTW is the maximum permitted weight of the vehicle plus any trailer being towed (plus any load being carried in the vehicle and trailer)  
  • Ensure the load is distributed evenly. After any drop-offs, re-check the distribution of the remaining load and that it is secured safely – heavy items on the bottom, lighter items on the top.   
  • Each axle has a weight limit. If the vehicle exceeds either the front or rear axle weight, then it is breaking the law. 
  • Ensure the GVW is checked before setting out using your own weigh pads or use a public weighbridge. Alternatively consider having your vehicle fitted with an on-board weighing system.  
  • Never automatically trust declared weights, invoices or delivery notes given to you. Remember that you hold the responsibility for not overloading. 
  • Loads should be secured to make sure they do not slide around during transport. In vehicle storage solutions may help.  
  • Carry out a health & safety assessment for loading and unloading the vehicle, both internal items and external items such as ladders, materials etc. 
  • Consider alternative storage solutions. What was once carried on the roof/side of vehicle may now not necessarily be required. 
  • Is everything that is being carried in the vehicle required? Consider alternative solutions such as onsite delivery from suppliers. 





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