Of these van drivers, the majority were using a phone in their hand rather than holding it to their ear; 1.9 per cent of van drivers in England and Scotland were observed holding a phone in their hand compared with 0.7 per cent observed holding the phone to their ear.
Van traffic is currently growing rapidly, reaching the highest ever level at 45 billion vehicle miles last year, according to Road Use Statistics Great Britain 2016. This increase in van traffic is thought to be closely related to the 10 per cent year-on-year growth of online and home shopping. The increase has shown a natural increase in employment within the road freight industry, up six per cent in 2014, to 222,000.
But whereas van traffic has shown an increase of 12 per cent from January 2013, the opposite trend is true of HGVs. Research suggests increased van use may be substituting for HGVs. Factors include the lower wages of van drivers, the rise in home deliveries and, lastly, the fact both the fleet management and drivers of vans are less regulated than HGVs.
“There is no additional test or qualification required to drive a van, over the basic car licence,” said IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, Neil Greig. “This compares directly to drivers of HGVs, who must undertake a test in the vehicle they drive and continued professional development through the driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC). As more and more orders are made online, it is very likely the increased growth in the number of van drivers will continue.
“But whether your fleet is made up of vans or HGVs, the same corporate manslaughter laws apply, and as an employer, it is not enough to assume just holding a driving licence will keep your drivers safe. With additional pressures on them, including often overly optimistic delivery schedules, van drivers face challenges car drivers rarely will.”