New Safety Campaign Announced by DVSA

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has announced that it will be rolling out a new campaign targeting van safety. The approach will encourage operators and fleets to take a proactive approach to driver education and compliance rather than seeking to penalize and fine. According to DVSA head of enforcement scheme Gordon MacDonald, improvements in compliance can easily be made by simply including a visual check of the vehicles prior to driving. He suggests a ten-minute walk round to focus on brakes, bodywork condition and tyres. “That would save a multitude of problems,” he said. Much of the agency’s concern goes to overloading and mechanical condition, and with good reason.

Checks that were carried out by the agency in 2013/2014 revealed that after weight checks on 3,031 vehicles, 83.9% were given prohibition notices. There was also a van MOT failure rate of 50%, with most failing due to brakes, suspension and signals or lighting. “We want to encourage operators not to think about the sheer volume, but the weight and distribution of the goods and materials being carried. It is easy to sort out,” MacDonald said.

The campaign is planned for a three-month period, and will include having MOT stations providing key fobs and stickers in four cities. There will also be a website available with significant educational information for operators and drivers. After the three months the DVSA will determine whether to continue the program, but will continue to promote van safety and compliance through the Freight Transport Association’s Van Excellence program as well. According to MacDonald, “We want van operators and drivers to recognize what the issues are and help themselves rather than DVSA come along with a big stick. We have always seen vans as being problematic, but it is easy to detect potential issues around overloading through visible checks on front and back axles, the effect on tyres and suspension levels. We will continue to undertake enforcement checks on a small scale, but fleets can save themselves time and money by paying attention to vehicles operated and contribute to an improvement in MOT failure rates and a reduction in roadside prohibition notices. A safe vehicle is a cost-effective vehicle to operate.”