Fleet News

German move puts new spotlight on safety

A BID by four major German organisations to improve the lot of the country's van drivers has cast a renewed spotlight on health and safety issues among British LCV fleets.

It is estimated that there are 2.3 million vans on Germany's roads and in 2001, the latest year for which figures are available, there were 20,700 injury accidents involving commercial vehicles.

The German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), German Automobile Club (ADAC), Association of Motor Vehicle Importers (VDIK) and German Road Safety Council (DVR) have launched a programme aimed at promoting driver safety.

VDA president Professor Bernd Gottschalk said: 'The important thing is for van drivers to undergo professional training so traffic safety will be improved. A speed limit for vans would be the wrong approach and would not lead anywhere.'

Both the VDA and the VDIK say they are also working to ensure LCVs across Europe are fitted with ABS, driver's airbags and load safety systems as standard. But they say driver error is also often to blame for accidents and the country's manufacturers need to offer driver training to customers buying new vans.

VDIK president Volker Lange said: 'We are worried about the rising number of accidents involving vans. However, a general speed limit will not solve the problem. Instead, we have to increase investment in training for drivers, precisely in the areas of load safety and driving behaviour.'

DVR president Professor Manfred Bandmann added: 'The aim of the drivers' safety training programme is that dangerous situations should be recognised and avoided, while taking into account the limitations of both drivers and their vehicles.' The associations say part of the problem is that van drivers only need a basic driver's licence, even if they tow a trailer. Many drivers are unaware of how to secure a load and what effect that load will have on the van's driving.

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