Fleets are now being urged to ensure new drivers undergo basic driver training – varying from going out with an experienced driver for a day to a comprehensive training programme.
Leasing company Interleasing says the image of a young hot-headed 'white van man' cutting up other drivers and witnessing hundreds of accidents in his rear-view mirror is not a stereotype.
Its study suggests that firms can ensure accidents are kept to a minimum, as well as hold on to their no-claims bonus, if they check candidates' CVs for experience behind the wheel.
Where no experience exists, driver training should be provided before they are allowed out on company business, the company says.
Diarmuid Fahy, accident services manager at Interleasing, said: 'This is possibly a recruitment issue. When employing young people, companies must bear in mind their driving experience. There needs to be recognition that driving a van is very different to driving a car.
'It is often the case that young people pass their driving tests and are then given the keys to a van as soon as they start work without any thought to the fact that they have never driven a commercial vehicle before.
'Businesses should not hand over keys without first giving some driver training. This may involve just going out for the day with a more experienced van driver or could be a more comprehensive training programme depending on need.'
The company's statistics are taken from research undertaken by ProAct, Interleasing's accident management service, which uses modelling software to analyse the incidents involving about 3,000 company van drivers.
Young drivers cost firms more
INTERLEASING'S survey revealed that the most accident-prone van drivers are between the ages of 17 and 30. They account for about 20% of incidents.
Interleasing says that as a benchmark, it would normally expect that figure to be about 10%.
Younger drivers also cost businesses more. They have very high average repair costs – 17 to 25-year-old van drivers cost on average £1,134 whenever they have an accident as opposed to the average cost of £898. In 35% of incidents, the 17 to 25-year-olds have hit someone else and 55% of accidents reported are their fault.
The average accident repair cost for a van is £898, which is more than £100 more than the average cost for a company fleet car.