Fleet News

Van survey: Survey gives insight into the world of vans

With van sales consistently hitting record levels over the past few months, the Government’s production of major research into the use of company-owned commercial vehicles on Britain’s roads has been perfectly timed.

Latest figures show that LCV sales for the year so far are 188,946 units, up 8.3% from the same period the previous year.

Now, the Department for Transport has just released the findings of its survey into van activity during 2003.

The survey asked 3,500 owners of company-owned vans to provide details of their journeys made on specific days.

They were asked for information relating to the vehicle and its activity, time and day of journey, reason for the trip, type of goods and equipment being carried, type of business for which the vehicle was being used and information about the origin and destination of journeys.

It found that just 3% of journeys made in company-owned vans are for personal use only and that 15% of the total distance covered is by vans that are more than three-quarters full.

The report said: ‘Over the last decade, the van population (not above 3.5-tonnes) has increased by about a fifth and van traffic by a third, compared with increases of about 15% in car traffic and 20% in heavy goods vehicle traffic.

‘There is a need therefore to obtain information about vans to complement information available on cars and heavy goods vehicles to provide a complete picture, particularly in relation to road freight activity.’

Another finding, perhaps not surprisingly, was that the peak periods for travelling during the week are between 7am and 9am and between 4pm and 6pm, when a quarter of company-owned vans are in use.

During the week, 10% of vans are in use by 7am, but at weekends, between the hours of 8am and 6pm, little more than 5% of vans are in use. Also at weekends, around three-quarters (72%) of the vans on the road are privately owned – this compares to less than half of vans (41%) on the road during weekdays being privately owned.

The construction industry was found to account for a third of vehicle kilometres covered in vans, with the wholesale and retail trades taking nearly a fifth.

Privately-owned vans are found mainly in the construction sector and these account for 38% of the distance travelled by vans in the sector.

The report says that company-owned vans are more widely spread over a number of different sectors.

These include agriculture, forestry and fishing, mining and quarrying, transport, health and social work and banking and finance.

Nearly half of all travel involving vans is for the transportation of tools, machinery and equipment.

Vans in all sectors were found to be empty for one in six journeys. The delivery of goods accounted for 3,904 million miles last year and travelling between jobs for 3,994 million miles.

The Government study also includes details of company-owned vans by year of registration. The oldest vehicle was registered in 1973, while most (568) were registered in 2002.

For all vans, both company and privately owned, the key findings were that at weekends three-quarters of the vans in use are privately owned. This is in contrast to weekdays, when less than half of vans in use are privately owned.

Another finding was that travel for personal reasons becomes more important at weekends, especially on Sundays, mainly at the expense of collection and delivery and travelling between jobs.

Fact file (Vehicle miles in millions a year by type of vehicle)

Panel van 5,789
Light goods 3,372
Light van 2,003
Box, specially fitted, Luton and insulated van 2,799
Car derived van 5,657
Pick-up 1,086
Van, van with side windows and all other types of van 825
All vehicles 21,529

Reason for journey

Collection and/or delivery of goods 35%
Travelling to and from work 32%
Travelling between jobs 19%
Other use 8%
Personal use 3%
Empty travel 3%

LCV facts and figures revealed

Key findings from the Government’s company-owned van survey were that during 2003:
  • 35% of the distance travelled by company vans is in connection with the collection or delivery of goods
  • One-third (32%) of travel is performed between home and work and a further one-fifth (19%) when vans are travelling between jobs
  • Only 3% of the distance travelled is for personal use, compared with 17% for privately-owned vans
  • The peak periods for travel during the week are between 7am and 9am and between 4pm and 6pm, when about 30% of vans are in use
  • At weekends, no more than 4% of vans are in use during any one-hour period
  • The construction industry accounts for around one-third (29%) of vehicle kilometres and the wholesale and retail trade for one-fifth (19%)
  • The transport of tools, machinery and equipment accounts for more than half (54%) of all travel
  • Vans are empty for 13% of total distance travelled
  • Five-sixths (84%) of distance travelled is for journeys that start and end in the same Government Office Region, although for journeys starting in London the share is lower (73%)
  • 15% of distance is travelled with vans over three-quarters full and 36% with vans less than one-quarter full
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