Although motorists often lambast van drivers, their anger at such poor road sense could be misplaced.
The actual cause of the problem is a lack of investment in proper training by employers and their penny-pinching is causing accidents and ruining lives, according to AA Business Services. The company’s corporate driver training programme head Paul Holmes said: ‘White van man is often an apprentice who is being well trained in the tools he needs to perform his job, but his company may not teach anything about the largest and most dangerous tool of the trade – his van.
‘There is nothing in law that prevents a 17-year-old who has just passed his test from being handed the keys to a long-wheelbase, high-roof light commercial vehicle on his first day in the job without being given specialist training.’
Experts believe the overall population of van drivers represents one-sixth of the UK’s driving population, but is responsible for 25% of all road fatalities.
Holmes added: ‘White van man is an easy target but nothing has been done to encourage the employer to take greater responsibility for why he drives the way he does. We have had fleet managers sending drivers and vehicles to our training programmes, only to have it postponed due to the vehicle not being roadworthy.’
An affected driver speaks out
A DRIVER has told how he crashed a company van just days after being handed the keys because he was not offered any driver training.
Asking not to be named, he told Fleet NewsNet: ‘I started the job with a national contractor last year and after a three-day training course on the day-to-day aspects of the job I was handed the keys to a brand new Vauxhall Vivaro.
The company was not concerned that I had never driven a van before and no driver training was offered. After just one week, I was given a large number of jobs to complete in one day. Rushing to the final job of the day, I approached a set of traffic lights which were on green. A motorhome was turning right and I thought there was enough space to drive past on the left.
‘There wasn’t and I scraped the side of the motorhome, which turned out to be worth more than £70,000.
‘My company blamed me for the incident but with no training and a heavy workload I feel that the company was to blame.’