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January is to see the start of a new van safety campaign launched by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in an attempt to improve van safety.

The DVSA is taking a look at the way that they approach prohibitive fines and notices, and is focusing on the relationship between van operator and driver education. Instead of coming down on people like a sword of Damocles issuing fines and penalties, they are hoping to encourage a ‘self-help’ attitude towards vehicular safety compliance.

Instead the DVSA is suggesting that fleet operators and drivers could go some way towards compliance themselves by taking a short 10 minute walk around the vehicle before undertaking journeys. This vehicle check should primarily focus on bodywork condition, breaks and tyres.

Gordon MacDonald, Head of Enforcement Policy at VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency) has said, “That would solve a multitude of problems”, he also went on to explain how vehicle mechanical condition and vehicle overloading were key DVSA concerns, alongside a 50% MoT van failure rate.

MacDonald also stated that, “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.” Having the vehicle loaded heavily in an incorrect fashion can lead to unnecessary wear-and-tear on certain parts of the vehicle; these can all be factors that attribute towards the vehicle failing it's MoT, or not being compliant with safety standards.

The DVSA have also released a van walk around checklist that fleet operators and drivers can use to give their vehicles a once over, thus helping to ensure that their vans are somewhat geared towards the vehicular safety compliance.

Of course this won’t replace proper maintenance undertaken by a trained professional but it will go towards familiarising the driver with the vehicle and can act as an early warning system towards any potential issues that the vehicle may have in the future.

Also, making sure that you have the correct van insurance policy for your vehicle will go a long way to making sure that everything is up to code.