Fewer crashes involving vans despite increase in miles travelled

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The selfish, inconsiderate "white van man" is just an urban myth, says road safety charity IAM RoadSmart.

Figures from the Department for Transport show that, even though vans are the fastest growing type of vehicle on UK roads in terms of miles travelled, serious and fatal crashes involving them are falling.

Vans and light goods vehicles now travel 49 billion miles a year on UK roads, according to the most recent figures from 2016. That's 10 billion miles more a year than a decade ago, or an increase of 22% -- largely fuelled by internet shopping and the popularity of 'next day delivery' options.

Yet crashes involving vans have fallen from 15,593 in 2006 to 13,125 in 2016, with fatalities reducing from 274 to 186 over the same period.

IAM RoadSmart puts this reduction partly down to companies employing their own drivers and using robust driver training and vehicle management programmes. The rise of social media has been another factor, as companies can no longer risk the damage to their reputation caused by bad driving in vehicles bearing their company logo.

The UK van fleet is also getting newer, which means the vehicles are more likely to contain the latest in crash protection and active and passive safety features. Over a third (37%) of vans on the road today are less than five years old, compared to just 5% of cars.

To further increase safety, IAM RoadSmart recommends that drivers take rest breaks and make regular checks to ensure their vehicle is roadworthy and correctly loaded. Frequent driver training can also help ensure knowledge and skill levels are maintained.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, commented: "It is heartening to see that van operators are more than ever taking their responsibilities to their drivers and the public seriously, and this is being reflected in a reduction in serious and fatal crashes.

"The increasing use of telematics means drivers and companies will be increasingly held accountable for crashes, so operators know it is in their interest, for both human and economic reasons, that they keep up this good work."

Do you think van drivers are less (or more) considerate than other motorists?

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