Story: COLIN DAWSON
It’s not going to help dispel the negative image generally held of the ‘white van man’, but van drivers rack up more than twice as many driving convictions and six times as many mobile phone offences as car drivers, according to new research.
The study, based on small business van owners and car drivers whose vehicles are covered through AA Insurance, showed that for all convictions, 15.5% of van drivers have had their driving license endorsed within the past five years, compared with only 7.4% of car drivers.
And there is a marked difference between van and car drivers when it comes to mobile phone convictions, with 2.4% of van drivers having collected a CU80 offence – using a hand-held mobile phone or similar device while driving a motor vehicle – compared with only 0.4% of car drivers.
“The significantly higher number of van drivers’ offences is astonishing but is perhaps down to the pressure to get between jobs and keep customers informed,” Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, told Business Vans. “They’re clearly getting stung for it,” he said. “Not just fines and the risk of losing their licence, but with increased insurance premiums, too.”
But company van drivers aren’t alone when it comes to misuse of mobiles behind the wheel. In a recent study of AA members 42% of respondents admitted they had used a hand-held mobile device for phoning, texting or tweeting.
This offence carries a £60 fine and three penalty points, the same as a SP30 speeding offence. But it could lead to a more serious conviction for careless or dangerous driving if a police officer believes you were not in proper control of your vehicle.
Regionally, van drivers in the South East are most likely to have picked up a motoring conviction with one in six (17.4%) having done so within the past five years, compared with 7.3% of car drivers in the region.
Van drivers in Scotland (3.4%) and Greater London (3.2%) are most likely to have been stopped by police and convicted of using a hand-held mobile device while driving, compared with 0.5% of car drivers in both regions.
Van drivers in the South West are least likely to have picked up any motoring conviction (14%) or for using a mobile phone (1%). Of car drivers, those in the North West (8.2%) are most likely to have an endorsement on their license.
“The greater number of mobile phone convictions in London is probably because police are more likely to have witnessed offenders, who may make calls while stuck in traffic,” Douglas explained. “After all, technically you are still driving, even if you are waiting for the lights to change.”
Anecdotally, statistics from insurers suggest that using a mobile phone doubles the risk of being involved in a collision, Douglas says. “You might accidentally drift over a speed limit. No one accidentally uses a mobile phone or sends a text.”
AA Insurance research shows that, on average, offenders can expect their insurance premium to increase by 9.3% for a single speeding offence and 18.5% if they have been convicted of using a hand-held phone.
“Insurance premiums reflect motoring offences for at least three years and for repeat offenders, up to five years, costing business van drivers up to four times more than the original £60 fine,” Douglas said.
Keep up to date with developments in our Business Van News section.