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WHAT comes to mind when you hear the words “white van man”? You probably think of an overly-aggressive, lane-swerving, generally selfish type.

He’s likely a self-employed tradesman who enjoys a pint at the weekend, and reads a tabloid on his lunch break. But is this stereotype still accurate or is really an unfair and outdated grudge to hold?

Just a few weeks ago, we wrote about the man who was fined £940 for driving in the middle lane of the M62 motorway – although he claimed that the police fined him simply because he was a white van man.

Judging by the response, the majority of us agreed that lane hoggers are a big problem, and I’m sure quite a few of us rolled our eyes and thought, “a white van man hogging a lane and thinking he owns the road?

What’s new?” We’re all too familiar with being cut up on a roundabout by a van and I’m sure we can all recall a time that this has happened – not fondly either.

White van man has a pretty bad reputation, then, just like the boy racer and Sunday driver

White van man has a pretty bad reputation, then, just like the boy racer and Sunday driver.

But is this accurate and are they really as inconsiderate and ignorant as we’ve come to believe? Recent research suggests that they’ve actually done quite a bit to clean up their act and are “highway heroes”, with nine out of ten saying they would stop to help someone in need. Quite a contrast to what we’ve come to expect, isn’t it?

One reason for this may be the diversity in who’s behind the wheel – it’s not just bricklayers and plumbers. We’re seeing florists, greengrocers, and even dog groomers use large vans as part of their day-to-day business operations. Another study showed that more than half of van drivers regularly read books and are much more refined than what we’ve come to expect.

Not only that, but politicians have been calling on the support from the white van man. In July, Labour leadership candidate Andy Burnham, told the Daily Mail that Labour “must reconnect with the white van man” in order to stand a chance of winning the next election.

White van drivers are switched on when it comes to politics, because their business and jobs are directly affected by decisions taken by the government, such as fuel duty costs and road tax.

It’s important not to tar everyone with the same brush. It’s true that some van drivers are inconsiderate and selfish, but perhaps the same can be said for other road users, like car drivers and cyclists. That said, the stereotype is quite ingrained so it will take a lot of work to change it! What do you think? Is the white van man stereotype a thing of the past, or has nothing actually changed? Maybe you drive a van for a living – if so, let us know your thoughts!

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