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Mercedes van servicing
Vans are being driven harder on less maintenance. The FTA reckons there are 1 million unroadworthy vans on the road every day

HALF of all 3.5-tonne vans on UK roads more than three years old are unroadworthy, according to a recent survey by the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

The FTA study found the failure rate for the vans was nearly 50% on first-time MoT tests.

Nearly 50% of vans fail their first MoT

The suspicion lies that many heavy vans are run hard by SME firms on a near as 24/7 basis as possible, fully loaded, with little effort put into checking the roadworthiness of the heavy vans on the fleet.

The FTA reckons that such a high first time MOT failure rate is not acceptable, saying that it translates into 1 million unroadworthy vans on the road each day.

It’s not something that’s gone unnoticed by the Department for Transport (DfT) which is funding greater VOSA activity on light goods vehicle enforcement.

VOSA is stepping up enforcement this year, threatening that drivers and their employers will be prosecuted through the criminal justice system.

So what can SMEs do to avoid VOSA sanctions?

One route is to ensure a proper maintenance schedule that targets roadworthiness issues.

If that seems like too much hassle, another alternative for businesses is daily van hire – rent the heavy van when you need it as  a safe, flexible and cost-effective alternative to running a fleet of older vans.

Europcar managing director Ken McCall told Business Vans: “These figures from the FTA go to illustrate something that has been known within the industry for a long time – businesses are holding onto vans for longer, without having them properly maintained.

“This is a false economy for businesses at a time when costs are all important – as eventually the vans will either breakdown or fail their MoT.

“Rental provides the answer. Vans that are, on average, under nine months old and maintained to the highest standard are available at short notice, providing a flexible fleet of vehicles for usage which can actually save businesses money.”

McCall said that Europcar had recently expanded its van network: the number of van-hire locations has been increased to 172 across the UK, extending operational hours and offering a discount of 25% for overnight rentals.

The core make-up of  business vans on the Europcar fleet has also been improved.

“While it may seem counter-intuitive to some businesses to hire all or part of their van fleet rather than own, the market is changing, and owning and maintaining a costly fleet of vans is no longer the default option,” McCall said.

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