Concerns have been raised about van driver safety after Department of Transport data revealed road traffic has risen to 83 per cent of pre-lockdown levels.
It is estimated demand for home delivery has increased by 100% due to Covid-19 as online sales have become a lifeline for small businesses.
According to driver risk management consultant, Adrian Hide, the sudden demand has led to an influx of car drivers becoming van drivers – with no basic training.
He said: “As customer demand for home delivery has increased, particularly among restaurants and retail businesses, companies are under more pressure than ever to fulfil orders.
“In my experience many drivers think because they have a car license they are all set to drive a van, but that’s just not the case. The handling characteristics are different in a van and it’s easy to overload it.
“Also an amazing number of van drivers have forgotten the basic speed limit rules.
“For example, on a public road the national speed limit for vans on a single carriageway is 50mph.”
In response to this influx of new van drivers Adrian has launched an entirely online ‘Safer Van Driving’ course which takes around 90 minutes to complete, but being modular means you can progress at your own pace, dipping in and out until the course is completed. The course covers everything from pre-drive safety checks to defensive driving techniques.
Adrian added: “I designed the course for first-time van drivers or those who have not had any formal van driver training, with the aim of covering all the essential elements of driving a van.
“While the recent prosecution of Renown Consultants, where two employees were killed in a works van, did not attract a charge of corporate manslaughter, they did receive a fine of £750,000 based on a percentage of their turnover.
“What company has that amount of money as a slush fund?
“Aside from the immense reputational impact it has on a business, your staff are your most valuable asset and driving is one of the most dangerous things you can ask them to do.
“Employers have a legal duty of care to their drivers and must ensure their delivery schedules are realistic, their vehicles are legal, and their drivers are trained so they stay safe and within the law.
“This is why providing van driver training is vital to protect your business, its brand, its reputation and your people’s safety.”
Other benefits to businesses who can demonstrate their employees have completed a van driver safety course include cost savings through increased fuel efficiency and in many cases, reduced insurance premiums.
For information about van driver safety and online training options for your workforce call Adrian Hide on 07973 337251 or go to www.adrianhideconsultancy.co.uk/e-learning/