Volkswagen UK ran a survey of 500 vans and 250 fleet managers across the UK and their research suggested that up to 1.2 million vans could be overloaded. Where the numbers that responded to the survey is relatively small, the figures are reinforced by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) over a much larger scale. In 2014, 10,800 vehicles were stopped of which 89% were found to be overloaded. Where these figures may be questioned again – the DVSA and police will likely only target a vehicle if they have reason to believe there is wrongdoing – they do point to a very large number of overloaded vans on the road.
There are a number of pressures facing delivery drivers in what is a very competitive market. With fine profit margins, companies are frequently tempted to ask their drivers to take on large loads to maximise the use of the van on a particular run. This causes a number of problems for the driver:
– The van will have greater wear and tear on things such as its suspension and tyres.
– Overloading impacts on the handling of the vehicle.
– Both impact on the running costs
Where these problems are sometimes ignored in the face of commercial pressures, there are legal aspects that the fleet manager needs to consider too:
– If the van is involved in an accident and is found to be overloaded, the insurance company may refuse to pay out for any damages. This could end up costing your company thousands of pounds.
– If the driver is stopped by the police or DVSA, the driver and company can be hit with stiff penalties – for up to 10% overweight vehicles this will be £100 and up to £300 for 30% overloading. These infringements will also need to be reported to your insurer upon renewal and you may have to pay considerably more for your insurance on renewal.
Correct horses for right courses…
The solution may instead be to buy the right capacity vehicle to suit the needs of the business at peak times. This will reduce the problem of wear and tear as well as keeping the company on the right side of the authorities and insurers. Head of Service and Parts at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Trevor Hodgson – Philips suggested, “An overloaded vehicle can cause huge costs to businesses. Consistently driving with too much weight in a vehicle will put increased pressure on tyres and suspension causing them to wear out more quickly. By investing in the right size van in the first place, businesses can save thousands by avoiding unnecessary fines and repair costs.”
To help fleet and vehicle owners with the problem of overweight vehicles, VW has published a guide showing locations of public weight stations and correct loading of vans here at www.volkswagen-vans.co.uk/vehicle-overloading