The aim of the campaign is to also keep road users and van drivers safe.
The SMMT has been prompted into action after revelations that the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) stopped 10,800 vans last year and found nearly two-thirds had a serious mechanical defect.
More worryingly, nine out of 10 of these vehicles were overloaded.
The SMMT says that of the vehicles stopped, nearly half were posing a serious road safety risk and were immediately taken off the road.
New SMMT campaign to improve van driver safety
The organisation also reveals that 50% of vans fail their MOT test the first time – compared with 22% of HGVs whose owners are bound by strict licensing rules.
In addition to highlighting the safety implications, the SMMT campaign is also raising the issue of owners avoiding fines and having the industry having more legislation being imposed upon it.
Any goods vehicle that weighs less than 3.5 tonnes is currently exempt from the costly Operator Licensing regime which those who have heavier vehicles have to comply with.
There is now a guide for van safety which has been published on the SMMT website.
SMMT: vans are crucial to the UK’s economy
The chief executive of the SMMT, Mike Hawes, said: “There are 3.2 million vans in Britain to enable the smooth running of the economy but their safety record is a concern.
“Vans are racking up big distances and have to ensure significant wear and tear so regular servicing is essential.
“Our new campaign is promoting maintenance so that businesses can take the steps necessary to ensure their vehicles are safe and protect their drivers and road users without being fined or the imposition of further regulations.”