A new survey has revealed that 48% of van drivers confessed to overloading their vehicles last year, putting themselves and others at risk of accidents and fines.
The research from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles also found that 89% of respondents were aware of the light commercial vehicle (LCV) legal weight restrictions – but ignored it.
Overloading a vehicle’s gross vehicle weight by more than 30% could lead to a fine of up to £300, or even a court appearance and a prison sentence in the most severe cases.
That means the UK’s van drivers could be looking at a combined bill for fines of £703m.
Drivers most likely to overload their vans
VW also says that its survey showed that young drivers (between 18-24 years) and older drivers (over 65) were the most likely to be guilty of van overloading, with 66% and 63% respectively admitting to doing so in the past year.
Among the tradespeople, carpenters (63%), builders (60%), electricians and painter decorators, both 55% were the most prone to overloading their vans.
In the UK, an LCV’s maximum gross vehicle weight is 3,500kg – 4,250kg for a vehicle with alternative fuel, such as a battery-powered van.
‘Protect everyone from unsafe drivers and vehicles’
A spokesperson for the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) said: “DVSA’s priority is to protect everyone from unsafe drivers and vehicles.
“It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure their vehicle is safe to drive.
“They should make sure they know the maximum permitted gross vehicle weight and limits on each axle of their vehicle.”
The spokesperson added: “We take enforcement action against drivers and operators who risk people’s lives by overloading or not securely loading their vehicles.
“Our accessible online guidance provides everyone with the information they need to load their vehicle safely and avoid risking the lives of other road users.”
Purchase the correct-sized van for their business needs
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is urging van drivers to follow the DVSA’s regulations and purchase the correct-sized van for their business needs.
The company’s ‘Working with You’ promise provides customers with the ability to purchase the correct van, including the selection of the correct van across its Van Centre network of 60 sites and 30 Authorised Repairers.
The firm’s range is equipped with technology such as Tyre Pressure Monitoring System to reveal whether the tyres are correctly inflated when carrying heavy loads, along with Lane Keep Assist and Park Assist.