Pendragon Vehicle Management are an accredited partner of the Freight Transport Association’s Van Excellence initiative. We recently spoke to Mark Cartwright, Head of Vans at the FTA, to tell us more about Van Excellence.

1) What is Van Excellence for those who don’t know anything about it?

Run by the Freight Transport Association (FTA), Van Excellence is an industry-led scheme to promote the safe operation of vans, represent the interests of the sector, and celebrate operators demonstrating excellent standards. Van drivers are vital to the UK economy; van use has grown to become a substantial and integral part of the freight industry. As the number of vans on our streets continues to increase, all road users benefit from improved driving standards and maintenance.

Central to the scheme is the Van Excellence Code, a set of minimum best practice standards all van operators should aspire to achieve. Operators reaching this standard can apply for certification from the Van Excellence Operator Accreditation Scheme – following a satisfactory audit – to publicly showcase their commitment to safety, efficiency and sustainability. Additional scheme benefits include access to training courses, the Guide to Van Excellence and operational briefing events.

2) How have you seen Van Fleets accredited with Van Excellence improve?

Van fleets accredited by the Van Excellence Operator Accreditation Scheme have continued on their path to perfection, and many are, in fact, leading the industry in safety and efficiency. Three of our accredited partners – Freedom Group, Skanska and Alphabet – won their categories in the Fleet News Awards 2018, and a further three achieved “highly commended”. By providing ongoing support and guidance, the scheme helps its members to achieve consistent excellence, as well as signalling to the wider industry their commitment to high standards.

3) You recently held the Van Driver and Young Driver of the Year competition. How was that?

The Van Excellence Van Driver of the Year competition is the highlight of my calendar each year. Van drivers are the backbone of the UK economy and it’s an honour to have a platform to recognise and reward these hard-working individuals. The competition showcases the skill, patience, dedication and technical expertise required to excel in this field, and each of the 20 finalists were the embodiment of the scheme’s aspirations. The winners of Van Driver of the Year and Young Van Driver of the Year –Stephen Hudson and Luke Birchnall respectively – showed a real commitment to safety, efficiency, environmental considerations, as well as expert knowledge and skill.

4) What are three implications of poor van fleet management?

The consequences of poor van fleet management can be severe and include threats to safety, finance and even freedom.

As the van sector continues to grow rapidly, it garners much attention from legislators and enforcement authorities, as well as the public. Companies and individuals have legal responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and anyone found in breach could face fines – these could reach millions of pounds as the penalty depends on turnover – or even a custodial sentence. By joining the Van Excellence Scheme and achieving accreditation, drivers and operators are less likely to been involved in a collision or other incident, saving money as well as life and limb.

5) What is the number one thing all van fleets can do better?

Drivers should thoroughly check their vehicles before they leave base every day. While there’s no legal requirement to do so, the importance of pre-use checks cannot be underestimated. By taking a few minutes to check their vehicle – including tyres, lights, steering, brakes and mirrors – drivers can spot any obvious defects before it’s too late. See my blog for more detail on this. Membership of the scheme can help employers and employees put compliance processes in place and share best practice.

6) What’s the single most important takeaway from our discussion?

Safety must be the number one priority. By following the guidelines set out in the Van Excellence Code, and seeking FTA accreditation where appropriate, all those working in the van sector can raise their safety and compliance standards.

Summary

For further information on the Van Excellence Scheme, including how to join, please visit www.vanexcellence.co.uk

Efficient logistics is vital to keep Britain trading, directly having an impact on more than seven million people employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. A champion and challenger, FTA speaks to Government with one voice on behalf of the whole sector, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers.

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