Vehicle maintenance company ATS Euromaster has questioned the safety of ‘grey fleets’ in the run up to Christmas, asking “are your last mile delivery parcels at risk?”.
The tyre specialist explained that with over four million vans on the road, ensuring the safety of each commercial vehicle is a critical task.
Jason Chamberlain, sales director from ATS Euromaster, said: “Businesses with owned branded vans will often be both exemplary in appearance and maintenance. But you also see, particularly around Christmas time, unbranded Sprinters or Transits delivering parcels for the same company to cope with the increased seasonal demand.
“Have these vans had the same checks as the branded vans? Possible, but unlikely. The further down the chain you move from owned and managed vehicles to grey fleet self-employed drivers, the more likely it is that the same level of fit for purpose scrutiny is lacking. Which can obviously be worrying, not only from a productivity point of view but also one of safety.”
Chamberlain added that duty of care extends from direct employees to those that are asked to drive on business for the company, including self-employed drivers. He expressed concern that many grey fleet vans – where an employee uses their private vehicle for business travel – are on the streets without visual safety inspections carried out before drivers get behind the wheel.
“It’s concerning for all road users,” continued Chamberlain. “From our own experience, one in three vans needs remedial work. Many of these are dotcom fleets, regularly needing to bounce up and down kerbs to make their deliveries. Now, these are properly managed fleet vans, so you can only imagine the condition that grey fleet vans may be in.”
A recent report from the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety found that per mile travelled, vans and light goods vehicles were involved in more deaths of other road users than any other vehicle type.
ATS Euromaster is calling for delivery firms to ensure that their duty of care mandate extends across their entire fleet, including self-employed grey fleet van drivers.
“Ensuring that vans are fit for purpose and are safe is paramount. We understand the pressure on deliveries that exists, particularly around the pre-Christmas period, but basic duty of care cannot, and should not, be ignored,” said Chamberlain.