Operators of small or ‘light’ goods vehicles no greater than 3.5 tonnes may be exempt from certain legal requirements such as the need to install and use tachographs or to posses an operator’s licence to carry goods as part of their business.

But they are still subject to other very important rules that must be complied with.

Sadly, goods vehicles such as vans operating under the 3.5 tonnes weight threshold have a very poor compliance record: roadside stops by police and Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) continue to identify an appallingly high incidence of dangerous overloading and vehicle defects, mainly relating to safety-critical items, namely brakes and tyres.

In part this may because there is no legal requirement to be specially licensed for commercial work, unlike operators of vehicles over 3.5 tonnes, leading to lax management and a mindset that because the vehicles being operated are small then risk is diminished.

This is not the case and poor fleet management can lead to devastating consequences for operators, drivers, work colleagues and the public.

Fleets of vans and other small commercial vehicles must be roadworthy, operate within permissible weights and speeds as well as be driven by properly licensed drivers complying with drivers hours and working time rules.

In our view operators of van fleets should manage their drivers and vehicles no differently to businesses operating under an operator’s licence, ensuring the following are in place:
  • a proper daily driver defect reporting system
  • periodic vehicle inspection regime
  • tyre and wheel security policy
  • driver licence checks and health reviews
  • speed checks and monitoring
  • systems to ensure no overloading
  • compliance with drivers hours / working time rules
  • driver training and monitoring
  • monitoring of vehicle usage e.g. through telematics / tracking
  • health & safety training
  • an audit system for all the above.

If you need further assistance to audit your existing arrangements, introduce new systems or for advice regarding a specific problem please contact us.


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