Speed limits for vans – are the DfT even more confused than the rest of us?

For many years there’s been confusion among some van drivers over the speed limits that apply to their vans. This has led to many prosecutions of drivers of medium and large vans for exceeding the speed limit.

Many van drivers just assume that the speed limits for their vans are the same as for a private car. In many cases, particularly for smaller vans, they may be right, but for anything bigger than a small van they’re wrong.

The maximum speed limits for all goods vehicles of 3500kg and less, unless lower limits are indicated by signs, is 70mph for motorways, 60mph for dual-carriageways and 50mph for single-carriageway roads. The only exemption is for ‘car-derived vans’ with a maximum loaded weight (GVW) of 2000kg or less, to which the speed limits for cars apply (70, 70, 60).

For many years it seems that the police have interpreted ‘car-derived van’ as meaning any small van with a GVW of 2,000kg or less. This would include many of the vans typically driven by same day couriers, vans like the Escort, Courier, Berlingo/Partner, some Doblos, Combo, Nemo/Bipper/Fiorino, Kangoo, as well as some of the more obvious ‘car shaped’ vans like the Astravan, Fiesta, Corsa and Punto.

In December 2007 the Department for Transport (DfT) issued a document Read More…

Posted under Courier Basics, Speeding, Vans

Posted by Alec at 7:48 pm, October 4, 2008

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Apparently this is the perfect time to buy or lease a new van

According to this report van prices have dropped by 9% in the last three months and dealers are now offering attractive low rate finance deals.

The article quotes Duncan Coleman of vansunited.co.uk as saying “We’ve not only seen retailers and manufacturers reduce their new and used prices, but they’ve applied finance offers to LCVs that were once the preserve of the car market. Now is the perfect time to buy for those businesses wanting to secure a strong deal.”

I suppose if you’re set on buying a new van in the next year or so then now might be the time to do it, but I’d question whether this is really the perfect time to buy.

While the last six weeks or so have been encouragingly busy for many same day couriers there’s no certainty about the future at all. Whether we’re on the brink of a cataclysmic recession or not it’s clear that many companies aren’t in a position to last the next few months, never mind considering investment in new vehicles.

There are many bargains to be had at auctions at the moment, nearly new vans Read More…

Posted under Fuel Prices, Vans

Posted by Alec at 6:15 pm, September 9, 2008

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Electric Vans and Trucks for Couriers

This article Benefits of electric vans now outweigh concerns has caused some chatter over the weekend, with various claims that ‘courier companies’ will soon start opting for electric vans as a matter of course.

These claims seem to be based on recent decisions by the likes of TNT to make ‘significant’ purchases of vehicles from Smith Electric Vehicles www.smithelectricvehicles.com. While this is an encouraging step forward I think that TNT’s claim to be running “world’s largest zero emissions fleet” needs to be put in perspective. By November 2009 TNT will have acquired 150 7.5-tonne electric vehicles for use in the UK, that’s much less than 10% of their fleet – without taking into consideration the thousands Read More…

Posted under Vans

Posted by Alec at 11:36 am, August 4, 2008

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VOSA using ANPR technology to target overloaded vehicles

This really is old news now but it’s surprising how many commercial vehicle drivers, particularly same day couriers and other drivers of vans below 3500kg GVW, aren’t aware of this system and how much it affects their chances of being caught if they take a risk and overload their vehicle.

The system, known as VIPER, involves weight sensors actually embedded within the road surface (known as WIMS – Weigh-In Motion System) which measure the weight of each axle going over them to within 5% accuracy. The vehicle details are checked using ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) and the VOSA operative in front of his computer immediately takes the decision whether to request that the vehicle’s stopped and brought in for accurate weighing at the VOSA weighbridge.

During the trials of the system from June 2004 to December 2005 VOSA reported a 700% improvement in the accuracy of their vehicle stops for suspected overloading. Out of Read More…

Posted under Courier Basics, Legal Issues, Vans, Weight Limits for Vans

Posted by Alec at 2:09 pm, July 26, 2008

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Do I Need a Licence to be a Courier

I was checking the search engine referral statistics for the Courier Info site and noticed that it seems to be getting quite a few hits from people searching Google using phrases like “do I need a courier licence” or “do I need a licence to be a courier” which bring up the page Do I need an Operator’s Licence? as the first result.

So – Do I Need a Licence to be a Courier?

In the UK there are is no special licence required to operate as a courier. You’ll need a full driving licence of course if you want to drive a van, car or motorbike. You could ride a motor bike on a provisional licence but you’d be limited to 125cc bikes which are of very limited use in the courier industry; you’ll also struggle to get proper courier insurance on a provisional licence.

Your normal full driving licence will allow you to drive vans up to Read More…

Posted under Courier Basics, Insurance for Couriers, Vans

Posted by Alec at 2:35 pm, July 20, 2008

Courier tips for cutting fuel costs

Plan your route. Don’t just rely on your Satnav; sometimes there’s a much more direct, shorter and quicker route if you just glance at your map.

Avoid buying fuel (or anything) at motorway services. If you’re caught short for fuel (or anything else) try Cheap Fuel Near Motorway Junctions for conveniently positioned fuel and supermarket sites.

Check your tyre pressures regularly. You’re meant to do this every day for the sake of safety of course. You’re normally meant to increase your tyre pressures slightly when carrying heavy loads and when driving at motorway speeds for long periods. Check your van’s handbook for the manufacturer’s recommendations. Think how much harder it is to pedal a bike with flat tyres than with well inflated tyres.

Close your windows on the motorway. Apparently an open window at 70mph can increase your fuel consumption by nearly 10%.

Drive smoothly. Change up early, don’t race away from the lights in low gears, read the road ahead of you and try to avoid coming to a stop. Keeping the van moving slowly is far more economical than stop-start driving.

Lose weight. Every bit of extra weight you carry around with you is costing you money. Even carrying a 25 litre jerry can of fuel with you can increase your fuel consumption by 1%. How much of the rubbish you carry around in your van do you really need?

Slow down. Cruising at 80mph rather than 70mph will gain you less than Read More…

Posted under Courier Basics, Vans

Posted by Alec at 10:01 pm, July 10, 2008

Driver CPC – what is it and why would I need it?

The Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (or Driver CPC) is a new scheme brought in under the requirements of an EU Directive 2003/59. It will eventually apply to all drivers of Large Goods Vehicles (LGV) and Passenger Carrying Vehicles (PCV).

The Driver CPC is in no way connected with the Operator’s CPC required by Transport Managers etc to become an O Licence holder.

This is guidance for the Driver CPC as it applies to GOODS VEHICLE DRIVERS ONLY. The rules for PCV drivers will be implemented on earlier dates.

The requirement to hold a valid Driver CPC will eventually apply to all drivers of goods vehicles over 3500 kg GVW – so all drivers driving vehicles that require C1, C1+E, C or C+E licences.

All new drivers passing their tests to driver vehicles over 3500 kg after 10th September 2009 will have to obtain an initial Driver CPC qualification in addition to passing the appropriate driving test. The Driver CPC will need to be renewed every 5 years by completing a 35 hour course.

Drivers who have already have C1, C1+E, C or C+E licences before 10th September 2009 will not have to obtain an initial Driver CPC qualification but will still have to undertake 35 hours of training to renew their periodic Driver CPC by September 2014 and every 5 years after that.

Drivers of vehicles driven under B+E licences (van and trailer combinations) do not require a Driver CPC irrespective of the Gross Train Weight

Posted under Legal Issues, Towing, Vans

Posted by Alec at 1:22 pm, July 7, 2008

White Van Man Fuel Protest

You’ll never get the 25p rebate in a van. There’d be no sensible way of calculating it without tachos and if it applies to us it would have to apply to every computer engineer, florist, pizza man, builder etc.

There’s a VERY slim chance that the truckers will get their rebate (which will be bad news for us) but I can’t see that there’s any chance whatsoever that it would be extended to van operators.

The government are even refusing ‘essential user rebates’ to the Police, the NHS, the Fire Service and local authorities. That will result in a budget deficit for these genuinely ‘essential users’ and huge council tax increases for us next year – more importantly though, if the NHS aren’t getting a rebate for shifting sick people to A&E are we likely to get one for shifting some worthless junk around the country?


Posted under Protests & Strikes, Vans

Posted by Alec at 8:48 pm, July 3, 2008