More rules ‘not the way to improve van standards’

16th June 2016

The FTA has called for better enforcement of rules for van operators

Effective enforcement of existing legislation, rather than more rules, is the way to improve standards among van operators, according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

The industry body outlined its position on this issue after the European Commission yesterday released the first of three consultations on possible changes to operator licensing.

These proposals raise questions about how two important pieces of transport legislation work and potential options for changing them.

The FTA argued that existing laws are sufficient to ensure acceptable standards among van operators, with rules already in place regarding roadworthiness, overloading, driver licensing and insurance.

James Firth, head of licensing policy and compliance information at the industry body, said the problem stems from the lack of enforcement of this legislation.

"Introducing new laws when there's no enforcement simply means those who play by the rules are stuck with more costs while the cowboys carry on doing what they think they can get away with," he added.

The FTA has been working to improve standards through an accreditation programme, which has signed up over 100 members including major businesses like BT, Asda and Kwik-Fit.

Called Van Excellence, the scheme shares examples of best practice, drives up compliance standards and represents the interests of the van industry.

"The operators who are Van Excellence members maintain their vans properly, run safe fleets and train their staff effectively – this shows that more rules are not the answer," said Mr Firth.

Issues being explored in the European Commission consultation include the efficacy of current rules for tackling 'letterbox companies' – businesses established in low-cost countries that operate in a higher-cost economy, but continue to pay drivers at the lower level.