Vans & Plans: The RHA’s campaigning for the van sector
Written by Rod McKenzie, RHA managing director, for May’s Roadway Magazine.
There’s so much going on in the world of heavy freight – what with driver shortages, green issues and city charging – I’m sometimes asked why the RHA is offering van membership.
The answer comes in two parts. Firstly, as with our coach membership offering, we’re is all about transport, big or small, people or pallets. Logistics is facing a whole range of issues which threaten the existence of some of our members.
We should be in the game to help.
Secondly, the UK’s van fleet is facing some unprecedented challenges and many of them are very similar to our larger lorry and coach cousins.
Vans are a core part of the freight industry: they need to be properly regulated. RHA membership is about standards and safety. All RHA members, be they coach, van or HGV operators share the same values: compliance, fair competition and high standards of operation.
If one sector in general needed more of that right now, it’s vans.
There’s a big change coming, too, with O Licensing required for all vans carrying goods for hire and reward internationally from May 2022, under the terms of the Brexit deal. This would require operators to have a Transport Manager, with full CPC and a range of other things including O Licensing fees, repute and financial standing.
So that’s the international picture. But shouldn’t the UK’s own domestic hire and reward fleet – currently lightly regulated – up it’s game, too?
We think there is a case, barring own account operators, for hire and reward vans to be operator licensed. This would bring them in scope of compliance and enforcement of road rules and safety requirements. A named person who is the equivalent of a transport manager in a haulage company would be good. We’d also like to see annual testing for all vans, class 4 & class 7 from new – instead of the 3 year barrier currently in force.
Mandatory walk round checks will help formalise improved professionalism and safety culture. Some sort of tachograph system will also ensure that van drivers don’t work dangerously long hours – there is a suspicion many currently are doing so. This is a subject that members raise time and time again, as a source of concern for health and safety and road safety reasons that are obvious to see.
It’s time therefore to welcome vans into the RHA family, with the aim of ensuring best practice and safer operating. Supported by RHA Training and the Helpdesk and Area Manager system as backup to make sure compliance is less of a hurdle.
The RHA badge is all about the very best safety and standards and we want to help the van industry step up.
This article was originally written for the award-winning Roadway magazine, the official magazine of the RHA.