4x4 Offroading ›› Vans ›› Fleet Management

Running a Fleet of Vans

Goods vehicle operators use the term 'fleet' to define how many vehicles they are operating through the business - usually at least fifteen (15) or ten (10+) bought in a single tax year.

This section explains the rules for running a fleet of vans and how the regulations apply in England, Scotland, and Wales.

Prohibitions given to Light Goods Vehicles

Last time we checked, close to four million vans were being used for business across the United Kingdom.

The authority for carrying out roadside spot checks on vans rests with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and the police.

A prohibition - when issued - will prevent drivers from driving until the stated problem with the vehicle has been fixed.

So now, you may be wondering how many targeted roadside checks are there on vans each year? In fact, most years the DVSA will stop and check more than 15,000 light goods vehicles (LGVs).

Furthermore, prohibitions issued by the DVSA very often cost vehicle owners and operators up to £4,000 per day (for each vehicle stopped).

Note: Another section explains HMRC commercial vehicle definition and what factors they use when determining the treatment for taxation.

Common Reasons for Van Prohibition

During targeted checks (usually at the side of the road), the percentage of light goods vehicles with issues that resulted in a prohibition are as follows (2013 to 2014).

Top Mechanical Defects for Light Goods Vehicles

The top three mechanical defects for light goods vehicles that resulted in a prohibition (2013 to 2014).

Basics for Operating Van Fleets

Generally, the United Kingdom refers to vans differently than many areas on the continent. But, for the purpose of managing a fleet of vans, they will be (either):

Goods Vehicle Operators

If you are running a business that uses goods vehicles above a certain weight, you will need to have a valid goods vehicle operator's licence.

The licence will allow you to carry cargo (goods) in a lorry, van, or any other vehicle that has (either):

Vehicle Condition and Taxation

One of the responsibilities of operating a fleet of vans in England, Scotland, or Wales is taxing them and keeping them in a roadworthy condition.

Which Vans Need an MOT?

Vans that will need an MOT are those with a design gross weight of up to 3,500kg. They should get tested every year after the vehicle reaches three (3) years old. The van classification for MOT is (either):

Which Vans Need a Goods Vehicle Annual Test?

Are you operating any van with a design gross weight of over 3,500 kilograms? If so, it will need to have a goods vehicle annual test twelve (12) months after it was first registered with DVLA - and then annually.

Note: Another section explains the best way to clean inside a car or van with tips for restoring shabby trim and fittings inside the cabin.

Are You Using or Employing Drivers?

If you employ (or use the services of) drivers to drive your fleet vehicles, you must ensure they have the correct licence for the role as well as any specialised training needed.

UK rules for operating a fleet of vans: Regulations for fleet management in England.In short, all employers of van drivers must:

DVSA suggests van drivers take a forty five (45) minute rest after every four and a half hours of driving (as per the EU drivers' hours rules).

Drivers and their employers need to follow strict rules on driving hours, such as by using a tachograph to record time, speed, and distance travelled.

Important: Drivers will find more information in our driving a van guide including drivers' hours regulations and the rules on speed limits.

Van Weight Limits and Loading

Any time you are loading your van with goods, you must take any necessary steps not to overload the 'design gross weight'.

In simple terms, it reflects the maximum weight a van can weigh when loaded (also called the 'laden weight' or 'gross vehicle weight' in the United Kingdom).

You will find a van's weight limit stamped on the vehicle identification number (VIN) plate. The definition is the total combined weight of (all):

Running a Fleet of Vans Checklist

This van operator checklist can help managers make a fleet of vehicles roadworthy and compliant. When checking and repairing a fleet of vans, you should:

Anyone with the responsibility of maintaining a fleet of vans should be (all):

As part of an effective maintenance system, van operators should be keeping proper records of the following for a minimum of fifteen (15) months:

It is also important for van fleet operators in the United Kingdom to use suitable vans (e.g. an appropriate size, loading capability, and carrying the right equipment for the job). You should also:

Note: Another section explains how to carry out safety checks before towing a trailer, with detailed information about load balancing and weight limits.

Managing Costs and Risks

There are several basic ways that business operators can help to manage the risk and cost of running a fleet of vans, including:

Checking Driver ID and Licences

When checking the driver licences of people who will be driving your vans, and verifying their identification, you should (all apply):

Checking and Improving Driver Ability

Whenever you check your drivers' ability, and offer them ways to make improvements, you should be:

Making Sure Your Drivers Understand the Rules

Running a fleet of vans means you should check that your drivers know (and can understand) the motoring rules that they need to follow, including:

Related Information and Help Guides

Note: Since the 21st of May 2022, all businesses and sole traders need to have a goods vehicle operator licence and a transport manager to transport goods in vans in Europe. You can read further guidance about transporting goods in Europe in vans, cars, and trailers on the GOV.UK website.

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