Keeping up with industry news is important so reading Commercial Motor and Motor Transport every week is important. And last week a startling statistic leapt out.
According to VOSA figures, 93% of the vans they weighed were found to be overloaded.
From our experience with customers we know that many light commercial vehicles are overloaded. But that figure of 93% took even us by surprise. But having thought about it for a day or so, it's probably not surprising at all.
When we started to think about some of the customers we had dealt with and what they were trying to do it becomes a less surprising statistic. And there are a number of reasons for it.
One of the most common reasons for vans running overloaded is that companies are now trying to do with a 3.5t van what they used to do with a 7.5t truck. Why? Avoiding tachograph regulations, paying for a 'professional driver', no need for a transport manager and all the other legislative hoops that need to be jumped through when running bigger vehicles.
One of our major customers had an interesting problem. Their load was changing through the day with the vehicle often getting heavier not lighter. They were delivering electrical goods and due to the rising number of collections for recycling, the drivers would frequently unload a nice shiny new light flat screen television but pick up an old and much heavier model. As the day went on, the load got heavier not lighter. They fitted the whole fleet with our OnBoard Load Indicators to prevent overloading.
|Not overloaded as it's been weighed on an axle weighbridge.|
Another common scenario is a lack of advice from bodybuilders. We know of many instances where the customer has asked for a crewcab, a tailift, a crane, a tool box etc etc and yet gets no feedback from the bodybuilder about how much payload is being use up. Only last week we went to install an OnBoard Load Indicator on a 3.5t crewcab in Irvine. With only our engineer in the cab, the vehicle weighed 3.4t and would be well overloaded as soon as the crew got in and seriously overloaded with all their gear in the back too.
It works the other way though. We went to see a customer a while back who had a TV outside broadcast van. The vehicle looked to be down on the back axle and we were convinced it was overloaded. But when we weighed it, we found that both axles and gross were just within legal limits.
Vans are a great tool but they are notorious for being overloaded. and they're dangerous when they are too. Whilst doing some research we loaded one of our own 3.5 tonners up to maximum and were concerned at how dangerous it was to drive. The steering became very light and the whole vehicle was very unwealdy.
Overloading affects the brakes, steering, clutch, suspension and just about every major component on the vehicle. With insurance companies taking a dim view of vans that are overloaded being involved in accidents, not making sure they are within their legal weight limits could prove very expensive.