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Just when you thought it was safe to go back on the roads: Is the great white van man the most dangerous animal on the road?

The White Van Man

The ‘white van man’ has long had a poor reputation on the roads: both for road rage or shocking driving. But is the stigma fair? A new study however reveals the inherent dangers of van driving.

Research carried out by AXA Business Insurance between the years 2008 and 2012 collected some startling statistics around van drivers. Looking at 1.3 million police crash reports, they found a number of manoeuvres and situations where a van was far more likely to crash than a regular vehicle.

According to the data, a van is a whopping 142% more likely to collide with an object when reversing than a normal car. While this could be due to erratic driving in some instances, more likely it is caused by the sheer size of commercial vehicles, which makes manoeuvring problematic.

The dimensions of the vehicle can cause issues even when the engine is switched off, as it was found vans are 40% more likely to be crashed into when parked than other vehicles.

Other high risk situations included changing lanes and taking to the motorway, manoeuvres which bring a vans larger blind spot into play.

Perhaps the most worrying detail within the research is the number of accidents caused by tiredness and fatigue – two problems that affect van drivers more than other road users. Long hours spent on busy roads, tight deadlines that encourage speeding and driving without enough sleep all contribute to an increased tiredness crash-risk of 23% compared to other motorists.

Richard Owen, of Road Safety Analysis, was keen to stress the difficulties peculiar to van driving, saying: “We have to remember that while HGV drivers get rigorous additional training for driving a specialist vehicle, almost anyone can get behind the wheel of a van.

“Common manoeuvres such as changing lanes, reversing and parking are considerably more demanding in a much larger vehicle.

“We’ve all been taught to reverse a car; but in a van, visibility is restricted and the dimensions are very different.”

Darrell Sansom, managing director of AXA Business Insurance said: “Van drivers drive tired for business reasons, so the message has to be business based: ultimately, it doesn’t pay.”

(Image courtesy of digitalart/ 


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