Van driver fined over empty crisp packets in vehicle
A van driver has been penalised for having a plastic bag full of litter in his van. However, it's hoped that the incident will help raise awareness among commercial vehicle drivers of an important bit of documentation that they are likely to need when carrying out their business – a waste carriers' licence.
As a responsible van driver, either as a sole trader or as part of a larger fleet, it's unlikely you would drive anywhere without a proper low-cost van insurance policy in place. But comprehensive insurance isn't the only thing to sort out. For instance, if you transport, buy, sell or dispose of waste, you'll need the appropriate level of waste carriers' licence.
A roofer from Cheshunt found this out the hard way when he was pulled up by council workers who were carrying out spot checks in east London. The workers searched his van and found a plastic bag full of empty crisp packets, water bottles and sandwich containers in the back of the vehicle. The white van man was using the bag to store the empties from his lunch.
The workers from Waltham Forest Council informed the driver that he was in violation of the law by transporting waste around in his vehicle without a waste carriers licence and issued him an on-the-spot fine of £300 for "failure to furnish documentation (waste carriers licence)". The driver's attempts to appeal the fine were unsuccessful, and he was told that he would have to go to court if he refused to pay.
The driver contested the decision as unfair: "I've not fly-tipped. I've not left it in someone's garden," the driver said, adding that "it's a lot of money for one bag of rubbish".
A spokesman from the council justified the decision to impose a fine, saying, "The waste in this case was being transported in [a] commercial refuse bag in the trader's vehicle. Regardless of what the items are, if waste is being stored in a commercial refuse bag in a trader's van it is necessary that they have a valid waste carriers' licence."
The spokesman also said that even if tradesmen transport "small quantities of waste", they need to be licensed.
And while many are likely to sympathise with the driver in this case – and agree that it was perfectly reasonable for the driver to be carrying around his own rubbish as long as it was kept in a bag and he intended to dispose of it legally – this story does go to show that councils are serious about imposing the law, and no one is exempt, even if it is just a few empty lunch wrappers.
So, the question is, under what circumstances do you need a waste carriers' licence and how do you go about getting one?
Waste carriers' licences are required by all businesses that transport waste; buy, sell, or dispose of waste; or arrange for someone else to buy, sell, or dispose of waste. The licence was introduced in January 2014 in an effort to better manage businesses that transport waste and to help discourage fly-tipping, which has become a major threat to the environment.
You can head over to the Gov.UK website for more information on the different levels of licence and the appropriate fees, and to register as a waste carrier in England.
So, if you keep waste of any kind in your van, make sure you apply for your waste carriers' licence. It's one more consideration you need to make as the driver of a commercial vehicle, along with making sure you have the right low-cost van insurance for your specific circumstances.
Women Drivers Drawn by Lower Cost Van Insurance
It is a well-known fact that unless you are clear about exactly what to look for and have good practical experience of comparing the market, it is devilishly hard to find low cost van insurance.
Of course, one way to enhance your chances of finding low cost van insurance is to be discerning about the type of vehicle you drive. Statistically, smaller lower performance vans are less likely to be involved in high cost road accidents and as such tend to be cheaper to insure. So unless you have a specific need for a larger and high-performance van and want to save money on the cost of your commercial vehicle cover, it is best to choose a smaller and more modest vehicle.
You can also add security modifications such as steering wheel locks and tracking devices as these may increase your chances of finding low cost cover.
There is another way
There is another way to achieve lower cost van insurance. However, the bad news is that you may not have much choice in whether you qualify.
Firstly, you could try being older, as drivers who are over 50 tend to receive cheaper policies than younger drivers. If lucky, we will all get to be older, but we’re not sure that even if this were possible, many of us would choose to accelerate the process.
Secondly, you could try being female as women van drivers receive cheaper van insurance on average than their male counterparts. Sadly or not, we don’t all get to be female, and the desire for lower cost van insurance is unlikely to be a satisfactory or credible reason for seeking gender reassignment.
However, this second fact which may go some way to explaining why the number of female van drivers has, according to a leading comparison site, risen by 52% in the past year. The future, it seems, is white van woman, and the good news for her is that she is paying less for her van insurance.
Fleet Funding Changes Predicted
Fleet van insurance holders are in the midst of a transition in their approach to vehicle funding according to Sewells Research & Insight's Fleet Market Report 2018, which surveyed more than 600 fleets.
The researches found that nearly four in ten fleet managers intend to alter their funding method this year, with many set to abandon finance lease arrangements.
However, the five in ten fleet van insurance managers who use contract hire or hire purchase for their commercial vehicles are also looking to effect change.
The study did not examine which funding arrangements are likely to prove more popular in the near future. Ultimately, this means that the study has raised at least as many questions as it has answered.
That said, it has cast some useful light on the business environment in which fleets are currently operating. For example, two in ten fleet managers said their business had been affected by mergers and acquisitions – a 100 percent rise on the findings of the previous year's studies. Inevitably, mergers and acquisitions have an impact on the way commercial vehicle fleets are funded.
Another influencing factor on van fleet funding has been Brexit. Eight percent of fleet van insurance holders who participated in the survey said that concerns around Brexit would change the way they financed their fleets.
Interestingly, the study revealed that the managers of larger fleets were more inclined to make changes to their funding arrangements. Six in ten managers of fleets with more than 50 vehicles said they would change. Only three in ten of fleets of fewer than six vehicles said they would do the same.
There were similar levels of disparity along public-private sector lines. Seven in ten public sector fleets said they would change funding methods, compared to just over four in ten private-sector construction and manufacturing fleets and just over three in ten private-sector business service fleets.
Interestingly, the study found that although many fleet managers expressed enthusiasm for cleaner electric and hybrid vehicles in theory, in reality they had done relatively little to acquire such vehicles for their fleets. That said, three in ten fleet managers said that they expected to acquire hybrid vehicles for their fleets over the next 12 months.
"Corporate companies have a significantly greater appetite for alternative-fuel vehicles (AFVs) than SMEs, as do fleets that contract hire their cars," said the report.
New MOT Rules Stricter and More Demanding
Any driver van insurance policyholders should be aware of the implications of the new stricter MOT testing regime, which if not followed correctly could result in a serious penalty as well as the invalidation of insurance polices.
This has inevitably provoked concern among some any driver van insurance policyholders that more stringent rules could also lead to an increased number of commercial vehicles failing their MOTs.
In turn, there are fears that this could lead to a situation where there are high numbers of van drivers on the road in charge of vehicles that have failed their MOTs. Previously, the Highway Code penalty for not having a valid MOT was a maximum £1,000 fine; under the new regime, drivers can be fined up to £2,500 plus three penalty points. Last year, 35.4% of all vehicles failed their MOT.
The new, more stringent MOT test is the first in the UK to test the safety of disc brakes as well as the level of vehicle emissions. Other components of the test will check whether brake fluid is contaminated, whether tyres are underinflated, whether brake pads or warning lights are evident and whether there are any environmentally hazardous leaks. Furthermore, vehicles can be categorised into one of three defect categories: dangerous, major and minor.
However, if van drivers sign up to the Driver and Vehicle Standard Agency's (DVSA) digital ‘Get MOT Reminder' service, they can greatly improve their chances of remembering their MOT obligations by ensuring they receive regular updates in the lead-up to MOT renewal time.
It is important for van drivers to remember that the only time they are permitted to drive without a valid MOT is in the event they have booked an MOT and are driving their vehicle in for the test. However, if stopped by police they have to be able to prove this.
It is also worth bearing in mind that driving without an MOT could lead to the invalidation of an any driver van insurance policy and, in the event of an accident, could lead to the driver becoming personally liable for any costs arising from the accident, including vehicle damage and personal injury.
Van Drivers Beware Tech-Savvy Thieves
Any van driver with a keyless ignition system should beware – there has been a 100 per cent rise in the incidence of commercial vehicles being stolen without the owner’s keys.
The figures support anecdotal reports by any driver van insurance policyholders regarding the security of their vehicles, with vans frequently targeted for both the value of the vehicles themselves as well as their contents.
Tracker, a company which specialises in commercial vehicle security solutions, reports that 82 per cent of van thefts in 2017 occurred without the owner’s keys being used; the same type of theft accounted for only 44 per cent of such incidents recorded by Tracker in the previous year.
According to the firm, both criminal gangs and lone wolf operators are targeting commercial vehicles that have keyless ignition systems, apparently using technology that deceives vehicles into unlocking even without the use of the official key.
These so-called relay thefts can happen to any van driver, and although insurance policies are likely to cover losses caused by the crime, having a vehicle stolen in this way can cause inconvenience, emotional distress and rises in the cost of any driver van insurance come renewal time.
“Keyless entry technology has now been widely adopted in the LCV market, and this is evident in the fact that last year there was a two-fold increase in LCVs being stolen without the owner’s keys,” commented Tracker’s head of police liaison.
“The relatively new trend in vehicle theft termed ‘relay attack’, that allows criminals to harness more sophisticated theft techniques to overcome existing vehicle security technology, such as immobilisers and keyless entry systems, has played a significant part in this increase,” he added.
Last year footage recorded by West Midlands Police attracted the attention of van drivers. It showed a Mercedes van being stolen from outside a private residence. The ‘relay theft’ took less than a minute to complete.
Any van driver who is concerned about the possibility of having their keyless ignition system hacked by thieves should consider additional steps to secure their vehicle. For example, steering wheel and gear stick locks are both relatively inexpensive and serve as good deterrents to thieves.