Need a van for your burgeoning business? Then there are a number of legal points you need to tick off on your list beforehand to make sure you don’t incur unnecessary fines and charges. Below you’ll find the major requirements you simply can’t afford to skimp on.
You can drive a van of 3.5 tonnes or smaller on your regular driving licence. That means anything up to a Luton van can be driven with no extra driver training required. However, the way you insure it would change. Personal van use requires nothing more than third party insurance, but commercial use means hire and reward insurance is a must. In essence this level of insurance is third party too, but it’s as expensive because commercial van use is deemed a higher risk.
As with any other type of insurance, be sure to shop around to get the best deal. And minimise the chances of collisions with other vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians – and the possibility therefore of having to make a claim – by installing safety sensors that alert you to collision risks, such as Brigade Electronics ultrasonic obstacle detection.
Find out more on vehicle insurance at CitizensAdvice.org.uk.
The way road tax for light goods vehicles (LGVs) is worked out is a little complicated. For cars, it comes down to petrol type and carbon dioxide emissions, whereas for vans and LGVs road tax is determined by engine size and its ‘Euro standard’. If it was registered before March 2001, your van or LGV will be taxed according to its engine size. After that date road tax is determined by the European category it falls under. At some point LGV road tax is likely to be brought in line with cars – that is, the greener the vehicle, the lower the tax.
Check Gov.uk to estimate the tax you ought to be paying for your van or LGV.
The Ministry of Transport test is no different whether you drive a van or car. You’re advised to get your van serviced every 10,000 miles or thereabouts, regardless of private or commercial use. Tyres and parts tend to wear more quickly on vans than cars due to the nature of their use, so it’s crucial that MOT checks are undertaken on time and by reputable mechanics.
If you drive a van for commercial purposes, it is illegal to smoke inside it. That is also the case if you happen to be driving your own car for business reasons. Since the smoking ban came into effect in 2007, it’s against the law to smoke in offices or work premises, including company vehicles. So if an employee or client happens to be in your company vehicle, you can’t smoke. By extension, your vehicle is your office. If you get caught smoking in your company vehicle by the police, you’ll get yourself an on-the-spot fine of up to £200.
While Luton vans are covered by your regular driving licence, anything larger than that requires separate certification. Small lorries or heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) can only be driven by those with the appropriate HGV licence. So you or anyone in your company who might need to drive one of these larger vehicles must take an HGV test, which costs around £200.
If driving forms a large part of your business, it could be worth considering additional driver training such as a SAFED (Safe and Fuel Efficient Driving.) This type of training, as the name suggests, encourages safe driving and could also reduce your fuel and vehicle maintenance costs.
The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency provides comprehensive information about licensing, testing and enforcement services.
Article by Patrick Vernon for Brigade Electronics