Vehicle manufacturers should use ESP technology to install load weight indicators inside van cabins to ensure drivers do not exceed legal payload capacities, according to Adrian Wanford, group transport manager for Infrastructure services giant Balfour Beatty.
He said the indicators could form part of the dashboard display alongside increasingly common safety features such as lane keeping alerts, automatic headlight controls and adaptive braking assistance. Wanford claimed if one manufacturer took the lead in introducing load weight indicators others would quickly follow.
Balfour Beatty used the FTA’s Van Excellence Conference to warn operators about the dangers of overloading their vans.
Wanford said: “70% of vans are used as mobile sheds or toolboxes, there is a weight infringement danger.”
He said exceeding an LCV’s payload capacity has a negative impact on its brakes and driving behaviour but claimed many operators do not deal with the issue of overloading.
Balfour Beatty runs a fleet of 3729 LCVs, split roughly 50/50 between 3.5-tonners and lighter vans. Most of these vehicles are under contract hire and Wanford admitted there was a risk of overloading because it is not practical to install weigh bridges at small sites, such as farmyards. He added that lots of jobs are reactive, leading traders to fill their vans with “just in case items” that they hardly ever use.
“People hoard things and van drivers do the same,” said Wanford.
In 2010 Balfour Beatty bought 10 portable weigh bridges at a cost of £10,000 each and has since carried out more than 4200 spot weight checks. Wanford said incidences of overloading had since dropped from 40% to 2%. The firm has helped to keep its fleet compliant with weight limits through introducing driver training, van tool inventories and installing tool stores at job sites.
According to Wanford it’s a question of housekeeping. As he said: “A tidy van is a compliant van.”