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White Van Man - Fact or Fiction

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

White Van Man - Fact or Fiction

Diane Newsom
March 17, 2006

We’ve all heard about the reputation of the road hogging white van drivers. How they rally up the motorway going 100 miles an hour with no consideration for other road users. They’re rude, obnoxious and a hazard to all society. But are they as bad as their reputation makes out?

Recently the government pumped 2 million pounds into a project to hand out free driving lessons to white van drivers. Alistair Darling, the transport secretary, is putting forward funds to train 200 advance driving instructors who will offer complimentary lessons for an initial 3,500 drivers of light goods vans.

The main purpose of the lessons is to bring down the fuel consumption, as it is reported that van drivers could averagely use 59% fewer gear changes cutting their fuel consumption by 10% annually.

The term “white van man” was invented in 1997 by radio 2 presenter Sarah Kennedy, and they have been attached with an unfounded reputation of being subhuman thugs, who never signal and have no qualms about cutting up other drivers.

The government decision to offer free lessons has outraged many van drivers who claim that they don’t need them as they are just as good drivers as other motorist. The evidence backs this claim up, as it was recently revealed that van drivers actually make fewer claims against their motor insurance policy than other motorist.

This information has duly been noted by insurance companies, as UK van insurance has come down in recent times. Insurance specialists, Quoteline Direct, have set up a service which can save van drivers 69% of the cost of normal premiums. Because of the reputation of ‘white van’ drivers, it has meant that many business owners have had to pay high premiums even though they have an exemplary driving record.

The way the scheme works is that if drivers have earned bonuses on their private cars, Quoteline Direct will give them credit for their good record on the business vehicle. Also Graham Higgins from Quoteline says that a company’s reputation will also became an issue when deciding on the commercial van insurance quote. He says “If a business is well run, we’re prepared to offer lower insurance premiums,”

This new evidence about the quality of van drivers is going to lead to cheap van insurance. With the Quoteline Direct leading the way, other insurance companies will have to follow suit to maintain their share in the market.

The popularity of home delivery and online shopping has increased the amount of light vans on the road today. This has caused a surge in the every growing commercial van insurance market. With such a large market developing, it’s definitely a market that an insurance company can’t afford not to be apart of.

Some drivers feel that the governments scheme to improve the driving skills of van drivers is only going to confirm beliefs that the general public possesses about these drivers. Paul Simons from Watford said “I understand that the government wants to improve the environment, and it is in their best interest to cut fuel consumption on UK vehicles, but I don’t think this is the best way to go about it. It’s only going to confirm what the public has thought about us over the years”

Even though the scheme has had its doubters, there are some drivers who see it as a good thing. Steve Morris has been a “white van man” for twenty years and he sees the scheme as a money saving enterprise for him self. “If the government goes the right way about this, and makes these lessons lead to a qualification very similar to Pass Plus, the insurance company could use this as a reason for you to qualify for cheaper van insurance” Said Morris from Northampton.

‘Pass plus’ is a scheme where a driver can take an intensive course to improve their driving. For a cost, drivers can learn to drive at night, on dual carriageways, motorways, in town, out town, and in all weathers. The benefits, is by completing the course it will cut your car insurance by 40%. Suggestions that the same will be done with these free lessons for van drivers has been very positive.

I think it is very clear that while home delivery and Internet shopping is on the rise there will always be a need for commercial van drivers. You may have always detested them, but hopefully I’ve shredded some new light on these ‘people’ and you will agree that it is a small portion of them which have given the rest a bad name. They are part of our lives and Britain as a whole and it’s not the best idea to generalise about a whole section of people. Look on the bright side, at least their not as bad as OAP Drivers (Jest).

Diane Newsom writes for the UK search portal Usewho. Please visit us for more information on commercial van insurance.

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