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In the UK there are now laws against smoking in vans that are used for work activities. Different parts of the UK have different regulations with Scotland being the first country in the Union to enforce these restrictions. With each part of the UK having subtle differences when it comes to smoking in work vans it is important to understand these, it could cost you or your company a fair bit.

 

Making Sure You’re Fully Compliant

 

Whether you drive an HGV a Transit or a small car and it is used for work purposes you are in danger of breaking the law if you choose to smoke in these vehicles. Your vehicle should also have a no-smoking sign on display within each compartment that a person can sit. This sign needs to have a minimum size of 75mm in diameter and clearly indicate that the vehicle is not to be smoked in. The ashtray should be removed if there is one and a smoke-free policy introduced to the staff. Vehicles conforming to these standards will be compliant no matter what area of the UK they are driving in.

 

When Can You Smoke in a Company Vehicle?

 

There are a couple of exceptions to the law that would allow a work vehicle to be smoked in, but they are quite vague and can be a little in the grey area of when it comes to proof and responsibility. It would be up to you or your company to prove that the vehicle falls into these exceptions.

 

A company car used solely by one employee is an exception only if the driver never has to pick up any employees to go to meetings or the car is used by another employee if the main driver of the car is on holiday or off sick for the day. Blatantly speaking the car can only be driven by one employee.

 

A privately owned car used occasionally for company business is also exempt from the regulations – occasionally is the keyword here and like mentioned above it is up to the company to prove the car is only used occasionally.

 

A vehicle which has a roof that can be removed will not have to be smoke-free when the roof is completely stowed or removed.

 

Variations Between England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland

 

In England, the no-smoking signs are required to have the no-smoking symbol at least 70mm in diameter. In Wales and Northern Ireland, the requirement is for a minimum 75mm diameter symbol. Scotland has no minimum signage requirement.

 

Scotland – In Scotland a slightly differing view with regards to company cars. The Scottish Executive has advised that if you use a car, your own or a company car, for business purposes, it will be exempt unless it is a private hire car. This includes situations when the vehicle is used by more than one person.

 

Penalties

 

The penalty for not displaying a sign is a fixed-penalty notice of £200 reduced to £150 if paid within 15 days. If the fine is not paid and you are convicted in court the maximum fine is £1000.

 

Individuals caught breaking the law can be issued with a fixed penalty notice of £50 reduced to £30 if paid within 15 days or a maximum fine of £200 on conviction.

 

Companies have a duty to prevent smoking in vehicles classed as smoke-free. The penalty for this is a maximum fine of £2500 on conviction. Compliance requires that reasonable steps are taken by a company to enforce the rules.

 

Conclusion

 

Following the advice above should ensure company vehicles are compliant throughout the UK saving both companies and employees from falling foul of the regulations regarding smoking in business vehicles across the United Kingdom. You can check the most recent legislation by visiting https://www.gov.uk/smoking-at-work-the-law

There are benefits and drawbacks to leasing a van, but the same can be said for purchasing. In this article, we’ll be shedding some light on the pros and cons of van leasing vs. buying so you can make an informed choice as to which is best for you.

Buying New or Used?

If you’re lucky enough to have bought a new vehicle before, you’ll understand how it feels to sit in the cabin, turn the key and drive away in it for the first time – there’s nothing quite like it and you’ll be left grinning for weeks. Buying gives you an asset and a new vehicle(s) can improve your company image too, which may be important depending on your industry. The unfortunate news is that new vans are expensive and they need to be paid for up front; whether that’s from your own (or business) funds, or by some kind of finance agreement. This is when buying used can seem like an appealing alternative and you could save quite a bit of money up front, but by doing so comes with additional risk. The used van market’s a bit of a minefield and you could be left pulling your hair out soon after closing that deal that really was too good to be true!

Take into Account the Overall Costs

The first thing you should do when considering buying a new vehicle or leasing a van is compare the overall costs between the options you have. If you’re buying a van outright, this means calculating how much the vehicle is likely to depreciate by in the time you own it, the maintenance and servicing costs, insurance, fuel, roadside assistance etc. Leasing a van only includes the costs associated with the vehicle for the length of the lease which is covered by your monthly payments, fuel and insurance. Like any new vehicle, you’ll still be covered by manufacturer warranties and any other cover they provide in the same way you would if you purchased a new van. Bundling together a number of different packages with your van can be arranged by a contract hire agreement – make one fixed payment each month that includes all the additional cover you choose.

Why Not Both? Lease Purchasing

If you’re torn between leasing a van and buying one you could benefit from the best of both by lease purchasing a van. A lease purchase begins just like a normal lease, but at the end of it you purchase the van and keep it as your own. By doing this you can keep your monthly payments low and treat the vehicle as your own with no mileage restrictions. You might even be able to afford a better vehicle or a higher spec model than you could afford if you didn’t lease purchase.

At the end of the day there isn’t an option that will be best for everyone as it all comes down to personal circumstances. If you’re still unsure about which finance option is best for you, or you’d like to discuss your possibilities with an expert, get in touch and we can point you in the right direction.

The term light commercial vehicle or LCV is used to describe any commercial vehicle up to a gross weight of 3.5 tonnes. Anything with a gross weight over 3.5 tonnes is classed as a heavy goods vehicle.

Knowing your Limits

If you are driving a light commercial vehicle for your business, it pays to know the facts and restrictions. You will probably already be aware that even the strongest of models can struggle with heavy loads. This isn’t just a practical issue though; it’s a legal one. Both the police and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) take an overloaded van very seriously. In fact; according to RAC in 2015 89% of vans stopped by DVSA were overloaded and with the cost of your van being off the road on average £700.00 per day, can you really afford to risk it?

Every vehicle on the road has what is known as a plated weight and it is illegal to exceed this plated weight limit. The authorities have the power to stop, weigh, and restrict any vehicle on a UK road. This means that if your van is found to be overweight you could find yourself being faced with either a fixed penalty or a court summons and this is in addition to the inconvenience of not being able to continue your journey until your vehicle is within the legal weight limit. The fixed penalty amount depends on how much the vehicle has gone over the legal limit. 5% to 10% over the limit will result in a £100 fine, 10% to 15% will be a £200 fine and 15% to 30% will result in a £300 fine. Over 30% will result in a court summons and if the vehicle is overloaded to the point where it is a hazard to other road users, the driver can be charged with dangerous driving and the offence may carry a prison sentence.

What Does Gross Vehicle Weight (GVM) Mean?

All vans are assigned a gross vehicle weight (GVW) limit when they are certified for use. It is a legal requirement for all LCVs to display their gross vehicle weight on the manufacturer’s plate. The plates do however vary in position. The most common one is found inside the front door panel. Let’s take for example the Renault Master MH35 FWD dci 150ps. This van has a gross vehicle weight of 3,500 kgs. This means that the maximum weight of the Renault Master including the van, the driver, any passengers, fuel and the load itself must not exceed 3,500 kgs.

As well as gross vehicle weight, you may have also heard of kerb weight. This refers to the vehicle without driver, passengers or load. The weight includes all fuel levels, full fuel tank and any items of standard equipment. To work out the payload you would take the kerb weight away from the gross vehicle weight.

An Example: Renault Master MH35 FWD dci 150ps

The payload of 1,579 kgs is the amount of useable weight available in this van, however, from this number you have to deduct the weight of the driver, any passengers, personal items and any ancillary items including plylining, racking, roof bars etc.

Axle Weight Matters too

Another common mistake is not understanding your vans axle weights. It is extremely important that your load is distributed correctly across both axles. Each axle has a weight limit. If the vehicle exceeds either the Front or Rear Axle Weights then it is breaking the law. In fact it is possible for the van to be under the GVW weight limit but exceed the Rear Axle limit meaning that it is actually being driven illegally. You can be fined up to £300.00 or get a court summons if your van exceeds its maximum permitted axle weight.

It’s always best to know your restrictions so as long as you bear all of this in mind you’ll most likely just carry on business as usual. However, if you have any doubts, take your van to the local weighbridge and get your vehicle checked. It is also important to keep up to date with the latest laws when it comes to driving commercial vehicles. You can see the latest regulations here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/driving-a-van