WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND, March 28, 2011 /24-7PressRelease/ -- There is no such thing as white van man. Or is there? The Ford Motor company sells 60,000 Ford Transit vans a year and 84% of them are finished in white. Ten years ago, that figure was 95%, so there has been a change, but not much.
On the other hand if someone is buying a German marque, they are more likely to go for a colour, and quite often a metallic colour. This desire to be different has not really caught on though. Favourite van colours are silver (7%), red (8%) and blue (13%), but 64% of vans running on British roads are still white!
In other words, white van man is still alive and very much with us.
The term was inadvertently invented by a disgruntled Radio 2 presenter over ten years ago who had been cut up on her morning commute by a bad driver - who just happened to be driving a white van.
The name stuck, and along with taxi drivers and bus drivers, the average British driver at the wheel of a van is now classed in the same category as parking wardens and pensioners driving Volvos.
Which is a cruel travesty of the truth. There is no such thing as the average van driver. The majority of blokes driving vans are tradesmen or workmen going to and from their regular jobs. Those who drive vans for a living such as couriers are actually in the minority accounting for around 22% of the nation's 'van drivers'.
Speaking of couriers, it is often the case that it is the minority in any profession who have a bad impact on the reputation of the many. And what angers motorists most is seeing large white vans in their mirrors, charging up the fast lane on motorways. Having said that, since 2007 all new large vans over 3.5t GVW have had to have speed limiters fitted, just like heavy trucks, and older vans will have to have them retro-fitted. This will limit the top speed of such vehicles to 56 mph.
So although it won't prevent all instances of vans speeding, it will have an impact on how the largest vans are driven. As we know only too well, it takes just one example of bad practice to tarnish the reputation of the rest - like that original Radio 2 DJ for instance.
According to the AA, van drivers are safer, causing fewer accidents, than regular motorists. Apparently 68% of van drivers have made no insurance claims. And if you want another fascinating fact, according to the emergency services, ambulance and fire engine drivers have a very high regard for van drivers who are often the first to see and hear them coming and move over. That's because a van driver uses his rear vision mirrors!
On the whole, the majority of van drivers rate themselves as pretty good drivers. According to research carried out by the Social Issues Research Centre, around 75% of men rate themselves as better than average drivers. Most van drivers also reckon they are non-aggressive with only 10% admitting to the 'occasional misdemeanour'!
A few years back, Ford Motor Company commissioned a study which revealed that van drivers are really quite intelligent. More than half of them read books regularly. And depending on your definition of romance, they also appear to be quite romantic. Over 1 in 20 drivers have had a 'romantic engagement' in their van. Just don't expect flowers.
This same study also reported that 71% of van drivers regard themselves as 'careful and considerate' road users while the vast majority (74%) do not identify themselves with the term "white van man" . In fact, 37% found the term insulting. And since there are around 2.5 million white vans in the UK, that's a lot of folk who could be provoked all too easily. So now you know.
Driving is all about sharing the roads, it's not a "them and us" chariot race between cars and vans. So if you want to find out what it's like to be van driver, go and hire a van for a couple of days - and see how the rest of the world treats you.
It'll be an eye opener!
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Van Trader: White Van Man - Fact or Fable?
March 28, 2011 at 04:00 AM EDT