Who’s Driving UK’s Vans? You Might Be Surprised by the Answer

It might surprise you, but while the number of heavy goods vehicles have remained mostly flat in the decade up to 2012, the number of light goods vehicles (LGVs) has risen steadily. The types of owners of these vehicles has also been evolving with the growth of internet-based businesses where fast local deliveries in a specific city are often part of the selling point to customers.

While companies like Deliveroo which Amazon recently bought a stake in dominate in the scooter market to weave in and out of busy roads, for larger deliveries, you cannot forget about the van.

Everyone from dog walkers to tree surgeons to handyman services use vans to get around and bring their tools with them. Other service providers on wheels find that using a van is easier to transport goods directly to their customers. Other times, it’s just handy to have the extra space when moving to a new house or helping a friend do so.

Van Statistics from the RAC

Based on the van trends publication from the RAC, they estimate that an LGV has a tenth of the market for vehicles on the road now. Indeed, that continues to grow at a roughly 250 percent faster pace than cars.

In just the 2002 to 2012 period, the number of vans jumped 29 percent. As of 2012, 3.3 million vans were on the roads around Great Britain. HGVs declined by 5 percent over the same period while cars increased just 11 percent.

Are the Van Drivers Men or Women?

Over half of van drivers are men at the present time, according to information from Admiral Group relating to their policyholders.

Typically, over 68 percent of van drivers are men. This may also be connected to the need to sometimes lift heavy objects into and out of the back or side of the van. Many insurers find that the majority of insurance is paid for by men in their 40s or 50s even when women are driving the van that’s being insured.

Of the vans where women paid for the insurance, close to half were in the 46 to 60 age brackets whereas about a third were women aged from 31 to 45. There are clearly not many millennials in this group compared to Generation X.

Surprising Jobs for Van Drivers

According to Admiral, amongst the female van drivers, the jobs they did were quite an eclectic mix. The jobs included dog walkers, nursery nurses, a beautician, and being a director of a company.

For the male van drivers, their jobs included carpenter, builder, painter and decorator, and company directors as well. Firefighters, plumbers and tree surgeons were not far down on the list either.

There’s also an increase in vans being used to complete last-mile deliveries to customers. Being a delivery driver or a courier is often a cause to be a van owner too.

Number of Self-employed on the Rise

It’s also been confirmed recently by the Office for National Statistics that the number of self-employed has risen since 2001 to almost 5 million compared to a little over three million at the start of the period. The self-employed worker now represents a not insignificant 15 percent of the total UK workforce.

The gig economy is here. It’s evident in the change in van usage. Trends towards more e-commerce and last-mile deliveries are also borne out by van usage statistics too. This is something that insurance companies and van manufacturers need to keep an eye on, because with changing demand comes different requirements from van owners too.

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