One in 10 vehicles are light vans

One in 10 vehicles are light vans

The 'White Van Men' are taking over, as the RAC Foundation reveals the number of light vans on Britain's roads has risen by almost a third in the last decade.

Figures show between 2002 and 2012 the number of light commercial vehicles increased by 29% to well over 3 million, while the number of cars rose by just 11% over the same period.

A tenth of all vehicles on the road are light vans while the number of heavy goods vehicles dropped by 5% between the same period.

The study shows an 82% increase in light commercial vehicle ownership in the North East. This is the largest rise across the UK, with London and the North West seeing the smallest increases.

The abundance of vans on the roads suggests Britain has a growing army of sole traders, deliverymen and small businesses - just the sort of enterprises the economy needs to grow, according to RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister.

He said: "The stereotypical white van man comes in for a lot of bad press but the rapidly-rising number of light commercial vehicles on our roads suggests a growing army of hard-working sole traders, deliverymen and small businesses on whom the economy depends.

"Van travel and ownership has grown significantly in recent years and the Government estimates future growth will also be high. Van traffic is set to almost double by 2040, rising twice as fast as traffic overall. The big question is why."

Mr Glaister added: "In 2013 ,three-quarters of British adults shopped online and we have the highest rate of internet shopping in the EU. Intuitively, you would think this has resulted in a big rise in home deliveries and hence van use, but so far no one has crunched the numbers.

"There is also reason to believe hauliers are switching away from larger vehicles because of changing delivery patterns and growing environmental restrictions on HGVs. It could also be that more and more people are running their own businesses and need a van to carry their goods and tools."

Copyright Press Association 2014