Army of white van men give the economy a boost …

The Times, 26 April 2016, Graeme Paton, Transport Correspondent

The stereotypical white van man who leers at women and swears at slow drivers is a thing of the past, it seems: today he is more likely to be delivering freshly cut flowers or the latest fashion lines to your doorstep.

The number of vans on British roads has topped four million for the first time, thanks largely to an online shopping boom, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Almost six in 10 of the 4,007,331 vans are white.

The society said in a report that internet shopping — and the need for more vans to deliver the goods — was providing a significant boost to the economy. Mike Hawes, the chief executive, said: “Commercial vehicles have never been more important to the British economy, transporting vital goods and services using the latest low-emission technology.”

Less welcome, however, is the ever-rising volume of traffic on British roads: separate figures from the Department for Transport show that vehicles travelled on local A roads at an average of 23.6mph during the morning rush hour in the year to September; down from 23.7mph a year earlier. In London, vehicles reached an average speed of barely 15mph.

The number of miles covered by all vehicles across Britain increased by 2.2 per cent to 316.1 billion. Van traffic increased by 6 per cent to a record 46.9 billion miles.

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