The working-class man who drives around town, fixing and renovating homes, the handiest man with the most reasonable prices. The white van man is Britain’s most iconic symbol of entrepreneurship and also one of the biggest targets for stereotypes and customer ire. Does the white van really attract drivers who bully cars on the road, speed like Top Gear, or slow to a crawl on a one-way street because they’re so full of themselves?
Truth or Fable?
With the character of the white van man being so embedded in pop culture and entertainment, it can be easy to essentially form an opinion of all white van drivers, especially if you’ve never had to ring one up for some needed home repairs. This can be a terrible way to become familiar with the common family-owned mobile businesses.
White vans are often used in movies to commit crimes or transport shady cargo, thanks to their perfect cover as the humble working class fellow who is just looking to make a living. With millions of white vans driving around the country, you can begin to see how maybe a few bad movies or a few bad interactions with random blokes who happen to drive a white van can end up turning stereotypes into irrational fears that could affect honest businessmen.
Numbers Don’t Lie
If public were exposed to the other side of the story, they would quickly learn that white van drivers are not only safe, they’re actually safer than the average driver on the road. That’s right, according to the UK’s emergency services, white van drivers are considered safer and will be the first ones to pull off to the side of the road when an emergency vehicle is making their way up the street. The British government also says that just 32% of all white van drivers have taken out an insurance claim and that 1 in 261 were involved in accidents during 2012. That’s very low for the vehicle that is supposed to be aggressive and reckless in the entertainment world.
One can come to the conclusion, after researching the facts and reflecting upon the importance of a work van to those self-employed or family businesses, that all of this prejudice and criticism essentially comes from those who look down upon the working class. Sure, everyone says they love small businesses and hard-working entrepreneurs, but actions and behavior speaks louder than these words.
The white van man is an important part of the British economy, contributing over 35 billion pounds. That’s because they’re all locally based, taking money and putting it right back into the communities that they service. To those who look at all labour as a dirty, inconvenient job that they wish could be replaced with impersonal robots, they will continue to hide their contempt in their cute humor, but don’t be afraid to stick up for the little guy.
If you ever find yourself cursing at a white van man holding up traffic or blinding you with their high-beams, take a breather and give them a chance, nobody is perfect. Don’t let the stereotypes allow you to subconsciously treat drivers differently based off of BBC comedies and smelly jumpsuits.