The phenomenon of the young male van driver, who overtakes with only millimetres to spare, has become so widespread that tomorrow Lord Whitty, the road safety minister, will launch the Good Van Code. Devised by the Freight Transport Association, the code is aimed at transforming the two million van owners in this country into model drivers and restoring their image as sensible road users.
The hope is that this modern species of motoring demon, which has already been blamed for more than a quarter of all 3,600 annual road deaths in Britain, will no longer inspire terror in other drivers.
The code is similar to one which has already been introduced for lorry drivers and which has reduced road accidents by 25 per cent.
Van drivers will be issued with a 52-page handbook urging them to be "courteous and professional". It includes sections on defensive driving and good neighbourliness.
There have been other attempts recently to transform the image of White Van Man from lout to homelover. A study by the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford claimed that he loved his wife and would rather kick a football around the park than succumb to road rage.
However, the survey of 200 van drivers also helped to confirm his penchant for junk food and pop music, as well as his limited reading tastes.
John Hix, a spokesman for the FTA, says the public perception of white van drivers as a nuisance has increased as more companies have switched to smaller vehicles to transport goods.
"We don't think it's fair that our industry is at the butt of this joke," he said. "But there is a problem which has been created by a minority who do fit this image created by the media."Reuse content