White Van Men Worth Over £35 billion

AA Insurance salutes value of van drivers

20 June 2007

Press Information: Strictly embargoed until 00.01 on 22nd June 2007

Leering drivers, dirty vans and bad driving – for ten years1 white van men have been victims of jokes and social stereotypes, ever since the term was coined by Sarah Kennedy on BBC Radio 2.

However, a new study today dispels the clichés and reveals that the drivers of vans owned by small businesses2 are diligent and hard working with average yearly earnings of £21,000. They therefore contribute over £35 billion3 annually to the UK economy and have an estimated turnover of £215 billion per year4.

AA Insurance's Van Value Study, which questioned 200 commercial van owners in the UK, reveals that over half (59 per cent) of drivers believe their van is essential to the smooth running of their business and almost a quarter (24 per cent) said that significant money (on average £362 per day) would be lost if their van was not available for a day or longer.

The study also reveals that:

  • Building (6 per cent) is the most common occupation
  • Over a third (35 per cent) of commercial van drivers are women
  • Commercial van contents are on average worth £1,382
  • White is the colour of choice for a third (32 per cent) of van owners
  • Over one in 20 (6 per cent) have had 'romantic liaisons' in their van!

Builders, Bakers, Candlestick Makers

Whilst building (6 per cent) and courier services (6 per cent) are the most common professions, more unusual occupations include archery instructors, candle makers, dog walkers, baby activity class organisers and even shepherds!

The Top Five Van Professions are:

  1. Builder
  2. Delivery Courier/Driver
  3. Shopkeeper
  4. Electrician
  5. Handyman

Van Down Time

Work's one thing – UK van drivers like to involve their vehicle out of hours as well, with over one in ten (13 per cent) even saying they prefer their van to their car. Whilst many use it day to day for shopping (56 per cent), moving house (34 per cent) and good causes (28 per cent), others are more adventurous; almost a quarter (24 per cent) take their van on road trips and over one in twenty admit to having 'romantic liaisons' in their vehicle.

White, Red and Blue

Whilst a third (32 per cent) of van drivers opt for their true white colours, blue (22 per cent) and silver (20 per cent) are also popular choices. More unusual colours include pink, purple and mustard.

The Top Five Van Colours are:

  1. White
  2. Blue
  3. Silver
  4. Green
  5. Red

Rhiannon Parker, head of van insurance at AA Insurance, says "Love them or hate them, vans are a big part of our culture and contribute enormously to the UK economy. Whether they're sparkies or plumbers, drivers face significant loss of earnings if their van's out of service, so it's essential to ensure they're properly covered when the worst happens."

To find out more about AA Van Insurance call 0800 107 1469 or visit AA Van Insurance

Notes to editors

These findings are based on Vanson Bourne research of 200 commercial van owners carried out online between 9 and 21 May 2007. Results are weighted to be representative of GB adults.

1 The term 'White Van Man' was coined in 1997 by Sarah Kennedy on BBC Radio 2

2Businesses with nine employees or less

3The £35 billion figure is estimated by multiplying average earnings of van driver by the number of vans driven by small businesses in UK. DTI Small Business Statistics for 2005 show 4,212,925 businesses between 0-9 employees. In our survey of 517 such businesses 38.7% were found to use a van to conduct their business. Extrapolating this percentage to the overall population provides 1.63m businesses in this category using vans. By applying a weighting to account for the 5-9 employee businesses that have more than one van (the average in our survey was 1.58 vans per business), we achieve the estimate used in this release.

4DTI statistics for the same period show that businesses in the 0-9 employee category are responsible for 21% of UK business turnover (or £555bn). By applying the 38.7% factor (small businesses using vans) we achieve the estimated turnover of small businesses using vans of £215bn.


20 June 2007