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Revealed: The hazards of cluttered vans

Written by
Julie Daniels
Motor insurance expert
8 MARCH 2023
3 min read
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You might not think it’s a big deal leaving empty food and drink packaging or other loose items in your van, but you’d be wrong. Mess and clutter are more dangerous than you’d think and could increase your risk of having an accident.

We conducted a survey of UK van drivers to find out how many have unclean vans, and if this clutter has had an impact of the likelihood of road accidents.

57% of respondents are distracted by the clutter in their vans

It turns out we’re a relatively messy bunch, with 38% of respondents admitting to driving a messy van. The main culprit of this clutter is tools and appliances, closely followed by food and drink packaging. However, some drivers did admit to having more hazardous items lying around such as pesticides and glass. 

Worryingly, 57% said that they get distracted when their van is messy, and despite this causing a higher risk of accidents, for 22% of drivers, it can take them a week or longer to remove the rubbish from their vehicle.

One of the biggest dangers of having mess in any vehicle is not being able to hit the brake or accelerator if needed. In fact, 26% of respondents said that they had experienced bottles and other rubbish obstructing their pedals whilst driving. Not being able to hit the brakes if you need to – especially if you’re on a fast-moving road– isn’t just a scary thought, it could be fatal.

Similarly, 17% admit to having their view through the front window obscured because of an overflow of rubbish on their dashboards, which could also result in a serious accident.

46% of survey respondents have been in an accident caused by clutter

A staggering 46% of those surveyed said that the mess in their van had caused an accident and 30% said these accidents have resulted in injuries for either themselves, other drivers, or passengers.

The messiest vans are likely to be found in Newcastle, Sheffield and Cardiff. If we then look at accidents caused by this mess, 36% of Manchester respondents said they’d been in an accident resulting in injury due to distractions from clutter, followed by 25% in London.

Top tips on securing items safely in your van

These shocking stats certainly show a need for regular maintenance and upkeep of your van. Here are some quick tips to advise on how best to store your tools and equipment and keep your van road safe.

As with any vehicle it is important you have the right cover for you, that not only meets the legal requirements but also ticks your personal wish list as well. You should investigate the different types of van insurance on offer to find the best deal for you.

Final Thoughts

Even minor distractions can cause accidents whilst you’re on the road and that’s why drivers should make extra effort to cut back on clutter and reduce avoidable mistakes.

With a work van it may be hard to keep clean, but safety should come first. Drivers should ensure that items are stowed away safely avoiding particularly hazardous areas such as the pedals or windscreen.


Survey of 1,000 UK van drivers undertaken in February 2023 by TLF.