In the UK, a ‘white van man’ is stereotype typically applied to independent tradespeople such as plumbers, electricians or gas engineers. They are often dubbed as being inconsiderate, rude, aggressive, and just generally unpleasant.

It is fair to say that this stereotype has sadly and unfairly tarnished the reputation of tradespeople with the same unfortunate brush. But is it an unfair portrayal? Or are the white van men of Great Britain really just as bad as they’re made out to be?

Here are the most common ‘white van man’ stereotypes that simply aren’t true:

They’re All Men

In recent years, the percentage of tradeswomen have increased substantially, and the general attitude towards women working in trade has shifted.

The perception of tradespeople being burly, tough men doing dirty, hard manual labour, is increasingly a thing of the past. 

Women are far more supported by the notion that they can do just as good a job as men, and should be encouraged to do so - could ‘white van woman’ have a ring to it?

They’re All Dangerous Drivers


Another unfortunate label for white van men is that they’re dangerous and inconsiderate drivers.

In order to address these concerns, in 2014 a study was made into the quality of driving by men in white vans. It was discovered that white van drivers are actually half less likely to be involved in an accident than car drivers .

Whilst it’s certainly possible that some white van men are bad drivers, it’s surely unfair to portray every white van driver as being ‘bad’, and extremely unlikely that the quality of somebody’s driving could be affected by what vehicle they drive.

They All Drive Aggressively

Again, it’s impossible to claim that the WVM (white van man) doesn’t drive aggressively - but that’s not to say that they all drive aggressively.

It’s certainly fair to say that car drivers can also be aggressive on the road. Road rages happen all the time, and obviously not exclusively concerning people driving white vans.

The creation of the WVM stereotype during the 1990’s has led to people simply being more aware of having a road rage with a white van, meaning that they’re more likely to remember their encounter and believe that the stereotype is justified.

They Park Awkwardly

In fairness to the WVM, he doesn’t have the smallest of vehicles, nor the most flexible of schedules.

When dashing in and out of hardware stores, picking up and dropping off appliances, waiting around for deliveries, making deliveries and stops to customers’ houses, they hardly have the time or space to park in a considerate location.

It may be frustrating, but put yourself in their shoes - it might be your kitchen they’re just eager to finish on time.

They’re Particularly Rude To Other Motorists

While there’s no real way of proving this is true or otherwise, several studies have come up with an interesting reason for this conception of white van men.

Studies made by Moneysupermarket show that one WVM is more likely to be polite to another WVM. This could suggest that they feel threatened or bullied by the stigma which has grown around them, and might be instinctively defensive about their place on the road.

According to Moneysupermarket, it’s motorists in cars such as a porsche, 4x4, BMW or Mercedes which are the most rude on the road.

To encourage the WVM as a fellow driver, we must dispel this unpleasant, unjustified stereotype ourselves. Welcome the WVM onto the road, and make it a safer place for all vehicles.

They All Work In The Trade Industry

By all means, some white van men work as self-employed tradesmen - plumbers, electricians or gas engineers - but certainly not all white van men work in the trade industry.

Couriers and delivery men also drive white vans, and these are certainly exceptions to the negative perceptions around the WVM.

In fact, there are plenty of examples of very courteous, polite courier and delivery companies, determined to dispel the idea of white van men being anti-social or rude, such as the White Van Gentlemen delivery company.

Tradesmen Are All ‘White Van Men’

And nor is it the case the other way around. Anybody thinking about working in trade should not be put off by the unpleasant stereotypes that exist around the white van man.

There may well be white van men who are tradesmen, but it is certainly not the case that all tradesmen are or ought to be the stereotypical white van man.

On the contrary, the trade industry is full of people of all backgrounds, and you can be whatever kind of worker you choose to be.

If this article still hasn’t convinced you of that, then a visit to our Access Training centres surely will.

Access Training offers professional skills training to anybody thinking of starting a career in the trade industry. With highly experienced tutors, we offer you the best possible preparation to have a successful, rewarding career in trade

Alternatively, give our course advisers a call on 0800 345 7492, and they will sure to be answer any queries you might have.

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