White van man

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Reconstruction work on Mansfield Road, Oxford, with assorted white vans
A Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, a typical white van

"White van man" is a stereotype used in the United Kingdom for a smaller-sized commercial van driver,[1] typically perceived as a selfish, inconsiderate driver who is mostly petit bourgeois and often aggressive.[2] According to this stereotype, the "white van man" is typically an independent tradesperson, such as a builder, plumber or locksmith, self-employed, or running a small enterprise,[2] for whom driving a commercial vehicle is not their main line of business, as it would be for a professional freight-driver.[3] The "white" refers to the archetypal and most common colour of the van, not the driver himself.


The first recorded use in the British press was in an article titled "Number is up for White Van Man – scourge of the road." published by The Sunday Times on 18 May 1997 written by Jonathan Leake, that paper's then-transport editor. Later in 1997, it was used by BBC Radio 2's Sarah Kennedy. She was made honorary president of the First Ford Transit Owner's Club in 2005.[4]

The Sun newspaper ran a regular "White Van Man" column for some years[when?] in which the driver of a light goods vehicle was interviewed in his van on the issues of the day. These columns were accompanied by a picture of whichever driver had been interviewed leaning out of his cab.[citation needed]

The term was used in 2010 as part of road safety campaigns by the Freight Transport Association.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ WARREN HOGE (2000-07-14). "Leatherhead Journal; The White Van Man of England: Oh, He's a Devil! – New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2013-08-05.
  2. ^ a b Leo Benedictus (2006-07-07). "The question: Can we ever love White Van Man? | Life and style". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-08-05.
  3. ^ Shaw, Esther (25 April 2013). "Watch out for White Van Man!". Moneysupermarket.com. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  4. ^ carpages.co.uk – Ford Transit Owners Club
  5. ^ "Freight Transport Association Warns White Van Man Of Overloading Freight Dangers – Latest industry shipping news from". The Handy Shipping Guide. 2010-06-24. Retrieved 2013-08-05.

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