Advice and Tips

9 Tips for Driving Vans Safely

Amelia S, Brand and Content Specialist
Wednesday, 06 October 2021

Getting behind the wheel of a van may seem like a daunting thought, but it doesn’t need to be. There are a few key van driving safety tips that every van driver should know, no matter how long they’ve been driving one for. 

So, whether you’re a first-time van driver, renting one to move something large or someone who’s been driving a van for years, we think these tips on driving vans safely will come into good use…

1. Know your van

Just as you would before driving a car, it’s important to get to know your van. Vans nowadays will have all the features you are used to in your car, from ABS brakes, stability control systems, steering-wheel airbags, sat-nav and sound systems, the list could go on. So, getting to know your van might just be a quicker task than you thought.

We would suggest looking at the following basic controls before you set off:

  • Lights
  • Wipers
  • Heating/AC
  • Radio
  • Mirrors
  • Seat positioning
  • Getting into gear
a man smiling driving a van

2. Know your route

Planning is very important when driving a van for the first time, or even driving a van down roads and routes you don’t know. If you get lost or stuck this can increase your stress levels and impact your safety when driving.

Plan your route and make sure there are no low bridges, try to avoid single track country roads, tight bends or even complicated roundabouts on your first few journeys. Use a sat nav or have the main road numbers in your mind to ensure your safety on the way.

3. Loading your van

If you overload or poorly load your van it can become very dangerous. Make sure you know the vans maximum load capacity before you start piling things into it. You can find the vans maximum load capacity on the vin plate of the vehicle. This is usually located around the trim of the driver or passenger door opening.

It’s also important to load your van evenly and securely. Keep items as low as possible to lower the centre of gravity of the van and to reduce damaging the load. If you don’t secure items the more likely they are to become damaged, so please make sure you secure anything tall, heavy and valuable.

4. Watch your speed

Naturally a van is heavier than a car, and you need to be aware of the different ways that driving a van is different to a car. You need to watch your speed and keep your distance as you would in a car, but how heavy a van is when it’s loaded will affect your breaking distance.

A heavy load will not only affect the vans breaking ability but also its acceleration and handling of the roads. If you’re unsure, leave a bigger gap than you think you need just to be safe. And if it’s raining then leave even more space to break.

Speedometer

5. Beware of blind spots

A vans rear visibility is another difference between them and cars. Therefore, the blind spots will also be different. There is no back window or back rear windows to use to help you see your surroundings, but you will have larger wing mirrors which will aim to do part of that job.

Just be mindful and double check your blind spots before making any manoeuvre in a van.

6. Turning your van

Depending on how large your van is you will need to leave more space for turning. Don’t forget there is more vehicle behind you than you will be used to and therefore you need to turn corners with a bigger swing.

We would always advise to think forward, both literally and physically, if you know a tight corner is coming up then slow down and think about any obstacles in your way that might not allow you to turn. If you need to, it’s ok to come to a complete standstill if it means you and other drivers will be safe.

7. Driver etiquette

Unfortunately the white van driver has a stereotype, which we’ve seen in our driver perceptions research, and it’s not normally positive. Although it’s a common misconception it does still exist as we’ve seen white van drivers ranked as #3 least favourite driver on the roads.

You can change this stereotype by being courteous to other road users and to remain conscious that your vehicle is much larger than others on the road.

If you are unsure that there isn’t enough space for you and other road users, then slow down and don’t take unnecessary risks.

A man driving a van carefully

8. Parking your van

Whether you think you’re great at parking or not, parking a van is a lot trickier than parking your average car.

Whether you are parallel parking on the street or parking in a bay you must remember the length and width of your van. Also consider the turning circle and how much you might need to swing to get into the space.

If you can take someone with you who is able to get out and guide you into a space should you need it, then this would most definitely be advised.

9. Insurance cover

Whatever you are using your van for, you want to make sure it’s protected in the event that something happens.

If you are carrying tools and they are stored in the van overnight, then you might want to make sure you are also covered for these tools (contents) as well as any damage to the van.

Also make sure you have a good breakdown cover and know exactly who to call if this does happen.

It might also be worth you looking at how to keep your van safe from thieves as this could give you further protection.

We hope you have many miles of safe travels ahead of you!

Amelia S,Brand and Content Specialist
Bringing you information on how to look after your vehicle, save money and enjoy your life on the road.
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