Top tips to improve your van driving

Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK use a van for work every day. From couriers to caterers, plumber to florists, they rely on that vehicle day in, day out, to do their job. Without it, it would be difficult – if not impossible – to do what they do!
Of course, vans and cars are different beasts. The basics of driving both are pretty much the same, but there are some extra things to learn to be safely in control of a van.
We recently wrote a blog sharing advice on how to drive a van safely, which includes some handy tips if this is your first time driving a larger vehicle. But if you’re already a van owner and simply want to brush up on your skills, read on to find out how.
What to do if… you’re always rushing
If you’ve ever had to put your foot down to make a delivery or get to a customer’s house on time, then you simply haven’t planned your trip properly. Rushing can make you feel stressed and increase the risk of being involved in an accident.
There’s a good chance you’ll be driving different routes every day, some of which you might not be familiar with. So, take your time to plan each route before you set off – if you use a sat nav, it still helps to check its suggested route so that you’ve got a rough idea of it in your head. The sat nav will give you an ETA, but always leave plenty of extra time just in case you get held up in traffic (almost a given if you live and work in or near a town or city).
What to do if… unloading your van is proving problematic
Unloading your van not going as smoothly as hoped? Depending on the problems you’re having, here are some things that might help:
  • As AnyVan explains, your van should be unloaded in an area free from traffic or any other obstructions. This will allow you to take your time and will stop you from rushing because you’re worried about causing an inconvenience to others (which can lead to accidents).
  • Always approach your van with caution when opening the doors because it’s possible that items inside will have moved during transit, despite your best efforts to secure them.
  • Always pull up somewhere with a flat surface. If that’s not possible and you need to park on a hill, it’s a good idea to secure the van using chocks.
  • If you’re finding it physically difficult to get goods in and out of your van, look into purchasing a folding ramp.
What to do if… you’ve had a few breakages

If you’ve damaged some items during transit in the past, this could be down to erratic driving – harsh braking and accelerating. But it’s more likely to be because you didn’t load your cargo in the correct way. Remember:
  •  Heavy and/or solid items should be loaded into the van first.
  • All fragile items need to be wrapped or packed before loading.
  • The load needs to be balanced so that the van is more stable (this will make it easier to drive, too).
  • If there’s empty space after loading, use loading straps and/or chains to secure items so that they don’t fly around the van.
  • Never exceed load limits (you can find these in the user manual or on the van manufacturer’s website).
What to do if… you don’t like the lack of a rear-view mirror

The absence of a rear-view mirror in a van can take some getting used to. First things first, though: have you checked that you’re in the optimum driving position? This means tweaking things like seat height and angle, lumbar support and the head restraint so that you feel comfortable driving (which, in turn, will help to prevent things like back pain). Only when you’re in this position should you adjust your large wing mirrors so that you can see as much as possible behind you.
Still not confident? If you feel like you could do with a little helping hand, there are many decent rear camera kits around for vans. These can be really useful when reversing.
What to do if… you’re getting grief from other drivers
Are you drumming up some unwanted attention when driving your van but can’t figure out why? Here’s what you could be doing wrong, and what you can do to be a better van driver.
You’re tailgating
Van drivers have a reputation for their tailgating habits – don’t succumb to the stereotype! When driving behind cars, it helps to ask yourself, ‘Would I feel comfortable if the vehicle behind was this close to me?’
You’re impatient
Yes, you’re eager to get to your next job, but intimidating drivers by getting too near to them and pulling risky manoeuvres isn’t going to help. Remember, there are times when you require the patience of other road users – e.g. when you’re parking your van – so don’t get irate.
If you regularly find yourself getting heated behind the wheel, this is a sign that you’re not giving yourself enough time to get to your jobs.
You’re driving too slow
You’re transporting dangerous or hazardous goods, and you’re driving slower to account for this, but do other road users know that? If they don’t, they might not appreciate why you’re driving at that speed – so, stick a sign on your van to let them know.
You’re driving too fast
Remember there are different speed limits for vans and cars. The limit on single carriageways for vans is 50mph (10mph less than for cars) and dual carriageways 60mph (also 10mph less than for cars). The limit is the same for both vehicles on motorways and in built-up areas.
Van insurance from the Insurance Factory
Hopefully these tips will help you to drive safer on the roads. Van insurance also offers a level of security by protecting your finances if something were to happen to your vehicle – for instance if you were involved in an accident or it got broken into.
At the Insurance Factory, we take pride in arranging competitively-priced van  insurance that will help you to protect your vital business asset.
We cover trades including couriers, scrap dealers and transporters of fragile and hazardous goods, and are committed to finding you a policy that suits your unique needs.
Get a free, no-obligation quote today!

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