How to be a safer van driver

Any seasoned van driver knows that getting behind the wheel of a van irrespective of the size is entirely different to being behind the wheel of a car. Vans tend to be a lot heavier than a standard car which makes things a little bit trickier. While most drivers are aware that before you set foot in your van to take off, you should check your oil, water and tyre thread depth but there are a few more things that you might forget.

Here are some tricks and tips to make every journey in a van safer.

1.Plan your route in advance and allocate extra time.


When you have a hectic schedule of night shifts, day shifts and tight deadlines you might always feel like your fighting the clock. However this can have an antagonistic effect on safe driving procedures. So when it comes to long journeys in the van, it’s vital to plan!

Oftentimes, in your line of work you’ll be moving items from one location to another. As such, you could be driving on unfamiliar roads every single day and in tandem, you might have time restrictions.

To avoid rushing, getting stressed and being forced to put your foot on the accelerator, try to plan a route that avoids traffic and congestion.

In addition to route planning, sit down ahead of time and identify the length of time the journey will take. Then add 30 minutes to it. This will help to ensure that you have a little bit of leeway should you meet any obstructions on the road.

Remember that speed kills and you’re far more likely to have an accident if you are rushing from A to B. Take the time to organise and plan!

2.Adopt a comfortable driving position.


Another difference between driving a car and driving a van is the seat position. When you are behind the wheel of a van you are much higher off the ground. When you’re in a van that’s full with cargo it can often decrease visibility from a rear view perspective.

Do your best to try and maintain visibility from all angles, adjust your wing mirrors and reshuffle cargo in the back if this helps.

Try out different positions with your seat to ensure that you are at your most comfortable. When you are driving long distances, you want to avoid getting unnecessary aches and pains where possible. Adjust your large door mirrors to optimise your field vision as this will give you largest possible view of the road.

3.Load your cargo properly.


Research conducted by Volkswagon in 2015, outlined that nearly 50% of commercial van drivers have overloaded their vans at some point. Driving an overloaded van poses a very serious safety hazard to the drivers of fleets and to other people on the road. While sometimes there may be pressure on van drivers to carry increased loads and reduce fuel costs by making one journey, this can be dangerous.  Aside from being risky it is also illegal. Since the 3rd of August 2012, the driver of an overweight van in Ireland will receive one penalty point and a payment of a €200 euro fine. The RSA want to see a clamping down on overweight vehicles because there is such a myriad of risks. Head of service and parts at Volkswagon commercial vehicles argues that it is crucial to choose the appropriate van for the job to avoid unnecessary loading.

So, always take the time to ensure that you are distributing your cargo safely and evenly in the back of your van. Always load items in rows from the back to the front of the van space, and utilise all space under and inside items like chairs to help restrict the movement of unwieldy small items. Dismantle large items, especially tables, to help lower the centre of gravity of items that are top-heavy.

4.Remember to increase your breaking distance.


The heavier your payload, the larger your van and this means that you will also need to increase the amount of distance between you and the car ahead.

If you need to stop in hurry you don’t want to run the risk of running into another car. This would be dangerous for you and other road users and it might also mean needing to call your insurance company.

You want to avoid all of the above so be mindful of those around you when you are on the road.

5.Reduce speed.


It goes without saying but one of the most vital steps to take to ensure safety in the van is to slow down. When the roads are quiet at night and when you’re eager to get your destination, it might be tempting to put your foot on the pedal a little heavier than usual. However, this is incredibly dangerous. In bad weather or when it gets dark, visibility is reduced and response time can also be impacted, if you reduce speed, it will be easier and safer to brake if necessary.

If you’re on the hunt for appropriate van insurance then why not speak to a broker at insuremyvan.ie? Our experts will do their ultimate best to find you the best van insurance cover at the best price. Contact us today!