If you've never driven a van before, it's normal to feel a little nervous about taking a bigger vehicle out on the road for the first time. But while the thought of getting behind the wheel of a van may be scary, the truth is that most things about driving a van are no harder than driving a regular car.
To help you feel more prepared for your first time driving a van, we've compiled a list of factors to consider before setting off and whilst operating a van.
Check your driving licence
The good news is that most vans do not require a special licence; your standard driver's licence will suffice.
However, this isn't always the case, as certain vans require a different type of licence. You can check what you vehicles you can drive with your licence here.
Know Your Van's Dimensions
Vans come in different sizes, with many being taller than regular cars. It's helpful to take a moment to understand their dimensions or keep a note inside the van. This knowledge can prevent expensive damages, particularly when encountering height barriers and bridges.
Familiarise Yourself with Onboard Features
The controls in a modern van are very similar to those in a car but it is best to familiarise yourself with what's on board before you set off. Is there a reversing camera, parking sensors, or any media and guidance features? Learn where the controls are and how to use them so you can stay concentrating whilst driving a larger vehicle and keep your eyes on the road.
Make adjustments to the seat and mirrors
To avoid aches and pains, it's important to adjust the position of the seat and the steering wheel before you start on your journey. It's also essential to set the bigger wing mirrors at the right angle to get a good view. Keep in mind that the blind spots in vans are much bigger than on cars so make sure you're checking them effectively before manoeuvring. Also, depending on the type of van, you might not have a central rear-view mirror inside the cabin, which can take some adjusting to.
Check the speed limit
It is important to remember that the speed limit for vans is different from that for cars. Vans can only go 50 mph on single-lane roads with a national speed limit sign, and they can only go 60 mph on double-lane roads with a national speed limit sign. This is 10 mph slower than what cars can do.
Load your van carefully
When you use your van for transporting items, make sure to tie them securely and use anchoring points in the load area. This is especially important if you're moving big or fragile items.
It is also important to ensure the weight is spread out evenly and that the maximum weight is never passed. As well as being unsafe, if you exceed your vehicle's weight limit, you can receive a fixed fine of up to £300 from the DVSA.
Check for wear and tear
Like with any other vehicle, you should always check the oil level, tread depth of the tyres and make sure the lights and brakes are working before you get behind the wheel. This is especially important with a big, heavy vehicle like a van.
If you are a competent driver, driving a van on the road shouldn't be any scarier than driving your car. Keep the tips we've discussed here in mind and you’ll be a confident van driver in no time.