Our top tips for driving a van for the first time


Driving a van for the first time can be a bit daunting. Getting on the road in a larger vehicle than you’re used to can seem quite a challenge. The truth is, all you need to do is to make a few tweaks to your existing driving habits, and you’ll be a confident van driver in no time.

Here are our top tips for first time van drivers:

Get comfortable

Sitting in the driving seat of a van is going to feel different to that of a car. A major difference is that you don’t have a rear view mirror. Instead, you have two big wing mirrors. Take the time to find a comfortable seating position then adjust your wing mirrors to give you the best view of the road.

Know your controls

Make sure you know where all your controls are, and that you are confident you can find them without taking your eyes off the road. You don’t want to be looking for the light switch when you’re driving on the road. At a speed of 30 mph you can cover the length of two double-decker buses in just 2 seconds.

Know your dimensions

The length and width of your van will be greater than that of the typical car. Make sure you know the dimensions of your vehicle. Some car parks have a height restriction. You also need to make sure you can fit into a space when parking. Above all, you don’t want to get stuck under a low bridge or any car park barriers.

Be patient and courteous

The best van driver is a calm van driver. You don’t want to fall into the “White Van Man” stereotype. Rushing around is not necessarily going to get you to your destination faster, and it could cause risks to yourself and other road users. A van doesn’t handle like a car, so don’t try to drive it like one.

Know your speed limits

Make sure you are aware that vans have a lower speed limit than cars. Single carriageway roads with a national speed limit sign mean 50mph for a van. Dual carriageway roads with a national speed limit sign mean 60mph for a van. In both cases, the speed limit for vans is 10mph slower than that for cars.

Avoid blind spots

Be conscious of the blind spots that are caused by the lack of a rear-view mirror. At junctions, position yourself at 90 degrees to oncoming traffic to give you a good view in both directions – especially when crossing a dual carriageway. Also, when turning at junctions, position your van a little wider to avoid clipping the kerb.

Loading your van

When loading your van, the golden rule is to make sure the heavy items go on the bottom and are securely tied down. If they can move around while you are driving, they could not only risk causing damage to other goods, but they could make your van unstable as you drive. It is also important to know the payload of your van so that you don’t find yourself having to make multiple trips due to too much cargo.

It is important to note that your van may feel different to drive when it is loaded, compared to when it is empty. The difference in internal weight can affect factors such as your suspension. An emptier van will have stronger suspension, whereas a van that is fully loaded will lose a level of the suspension, causing it to feel stiffer when driving over bumps in the road.

If you are thinking about renting a van, get in touch with our team here at CVS Van Hire. With a broad selection of vehicles available, from small vans to minibuses, we’re sure well have one to suit your needs. For any questions about driving our vans safely, or for booking enquiries, contact us today.



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