26 Oct 2020

Whether you are renting or have just bought your own van, sitting behind the steering wheel for the first time can quite often be a daunting moment for most drivers. The height, vehicle size and the simple fact that you are one mirror down can cause a degree of uncertainty about the drive ahead. Today, we are here to lend you some helpful tips to ensure that your first drive behind the wheel of a van is safe and steady.

Comfort is key


Before placing the key into the ignition, adjust your wingmirrors and seat to ensure that you are seated comfortably and can operate all pedals effectively. It is possible that you will require route guidance for your journey ahead, so ensure that your device is set-up out of the view of the windscreen and working properly. Once your ignition is switched on, you may wish to adjust the heat temperatures of the vehicle to a comfortable level to save you from multi-tasking whilst on the road.

Check the controls


You will find it beneficial before driving away from your parked location to examine the placement of the vehicle’s controls, such as the indicators, windscreen washer, wipers and headlights. You will also want to ensure that you can see the surrounds and back corners of your vehicle effectively as you will be driving and manoeuvring without the use of a rear-view mirror – a factor which often spooks first-time van drivers – but if positioned correctly, it should cause no threat to the journey.

Be aware of your dimensions


In a larger vehicle, you will need to take into consideration the length and width of your van, as well as its height. You may find that you are unable to fit your vehicle into a number of car parks, especially multi-stories, as well as through roads with width restrictors, tunnels or bridges. It would be beneficial once familiarising yourself with the measurements of the van to pre-plan your journey and loading destinations to ensure that you don’t get caught in a sticky situation!

Watch the weather


Weather conditions are something which need to be assessed no matter what vehicle you are driving. However, in a van or high-sided vehicle, you will need to take additional levels of caution. Winds are able to catch taller vehicles on the open roads, causing dangerous driving or swaying between lanes. If the weather on your day of travelling contains warnings, choose an alternate, safer route before setting off on the road.  

Park with confidence


Parking is another daunting aspect of driving a van for the first time. With lack of a rear-view mirror and window, you may feel as though you are reversing blind into your parking bay. However, with the height of the vehicle combined with your wingmirrors, you will have visibility to every angle needed. Take it slow and remain confident in your vehicle.

Road safety


When on the road, it is important that you remain aware of your speed and breaking distance in case of any hazards. These factors will differ to those you are used to when driving a car. The added weight and size of your vehicle will mean that the time it takes to come to a complete stop once the breaks have been applied will lengthen, roughly around four car lengths longer. This will elongate further depending on your payload. Because of this, the speed of your driving is expected to be slower, following national guidelines. For cars, a national speed limit indicates that you must not exceed 60mph on a single carriageway, or 70mph on dual carriageways. For each road type, the national limit applies to van drivers as 10mph slower, allowing you to travel 50mph on single carriageways, 60mph on dual carriageways and only ever reaching a maximum speed of 70mph once on a motorway.

If you require any further assistance with advice on driving your van, or if you would like to get in touch to discuss the rental vehicles we have to offer, give us a call at CVS Van Hire by calling 020 8003 1184 and we will be happy to help.