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November 23, 2021 at 6:46 PM

It can take a while to get used to driving a van for the first time, especially if you've not driven one before. As a way to help you prepare for your first van journey with more confidence, we have spoken to a couple of experts who know all about how drivers can stay safe on the road - both in terms of avoiding crashes and avoiding injuries created by poor posture. Here are our top tips!


Top tips for first-time van drivers

When it is your first time driving a van, it is perfectly natural to feel apprehensive about getting out on the road in a larger vehicle than you are used to driving. While driving a van may seem intimidating at first, most aspects are no more difficult than they would be in a car. Here are some top tips which you should keep in mind when driving a Luton, or any other type of van, particularly to avoid collisions and injury due to improper posture. 

What to do if you're driving a van for the first time

It is important to become confident operating a van - whether for personal use or for work purposes. Generally, a commercial vehicle that weighs up to 3,500kg can be driven on standard licenses but if the weight of your van exceeds this, you may need to upgrade your license.

HOW TO DRIVE A VAN

Because a van's driving position is different from a car, it may be unfamiliar to you at first, but you might grow to prefer it. Unlike most vans, the main difference is that you don't have a rearview mirror, although you will have two good-sized door mirrors. Make sure you take your time to get your seating position just right before adjusting your mirrors to see the road in front of you.

It's important to learn where all the controls are and which features your new van has. Just looking for the lights while in motion can take your eyes off the road for a short time - at 30 mph, you cover the ground at 45 feet per second, so in two seconds you have covered the length of two double-decker buses without looking at the road.

How big is the van? Does it have a standard or long-wheelbase? Is it tall enough to fit into a car park that has a height restriction? It will help in stressful situations where you might not know if you will fit if you do not know the vehicle's width and height!

Your heavy items should be placed on the lower levels and tied down not just to prevent them from moving around and damaging other belongings, but also because moving items can destabilize your van. Make sure you display the appropriate sticker on the exterior of your vehicle if you are carrying dangerous goods. If your van is empty, remember that your brakes are designed for a full load, so they might be over-responsive.

Driving a van safely requires calmness. Speeding while driving won't necessarily get you anywhere faster, but you'll be more stressed, tempted to take risks, and may annoy other drivers.

Check the speed limit before you put on the brakes. Vans have a different speed limit than cars, and you need to be aware of that. With a national speed limit sign on a single lane, a van can go 50mph, and with a dual lane, it can go 60mph - both 10mph slower than for a car.

When crossing a dual carriageway, it is especially important to position your vehicle so you do not create blind spots. For example, being at 90 degrees should provide you with good visibility in both directions. At intersections, you may need to position yourselves a little wider to avoid clipping the curb when turning.

Last but not least, you can make a difference in road safety by showing other road users how to behave. Give someone time if they seem hesitant - they might not have as much experience as you, and not everyone has your perspective from the driver's seat.

LEARNING TO DRIVE A VAN

It may surprise you to learn that one of the greatest risks to your safety whilst driving – and particularly for those who tend to be on the road for very long periods at a time, such as van drivers – is sitting in an incorrect position.

When you get into your van, it's important to position yourself correctly, as poor posture while driving can leave you feeling uncomfortable. Sitting straight is a simple way to improve driving posture, which can help prevent backaches and possible back injuries. Additionally, it can make it easier to stay alert during long drives.

It is important to adjust the distance between the pedals and the seat in your van so that your knees are slightly bent when you press the pedal. You can also adjust the seat height, tilt, and angle. Make sure you don't have a bulky coat on and take your phone or wallet out of your back pocket to ensure you are sitting up straight. Whenever you get out of your van between jobs, make sure you take regular breaks and stretch.

It is important to maintain good posture while driving, empty your back pockets of wallets and phones, and take regular breaks to prevent back and neck problems.


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