7 ways to drive your van more safely (2023)

Written by Steve Cook

Published on

Driving a van comes with lots of benefits, and plenty of risks, too. With a larger vehicle, and a cargo filled with valuable goods, the need to drive safely and reduce your chances of an accident is as important as ever.

So, whether you're an experienced van driver or just starting out, we've put together a few tips to help you drive your van more safely.

1. Get to know your van

If you’re a new van driver, or simply getting used to a new van, the first thing you should do is familiarise yourself with your vehicle. This isn't just about knowing how to switch on the windscreen wipers and headlights – it's about understanding the dimensions of your van, and how it moves and handles.

Adjust your seat so that you’re comfortable and in the right position for driving, and check your mirrors to ensure you have a clear view of your surroundings.

Next, get familiar with the size and dimensions of your van. This is particularly important when navigating tight roads, parking garages or low bridges.

Remember, every van is different, with its own unique features. Spend some time getting to know your van, and you'll find that it becomes more than just a vehicle – it becomes a trusted partner on the road.

2. Map out your journey

Planning your route isn't just about deciding on your destination. It's also about knowing the best way to get there.

Be aware of potential obstacles like low bridges, narrow roads or heavy traffic areas. Use a sat nav or map to plan your route, but also keep an eye on road signs and changes in road conditions.

By planning your route, you're not just driving somewhere, you're navigating the road with confidence. Remember, a well-planned journey is a safer journey, and it can also help reduce stress and make your drive more enjoyable.

3. Load your van carefully

Loading your van is a bit like solving a puzzle. Whether you’re carrying boxes of tools or parcels of paper, Knowing how and where to place each item can ensure a safe and stable journey.

Try to spread the weight evenly across the van, keeping heavier items as low as possible to make things stable. Secure all items to prevent them from moving around while you're driving. This isn't just about making everything fit, it's about creating a balance that keeps you, your van, and your cargo safe.

Remember, a poorly loaded van can affect handling and braking, so take the time to load it properly.

4. Drive safely

Driving a van is different from driving a car. It's heavier, especially when loaded, and this can affect acceleration, braking and handling.

Maintain a safe speed and keep a large gap between you and the vehicle in front, especially in bad weather. Be mindful of the size of your van and the additional blind spots it may have.

Remember, slow and steady wins the race when it comes to driving a van. It's not just about getting to your destination, it's about getting there safely.

Did you know that the Zego Sense app measures how well you drive, and even gives you insights to help you drive safely? All you need is a Zego policy and the Sense app activated on your phone. Give it a try!

van delivery driver driving on her shift

5. Park with precision

Parking a van can take a bit more skill and patience than parking a car. The size of your van, especially its length and height, needs to be taken into account when choosing a parking spot.

Use your mirrors to guide you, and take your time to get your positioning right. If you’re a new driver, or getting used to a new van, see if someone can guide you into a parking space a few times to help you get used to the size and shape of your vehicle.

6. Be a courteous driver

When we’re on the road, we're part of a community of other drivers. And it’s better for everyone when we all show respect.

So, give way when needed, take time to signal where you’re going, and be patient with other road users. It’s about more than just following the rules. A little respect goes a long way in making the road a safer (and nicer) place for everyone.

7. Check your insurance cover

Motor insurance isn't just a piece of paper, it's your safety net. Whether the van is yours, a rental, or a business vehicle, it’s important to have the right cover in place.

So, take the time to understand what your insurance covers and what it doesn't. If you're a self-employed contractor or tradesperson, you’ll need a specialist business van insurance policy to protect your van, your tools and your equipment.

If you’re using your van to work as a delivery driver, carrying third party goods and packages, you’ll need van courier insurance to keep you protected.

If you’re involved in an accident, or your van is stolen or damaged, knowing that you're covered with the right policy will give you the peace of mind you need.

Frequently asked questions

How can I drive my van more safely?

Familiarise yourself with your van and its features, plan your route, and take time to load your cargo or tools properly. Be courteous to other drivers on the road, take care when parking, and always make sure you have the right level of van insurance.

What steps can I take to prevent van theft?

Always lock your van, install a quality alarm system, use additional security devices if you can, park in secure or well-lit areas, and never leave valuables visible to passersby. By taking these steps, you can help to reduce the risk of theft.

How can I secure my van's cargo?

When loading boxes or parcels in your van, try to spread the weight evenly, keeping heavier items as low as possible to make things stable. Stack packages in a way that keeps them secure, or use packing straps, to prevent them from moving around while you're driving.

What are the speed limits for vans?

Speed limits for vans can vary, but typically, a fully loaded van should travel at least 10 mph slower than a regular car. That means, on a single carriageway, the national speed limit sign means 50 mph for vans, and on dual carriageways, it means 60 mph.

How can I reduce the risk of a breakdown in my van?

Keeping your van maintained and in good condition is key to preventing breakdowns. This includes regular oil changes, tyre checks, brake checks, and ensuring all lights are working properly.

What should I do in case of a van accident?

If you’re involved in an accident in your van, make sure everyone's safe, call the police or ambulance service, exchange information with any other drivers, and take as much information at the scene as you can. Once that’s done, report the accident to your insurance provider, ideally on the same day.