It’s important to remember that vans don’t have rearview mirrors, so you must make sure that your other mirrors are adjusted so you have a clear view of the road around and behind you. Ensure that your seat is in a comfortable position so you can easily reach the wheel and brakes, and familiarise yourself with the dashboard - there may be buttons that differ from those on a car’s dashboard. Check if you have a sixth gear - this should be used when driving at high speeds so you can save fuel.
Using your van to move heavy items? Make sure you load them safely and securely, or they could get damaged. Start by loading heavy items in the bottom and centre of the van, with lighter items on top - that way you’ll reduce the risk of items being crushed. It’s also a good idea to tie your items together and to the floor of the van, so they don’t move around too much while the van is moving.
While many elements of driving a van may be the same as driving a car, there’s a fundamental difference between the two that you may not be aware of - speed limits. Vans have lower speed limits than cars in the UK, so make sure you aren’t going too fast. These are the current speed limits for vans in different areas:
Vans are heavier than cars, and so take a little more time to slow to a stop. That means you need to remember to start braking earlier than you normally would while driving a car - as you practice driving your vehicle, this will soon become a habit. Mind out when turning corners if you have a heavy, uneven load in the back of the van - going too fast around a bend might send your wares flying, or worse, topple your vehicle.
It’s important to have insurance in place before you start driving your van, whether it’s borrowed or hired. If you don’t have insurance and you end up in an accident, or the van is stolen, it could leave you hundreds or thousands of pounds out of pocket. If the van already has a policy in place from the company you hired it from, check the excess. How much is it? Van-specific excesses are often more than those for a car, so it’s best to be sure before you start driving.