Young driver, first van? Everything you need to know so you don’t get caught out
New van drivers are being warned to take precautions to stay safe on the roads and prevent hefty fines.
Van insurance experts at Quotezone.co.uk have named seven crucial road safety rules and tips new van drivers need to know to prevent getting caught out.
With more than four million vans registered in the UK, regulatory roadside stops of vans are becoming more common.
Beginner van drivers need to be aware of this before heading out on the roads to avoid being hit with large fines.
The average fine per offence for van drivers is £972*, which makes it crucial to be aware of the rules and regulations.
Drivers must remember most commercial vehicles have lower speed limits than cars, and they can be hit with a fine of up to £1,000 if they don’t adjust their speed to their vehicle.
Another thing to keep in mind is to stick to the vehicle’s weight limits, as overloading the van affects its performance and safety, and can lead to a £300 fine.
Van drivers should take extra precautions when driving with heavy loads, the goods should be secured and evenly distributed.
Those who are driving long distances must also incorporate breaks into their journeys, as rule 91 from the Highway Code says drivers should take a break of at least 15 minutes after every two hours of driving.
Those new to van driving should remember they are allowed to work for up to 11 hours in one 24-hour period, but they’re not allowed to drive for more than ten of those hours.
Greg Wilson, Founder of the UK’s first van insurance comparison site, Quotezone.co.uk said: “It’s important to understand that driving a van, whether private or commercial, has a lot of safety elements to consider and differs a great deal from driving a car.
“There’s been a surge in new van drivers in recent years as people take on additional work – many of whom may not realise the extent at which the rules of the road change for van drivers.
“Vans need extra precautions because they are larger and heavier than most cars, making them more susceptible to accidents.
“Failing to follow the rules and regulations can lead to costly fines and penalty points, as well as increased insurance premiums.
“Some offences like exceeding the manufacturer’s load limit can even invalidate insurance cover.
“It’s also important to bear in mind that vans are subject to lower speed limits and the stopping distances should be increased when carrying heavy loads.”
The team at Quotezone.co.uk have put together a list of precautions all new van drivers need to know:
- Speed limits
Vans are subject to lower speed limits than cars on certain roads. On dual and single carriageways the speed limit for vans is ten mph less than the maximum for cars. This is because vans weigh more and are therefore harder to control and can inflict greater damage. Speeding can result in fines ranging from £100 to £2,500 and three to six penalty points.
- Secure goods
It’s important to load your van securely, especially if you’re carrying heavy goods. Unsecured cargo can move around in your van and cause it to roll or shift forward when braking. Make sure to distribute the load evenly and use straps to keep the goods in place.
- Weight limits
Exceeding the manufacturer’s load limit can put a serious strain on the vehicle, affecting its performance and safety. The weight limit can be found on the van identification number (VIN) plate. Exceeding the limit can result in a £300 fine and may invalidate insurance cover. If a driver overloads their vehicle to the point where it poses a hazard to other road users, they can be charged with a dangerous driving offence where penalties are more serious.
- Extra stopping distance
Because of their size and weight, vans take longer to come to a complete stop. That’s why it’s important to leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles to ensure sufficient reaction and braking time. This is especially crucial in wet and icy conditions.
- Regular breaks
To prevent fatigue, it’s important to take regular breaks on long journeys. Rule 91 from the Highway Code says drivers should take a break of at least 15 minutes after every two hours of driving. If you’re using the van for work, then the legal limit for the time spent behind the wheel in a single day is ten hours.
- Height restrictions
Be mindful of height restrictions when driving vans – whether navigating tunnels, underpasses, bridges or parking structures with height limitations, it’s crucial to factor in these restrictions to ensure a smooth and safe journey.
- Correct insurance
If you’re driving the van for hire or commercial purposes then you have to make sure you’re insured for business use. You’ll also want to make sure your insurance policy covers any goods, tools or equipment in your van. Having the correct insurance policy provides financial protection against accidents and theft.
- Modifications can invalidate insurance
Make sure to check the list of modifications for any alterations to your van, even branding on the exterior can be classified as a modification – failure to update your insurance provider could see your insurance policy rendered invalid.
This article is intended as generic information only and is not intended to apply to anybody’s specific circumstances, demands or needs. The views expressed are not intended to provide any financial service or to give any recommendation or advice. Products and services are only mentioned for illustrative rather than promotional purposes.