What you should know as a first-time van driver

New van drivers

When it comes to operating a commercial vehicle, it’s important to know the difference between a van and a car. Whether you’re a new van driver looking for vans on finance or have taken a break from driving and want to get back behind the wheel, cluing up on the facts is a good idea.

So, with this in mind, here’s what you should know.

1) You need the correct license

If you have a standard UK driving license, that’s a good start as it covers regular cars as well as light commercial vehicles. Therefore, if you want to drive a van that weighs up to 3,500kg, you’ll be good to go. You can also tow an additional 750kg with a trailer. Should you wish to drive a heavier vehicle between 3,500kg and 7,500kg or tow a heavier load, however, you will need to add higher categories to your existing driving license – yes, that means another test.

2) You can only drive for a limited time

Do you drive a van for commercial purposes? If so, the UK law states that you can only work for 11 hours a day and drive for ten of those. So, if you’re planning a long trip, you must think carefully about when you will make the return journey. If you tow a trailer and the total combined weight of the vehicle and trailer exceeds 3.5 tonnes, EU rules state you can only drive for nine hours a day. This must be broken up into 4.5-hour chunks with at least 45 minutes of rest in between. Pulling over at a café for a bite to eat is one way to break up the day rather than eating in your van.

3) You must prioritise insurance and MOTs

Whether you buy your commercial vehicles from used van dealers or take advantage of van contracthire offers, looking after your van is a must. This means taking out a comprehensive van insurance policy and making sure you never miss your regular MOT. MOTs must be carried out when a vehicle is three years old and every year after that. So, even if you buy used vans that are nearly new, you should keep your documents to hand for that all-important check-up down the line. If your MOT is not up to date and your van is of testable age, you could end up with a fixed penalty notice from the police or a court fine.

4) Loading and unloading should be done safely

As a first-time van driver, you may be unaccustomed to where and when you can load and unload safely. No matter what job you are doing, look out for designated loading bays. These will be marked out on the road in white paint with the word ‘loading’ written inside. If there are double yellow lines on the road, don’t stop or unload as this is not legal in this area. Single yellow lines mean no loading during set times, so keep an eye on local signage.

5) There are specific speed limits for vans

There are different speed limits for vans and cars on British roads. Essentially, the speed limit for vans drops by 10mph on single and dual carriageways. Here are the speeds you need to know.

Built-up areas: 30mph

Single carriageways: 50mph

Dual carriageways: 60mph

Motorways: 70mph

If you are looking for commercial vehicle sales Kent and Essex or van servicing Maidstone and Harlow, contact Vanwise Group today. As a reputable used vans dealership, business contract hire solutions are also available at dealership locations across Harlow and Maidstone.