Whatever your reasons for hiring a van, there are a few tips that can help to keep you safe and ensure you have an enjoyable experience. It can be a little daunting driving a hire van for the first time. However, the practical tips below will help to ease your mind and prepare you for the long drive ahead.
Understand your limitations
One of the first things you need to learn is the restrictions you’ll be under when you’re driving the van. Did you know for example, that the speed limit for driving a van is lower than that of a car? The main speed limits to be aware of include:
- 70mph on motorways
- 60mph on dual carriageways
- 50mph on single carriageways
- 30mph in built up areas
The only vans that are exempt from the lower speed limits are car-derived vans. These have a maximum overall weight of below 2 tonnes and they include models such as the Ford Fiesta van and the Vauxhall Corsa van.
You also need to be aware of size restrictions. You’ll find that many hire vans are over 2m high. This means that they won’t be able to pass under the majority of car park barriers. It’s a good idea to know the height of the van you’re driving. Some vans feature a sticker on their dashboard which tells you exactly how tall they are. It’s worth noting that the rental company will consider you responsible for any damage that’s caused to the roof.
Adjusting to changes
Driving a rental van is a lot different from driving a car. The mirrors are often in different places. For example, you won’t typically find central rear view mirrors in hire vans as there aren’t usually any rear windows. This means you’ll need to get used to making more use out of your side mirrors and you’ll need to be aware of blind spots. This is particularly important when you’re trying to park up. Reversing can be the most difficult task in a van. Take it slow, make full use of your mirrors and if needed ask for somebody else’s guidance.
The best thing you can do is avoid trying to drive the van like you would with a car. It helps if you plan ahead and simply take it easy while you’re driving. If you drive too fast, the goods you are carrying could easily become damaged. Therefore you need to be aware of what you’re carrying as you drive.
Before you even set off you should make sure you’re familiar with the vans controls. Understand how everything works and pay particular attention to the gear box. Does the van have five or six gears? If there are six gears you can save a lot of fuel by switching to sixth on the motorway.
Another thing you need to be aware of is the space the van will take up when you’re turning corners. Remember it’s longer than a car and it will require more space as you go around a roundabout or make a corner turn.
Overall the key to driving a hire van safely is to take it slowly. It’s always better to be overly cautious than it is to assume you know what you’re doing. The rental company should provide you with advice on the particular van you’re hiring. If not, don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to.
Robert J Hudson is a chief writer for MVR Van Hire during the day and a passionate freelance writer at night. Over the years he has shared his experience by writing for many large UK companys and different online magazines. Connect with him on Google+.