Van driving is essential for a wide range of professions. From trades like plumbing and electricians to courier services, a van can make your life much easier and even increase the amount of business you get.
If you want to increase your company’s chances of growing the business, investing in vans for your employees and contractors is a fantastic solution. However, if you have never used commercial vans before, there are several things you need to know beforehand.
What are the benefits of owning and driving a van?
Driving vans for business comes with an array of crucial benefits that will drastically improve your company’s prospects.
It doesn’t take an expert to understand why space is so important for commercial needs. Rather than go back and forth between the warehouse, van drivers can fit everything they need for the day inside the van. This allows you to visit more customers throughout the day. You will also be able to store additional supplies and tools inside the van, which can be useful if you recognise another issue when on a job. This leaves customers happy and allows you to fulfil any job as efficiently as possible.
Vans offer something more versatile than a regular car. While many company cars have a restricted amount of space, there is more you can do with a van that can benefit your company. We have already discussed extra space for essential parts and tools, but there is more to it than this.
Vans offer a range of different heights and wheelbases to suit your business needs. You can keep the entire van full of seats for a transport business, or you can remove these seats (leaving just the driver and passenger seats) to keep the back free for cargo or supplies.
If you opt for a van without seats, you have the opportunity to customise the payload area however you like. Installing shelves is a common choice for tradespersons, and you can fix these to the floor to keep them stable. Likewise, pegboards for the walls are ideal for storing and organising tools. Any van can be considered a blank slate, allowing you to customise it to your precise needs and make adjustments as your business evolves and diversifies.
For individuals, especially sole traders, vans also provide a cost-efficient benefit. You don’t need to invest in two vehicles - one for business and one for your personal life. Instead, you can use the van for anything, whether it’s work or taking a trip to the countryside. Depending on how you design the van’s interior (with or without seating), you can offer friends and family a ride, which will cut down on carbon emissions from having multiple vehicles on the road.
Van driving requirements
As much as the benefits of driving vans are appealing, there are requirements that you must consider to be successful.
All vans have a Design Gross Weight found on your VIN plate. This includes your weight, the fuel, any passengers, and the load. Exceeding this weight can be construed as unsafe driving and could land you a £300 fine. Drivers can check their van’s overall weight at any weighbridge to ensure they do not exceed the limits.
Like regular cars, taxation, insurance and an MOT are essential. Drivers must get an MOT after the van is three years old, and there is a £1,000 maximum fine for driving without a valid MOT. Driving insurance is easy to obtain, but the policy will depend on whether you drive a van for personal or commercial reasons. Finally, any vans driven on public roads will be subject to road tax, so stay on top of this to avoid issues.
As with any vehicle, speed limits apply when driving a van. The standard 30 mph rule applies on built-up area roads, such as within cities and towns. Single carriageways have a limit of 50 mph, whereas dual-carriageways limit the van to 60 mph compared to 70 mph for cars. On the motorway, which could be where most of your driving takes place, 70 mph is acceptable unless you are towing a trailer when the limit is reduced to 60 mph.
Van driving safety
Road safety is something you mustn’t forget when driving a van, and there are two key elements to consider.
How many hours can you drive in a day?
All van drivers must adhere to the laws regarding domestic driving hours. These refer to commercial vehicles that do not exceed 3.5 tonnes. When looking at the laws surrounding 3.5 tonne van driving hours, drivers must spend no more than 10 hours driving. This rule about maximum driving hours includes any time you are behind the wheel and the engine is running, whether you are on the road or not, and even if the van is stationary.
Although these are the legal driving hours for van drivers, they are still permitted 11 hours of daily duty. This means you can work for 11 hours, whether delivering parcels, meeting customers, or making repairs, but you must not drive for more than 10 hours.
Drivers should also learn the maximum driving hours per week, which is 56 hours and no more than 90 hours over two consecutive weeks.
Driving a van
When on the road in residential or built-up areas, as well as on the motorway or carriageways, van drivers will need to consider several factors. As van driving is not the same as driving a car, it is important to remember a few golden rules.
- Familiarise yourself with the gears.
- Watch your speed and keep your distance from other vehicles, especially when carrying heavy loads.
- Be careful of the roof height going under low bridges or overhanging obstacles.
- Take care when going around corners and roundabouts.
- Secure the van’s contents
- Be aware of your blind spots.
- Don’t try to squeeze into tight parking spaces.
Much of this will come with experience, but the sooner you familiarise yourself with how the van works, the more confident you will feel.
Driving a van comes with many benefits for both personal and commercial demands. If your business requires plenty of driving, such as visiting several customers and clients throughout the day, you can make your journeys more efficient, as you do not need to revisit the warehouse to pick up extra supplies. Of course, there are always legal considerations you must remember, but as long as you understand the laws around owning and driving a van, you will find plenty of success.