Health and Safety News

Occupational health and safety news and guidance

Van road safety

picture shows a man with a check list in front of a commercial vanVan drivers, along with other drivers of commercial vehicles, need to ward off complacency when driving. This is because they are often driving along the same routes day after day, whether travelling between sites or simply driving back and forth from work. When you drive the same route regularly it is easy to get to ‘know the road’, causing you to pay less attention to the route and your driving itself. Commercial vehicle drivers should endeavour to avoid this and must always remember to stay vigilant.

Try to avoid distractions such as fiddling with the air conditioning or the radio, for example. Don’t use your phone unless you have a hands free option and always stick to the speed limit. Following this advice will reduce the likelihood of an accident. It is also well worth remembering that for drivers of commercial vehicles, who need them for a living, involvement in even a minor road traffic incident can lead to a sharp hike in insurance premiums.

In essence, van road safety is not hugely different from car road safety. Having said that, even smaller vans, which are based on conventional car models, are likely to afford less of a clear view when manoeuvring. Many van road safety problems occur when the vehicle is parking, turning into a side street or overtaking.

This means it is vital to remember to use your mirrors when putting the vehicle into reverse. That does not just mean glancing at the rear view mirror, but double checking the manoeuvre is safe with the use of the wing mirrors. If you are in doubt, ask someone to see you in to the space.

Likewise, double check it is safe to turn left into a side street by using your rear view and near side wing mirror. Many cyclists on the near side are clipped by van drivers failing to check their mirrors, especially after they have been queuing in traffic and the cyclist has filtered up unexpectedly.

Similarly, you should check your driver’s side mirror before turning right or overtaking. Double check your blind spot every time by looking over your right shoulder before committing to the manoeuvre. Because of the restricted views compared with cars, commercial drivers need to learn to rely less on their peripheral vision.

Another issue for drivers of commercial vehicles is the additional braking distance required when the truck is loaded up. The extra weight of loading puts more pressure on the brakes and tyres when you need to stop. Obviously, if the cab is open to the rear of the vehicle, make sure that the load cannot fall into the cab or hit you if you need to brake sharply. Tie it down or wedge it in so that it cannot shift around.

You should check the axle configuration of commercial vehicles is suitable for the weight being supported, especially when fully loaded. It is a standard test for MOT mechanics to check that the axle configuration is correct. The load capacity of the axles and the tyres should be marked up at the last inspection. Many commercial vehicles have leaf spring style suspension. If you drive around with heavy loads it is highly beneficial to install leaf springs as it will increase how much load they can safely bear, ensuing the vehicle remains both safe and road legal. Too light a suspension will mean the vehicle dangerously bottoms-out on anything other than flat roads.

The electrical workings of commercial vehicles are often overlooked as a road safety issue. Many types of vehicle are wrongly considered road worthy if they have a minor electrical problem. However, to remain safe to yourself and other road users, make regular checks that your van’s lights are working correctly.

Indicators, reversing lights and brake lights are all important safety features, particularly in vehicles that offer the driver less clear lines of sight. Before driving in wintry conditions it is also worth checking that the heating system is working fully, so that you can continue to drive for extended periods comfortably and therefore safely.

Written by UK Aftermarket Springs – the UK’s leading leaf spring experts.

Go Back