A First Timer’s Guide to Driving a Van


If you’re contemplating doing your own house move then you’ll almost certainly need to borrow or hire a van. This can be a bit scary if your only previous driving experience is with cars, so we’ve put together some helpful advice for van driving newbies.

The first thing to understand is what type of vehicle you’re allowed to drive. Generally speaking Transit-sized vans can be driven on a car licence. If you passed your test before January 1997 you’re also entitled to drive ‘C1’ vehicles which are small lorries up to 7.5 tonnes in weight. There’s a useful tool on the .gov.uk website to help you work out what you’re licensed for.

When you pick up your van take a little time to acclimatize yourself. A reputable rental company like National Van Hire will have someone take you through the controls if you ask. Before you drive off adjust the seat and mirrors so that you’re comfortable and have a good view.

You’ll need to get used to the fact that the van is bigger than your car, this affects the size of gap you can squeeze through and also how much room you need to maneuver. Make sure you know how tall the vehicle is too, especially if renting a box-type van, so you don’t fall foul of any height restrictions.

When it comes to driving bear in mind that a van is heavy and will take longer to slow down and stop. Look well ahead so that you can anticipate any hazards. You’ll also need to take corners more slowly than you might when driving a car. It’s important to be aware that different speed limits apply to larger vans, once again you can check the government website to find out what they are.

Vans don’t usually have an interior mirror so you’ll have to adapt to using the door mirrors more. This means there’s a blind spot behind the vehicle so you need to take extra care to watch what’s around you. Take extra care when reversing, if you’re in doubt ask your passenger to get out and help you.

When reversing or parking a van take things slowly so that you have plenty of time to react. Also remember to allow enough space to open the doors for loading and unloading. Speaking of loading, make sure you pack things carefully so that they don’t slide around, you can get useful loading tips at eHow.

All of this may sound daunting, but provided you take some time to acclimatize you should find driving a van is really not as hard as you think.

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