Health and safety, it often elicits a groan from all corners of a business (except, perhaps, the Health and Safety Officers!). However, it’s essential to keeping yourself and your equipment safe. Keeping yourself safe is a no-brainer, and keeping your equipment and vehicle safe will stop your business grinding to a standstill. So, it might not be the most exciting of activities, but keeping your van safe will pay off in the long run.
Safety features in your van
Modern vans come with many different safety features, from ABS and airbags to stability control. However, many van owners aren’t fully aware of all the safety features their vehicle has. It’s worth swotting up on these so you can use them to maximum effect. If you’re not the person who’ll be driving your van, make sure your drivers are fully aware of the safety features as well.
Loading your van
How you load your van can have a huge impact on how safe it is to drive. Firstly, make sure you don’t exceed the maximum load of your vehicle. You’ll find this information on your vehicle’s VIN plate. You’re looking for the number detailed as the gross vehicle weight. That doesn’t just include your load, but also any passengers, the driver weight and how full your fuel tank is.
You should also ensure that your load has a level weight. That means it’s putting the same pressure on your front axle as your rear one. Your heaviest items should be loaded first and in between the front and rear axles. This distributes the load more evenly and also helps your van’s centre of gravity. This, in turn, makes the handling of your vehicle safer.
Ensure everything loaded in your vehicle is secured down. The last thing you want is for items to be flying around your van if you have to brake suddenly. A moving load will make your van unstable, damage other goods or even hit your driver.
Slow and steady wins the race
We’re sorry to be the bearers of bad news, but when you’re carrying a heavy load in your van, take it slow. There’s a time for Fast and Furious style racing, but driving a van isn’t it. Keep sudden braking or tight turns to a minimum. Also be mindful that some different speed limits apply to vans.
There’s going to be some times when you’re going to need to leave your van overnight. Luckily, there are ways to help prevent break-ins overnight. Most modern vans will have an alarm system, but if you’re looking for something heftier, consider getting a steering wheel lock, locking wheel bolts and lock shields. If you’re really concerned about your vehicle, look at getting a tracker. These can be pricey and will require ongoing costs to the company that tracks your vehicle. However, it does usually reduce your insurance premium.
Consider getting one of those ‘No tools kept in this vehicle overnight’ stickers. They might look a bit cheap, but they will make a thief think twice about bothering to break into your vehicle.
If you do have to park up somewhere overnight, make sure it’s in a well-lit and busy area. If you’ve got access to a secure garage, lucky you! Use it. If you’ve got off-road parking, consider getting some big iron gates with a lock to keep your vehicle secure overnight.
Vans are an essential part of many working lives. Knowing how to drive them safely and keep them secure is an important part of every van owner’s role. There’s nothing worse than having an accident or having your van stolen, especially when it stops your business from running for a little while. So save yourself the bother and invest some time and money into making your vehicle safe now – instead of regretting it in the future.