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Driving a Van for the First Time

Posted on by Whitgift Hire Team


If it’s your first time driving a van you may feel a little in the dark and very hesitant to get going, and this is something we often find with first time hirers of vans. Therefore, in this month’s article, we’ll be talking you through the things you need to know about van hire when it comes to the nitty gritty and pulling off so you can be as safe as possible on the road.


Safety First

It may sound a little silly for us to point it out, but vans are bigger than cars. They are taller, wider, and heavier than what you are most likely used to, and therefore require more care and attention to drive. Consequently, it is worthwhile getting to know the vehicle before you get in and drive off into the sunset. This will include locating the headlight switch, the windscreen wipers, and other basic parts of the vehicle.


One of the things you’ll likely notice is that the van doesn’t have a central rearview mirror, and no rear windows for that matter. Instead, when driving a van you’ll have to rely on your larger wing mirrors to gauge what’s going on behind you. Likewise, because the van is bigger than a car and is a more dangerous vehicle on the road if handled incorrectly, you will need to be looking in your wing mirrors more often than when you’re in your car. Adjust the mirrors and your seating appropriately so that you can drive comfortably and be aware of your surroundings.

Something else you need to be aware of is that vans are generally slower to stop than cars, and as such have lower speed limits to complement this. The speed limit for vans on the motorway is 70mph, 60mph on dual carriageways, 50mph on country roads and 30mph in built-up areas.

Similarly, vans are less stable than cars when cornering; you’ll need to get used to planning further ahead the maneuvers you will have to make down the road to accommodate the longer braking times and reduced cornering capabilities.

Finally, you will also need to ensure that you have loaded the van correctly so that no loose items may start banging around while you’re driving, or, worse, come barrelling through into the front if you brake sharply.


Everybody bodges it when parking from time to time, but that doesn’t have to be the case the first time you drive a van simply because it’s your first time. The key to success when parking a van is taking your time, as with any parking. If you can, practice parking the van in an area where you are unlikely to hit anything or damage the van, but if not then just be patient. The larger wing mirrors will prove indispensable to you in this.

Another thing when it comes to parking is bearing in mind that due to the larger chassis of the van it will be unlikely that it will fit in conventional car parks, those where a height and width limit are enforced. This can pose a hindrance to some, but in general due to the purposes you have when driving your van it will be unnecessary for you to use these kind of car parks anyway.


Whitgift Hire

With over 30 years of experience in the industry, Whitgift Hire are second-to-none when it comes to van, car, and lorry hire throughout London and the South East of England. We have a fleet of over 400 well-maintained vehicles available for hire that cater to any requirement you may have across commercial and domestic fields.

We are fully certified and accredited and offer a comprehensive breakdown cover for hires to ensure that when you hire from us you’re always in the safest hands. To discuss hiring a vehicle from Whitgift Hire, contact our friendly team today!

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