This includes taking time before you start to become familiar with the controls and how high it is. Then starting out slow to learn how a van drives. You will also need to take into account the blind spots it has and, the risks of overloading the van which makes driving it more difficult.
Though driving a van isn’t always all that complicated, it can be more difficult than driving something smaller like a car. This is because vans are larger and are made differently, giving them a different feel when driving.
There are also additional skills that you will need to acquire to become a safe van driver. Such as being aware of the size of your van and how it acts on the road with other vehicles.
Get Familiar With it
Every van that you drive is going to be slightly different from a standard model of car. Vans are not only larger, but often have slightly different gear systems which may take some getting used to.
Before you head out onto the freeway or for a road trip, it is important to first familiarize yourself with the vehicle. You never want to head out without first checking over how the van functions.
It can be very unsafe for a driver to start to use their vehicle before first familiarizing themselves with it. Just a simple look-over or a short drive through a parking lot is always a good idea.
If you can practice using someone else’s van before purchasing your own, that would be even better.
Just doing these simple things can protect you as well as other drivers on the road. Every responsible driver should be familiar with the vehicle that they are driving.
Be Careful of Speed
It’s easy to get distracted or have your head in the clouds while driving, often resulting in driving a little over the speed limit. While this is always a bad idea, it is especially bad to do when you are driving a van.
A van is larger and heavier, making the process of braking a longer one that won’t just happen immediately. This means that you will need to brake sooner than you would in a car to allow the van to come to a complete stop.
This is important to remember when driving a van in order to prevent accidents or having to slam on your brakes. This can result in an injury as well as wear on your van and aging your brakes that much faster.
Because vans are large vehicles, this can make them much more likely to harm people in smaller vehicles, making safety even more important.
You are much more likely to cause extensive damage rear-ending someone while driving a van than you would in a car.
Be Aware of the Height
As a new van driver, you also have to remember that the vehicle you are driving is much taller than an ordinary car. This won’t always be an issue, but you may find it important in some situations.
This is something that you will need to keep in mind if you are driving through a tunnel or under something like a bridge. You will also want to be careful when going to drive-in car washes as well as driving into a garage.
You may have to sometimes get out of your vehicle to check the height just to be safe. The last thing you want to do is scrape the top of your van or worse.
It is a good idea to remember the total height of your van, so that you can be prepared for any situation. Many low-hanging areas will have the height posted somewhere for drivers in tall vehicles.
Take Corners Carefully
Because vans are larger, they are oftentimes much longer than a car is as well. This is often because they have a larger cargo area in the back or additional seats back there.
This added length can make taking turns a little more tricky for the driver unfamiliar with driving a van. You will have to learn how your van takes turns and adopt how you drive accordingly.
Most vans you would use for personal use will not be extremely long or difficult to drive. But they will have some added length that you will want to be aware of.
It is important to be aware of the vehicles around you and how close they are as well as how fast you take the turn.
Never take a turn quickly, especially not in a van, slow down and make sure you are navigating the van around the corner safely.
Beware of Wind Pushing Your Van Sideways
Vans drive similarly to most vehicles and can withstand the elements in much the same way. The only thing to keep in mind is that vans are more vulnerable to heavy winds.
This won’t be an issue on most windy days, but it can become one if the weather is particularly windy. Because vans are larger and often have a more boxy shape, they are more susceptible to being pushed by the wind.
The wind would have to be extremely bad to actually push your van over, so that isn’t much of a concern for most drivers. It can, however, make it significantly harder to drive as the wind fights against your van.
This can result in you having a hard time controlling your van as well as staying within the lines. If the weather is exceptionally windy, you may want to consider waiting it out or driving another day for safety reasons.
Be Careful With Heavy Loads
Though vans are built with a much higher weight capacity, they can still be weighed down if you are driving with too much in the back. With a car or other smaller vehicle, this would be an issue as they have limited space. But a van can be filled with much more than a smaller vehicle can.
You will want to make sure that you are not weighing your van down too much. In most situations, this won’t be a problem, but it might become one if you are transporting very heavy objects.
You don’t want to weigh your van down as this can cause added pressure on the frame and tires, making the possibility of blowing a tire more likely. It also makes it harder to drive the van as it is much heavier and won’t steer as smoothly.
With too heavy a load, this can become a danger as you are not in as much control of your vehicle as you should be. It can also put a strain on the brakes, making the braking time much longer.
Beware of Blind Spots
One thing that van drivers should also keep in mind is that vans have much wider blind spots. All vehicles have blind spots to some degree but the bigger the vehicle, the more blind spots you will end up having.
Because a van is larger, it has much wider blind spots that might even be able to hide a car that is driving nearby. Especially with cargo vans that only have windows at the back and not on the middle and read sides, these windows can also be obstructed by the cargo you are carrying.
It is important for van drivers to actively use their mirrors to check for any blind spots that could be hiding other vehicles or objects.
Many vans will be equipped with large high-quality side mirrors to help you do this and stay safe on the road.
You will want to be extra careful in areas where there may be bikes or people alongside the road as they are much harder to see. It’s also important to be more cautious when changing lanes or pulling out of areas.
Practice Parking In Empty Areas First
Because vans are naturally larger than cars, they can be significantly harder to park, especially in smaller parking lots. This is something that many van drivers will have to practice and get used to.
It is very easy to damage other vehicles or your own when parking a van as they are wider and cannot fit as snuggly into parking spots. It is a good idea to try to park away from other vehicles until you get the hang of it.
Parallel parking will also be more complicated as you have wider blind spots that can make it harder to see your progress. With a longer vehicle, you may also find it hard to sneak into a parallel parking spot safely.
When you first start to drive a van, it is a good idea to go to an empty parking lot to practice your parking. This is a safe and easy way to get the hang of parking a much larger vehicle.
Most Vans Drive Similarly to a Car
Despite how different vans may seem from cars, many drive very similarly and feel much like cars do. This is especially true for smaller-sized vans that aren’t nearly as long.
Driving a van may, at first, seem very intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Many vans are designed much like cars with similar gears in the front to use for driving.
Minivans, for example, are very similar to cars and drive in much the same way. This makes them one of the easiest vans to get used to as they are even more similar to cars. The main difference is only that they are a bit larger with more space in the back for seats.
Once you get used to driving a van, you will most likely realize just how easy they really are to drive and how similar they are to cars.
As long as you keep certain safety precautions in mind, driving a van can be just as safe and simple as driving a car.
Because vans are larger and often a bit higher off the ground, they tend to drive smoother and feel less bumpy or noisy. Something that is considered to be a highlight for most drivers.
Vans Can Drive Differently on the Road
Though a van might drive very similar to a car, it does react a bit differently and drive differently on the road.
It may function in much the same way as smaller vehicles, but a van is more powerful and larger, which will make it slightly different. As a van owner, it is important for you to be aware of this and take the necessary safety precautions.
The size of vans is the driving factor behind what makes them handle a bit differently on the road. This size difference can make them a bit harder to control, which is why it is so important for someone driving a van to be aware of the vehicles around them.
A van will also not be able to stop as quickly as some other vehicles can, making it vital that you stay aware of your surroundings. You will need to begin braking much sooner than you need to in a car.
Turning the van will also be a bit more complicated and require more coordination as well as better control of the vehicle. You will want to be aware of the vehicles around you and just how close they are as you turn since vans are longer.
Taking into account your blind spots is also important in preventing any accidents on the road when driving a van. Vans have larger blind spots, so you will have to be more aware of that and stay vigilant.
At the end of the day, a van is a large vehicle and can do a lot of damage if not driven safely. This is why it is so important for van drivers to stay responsible and aware.
Practice Driving a Van Before Buying One
If you want to buy a van but have never driven one before, practice is an absolute necessity for you to make that purchase.
Preferably it would be better if you could test out driving a van before ever buying one. This could be done by borrowing a van from someone you know, but this isn’t always possible.
If you cannot practice driving a van beforehand, you could try getting a trial run in the van that you are considering buying. This will give you a very accurate idea of what exactly you are getting.
It is important to be realistic with yourself and understand the downsides of driving a van. It can be more complicated, and you will need to learn the basics of safely controlling such a large vehicle.
If you do decide to buy a van, you should set aside some time to practice driving it before you need to drive it somewhere. This is best done in an area that is mostly vacated where you can practice safely.
Doing this for at least an hour or two can help you become familiar with how your van drives and how it feels. It will also help you to adjust to certain ways that you need to drive a van, such as baking earlier, turning more carefully, and so on.
Every new van owner should do this before officially taking their new van on the road. It will not only help you to be a safer driver, but will make you feel more confident while driving as well.
Vans Aren’t Always Safer Than Cars
The general idea is that vans are safer than cars are to those driving them as well as passengers. This idea mostly came to be since we connect size to safety, assuming that the larger the vehicle, the safer it is.
While this is sometimes true, it isn’t always the case for every vehicle out there.
When it comes to collisions and accidents involving other vehicles, vans are considered to be pretty safe. They are larger and are often a bit higher, protecting passengers from collisions with other vehicles.
Vans are also built to withstand more since they can carry more goods and haul things behind. This can make them more resistant to any impacts, keeping anyone inside much safer.
The only issue is that the size of a van can also work against it and make it less safe than a smaller car. This is because vans are taller and can become unbalanced much more easily. This could result in the van rolling over.
Vans are much more likely to roll over in an accident than a car is, putting people at a greater risk. Vans also do not brake as well or as quickly; if you brake too fast, this could cause your van to roll over or spiral out of control.
Because vans are larger they can be more unsteady and less balanced, making the possibility of accidents slightly greater. This is an important factor to take into account when buying a van.