Renting a van is beneficial for so many reasons. For most renters, a van provides the extra space required to complete life’s little and big jobs. The majority of our customers use their rental vans to get from A to B for work purposes or move home. But those driving a van for the very first time will certainly notice a difference when compared to driving a car, especially when it comes to performing certain manoeuvres.
In this blog post, we take a closer look at the differences between driving a car and driving a van. We’ll also provide an essential guide to conquering the trickiest of movements in a larger vehicle – the dreaded reverse park.
Driving a car and van – how the two differ
As well as being larger in size, how you drive a van generally differs to how you would drive a car. One of the biggest things that’s likely to throw you is the lack of rear view mirror. The majority of vans have no rear view window and as a result, no central rear view mirror, a fact that means the van’s side mirrors play much more crucial roles. You may have an extra gear to contend with unlike most regular car makes and models too. As you’ll discover however, the sixth forward gear is an excellent addition and will enhance the van driving experience. Use of this sixth gear can save you money on fuel providing a better and more efficient way to travel via motorway.
Due to their larger size, more care must also be taken when negotiating bridges and barriers, with the extra height requiring extra caution when driving. Slower turning times are another factor that requires careful planning when driving a van, especially if the van is loaded. Van drivers therefore have to plan each turn more quickly and slow down significantly to make turns.
Speed limits are lower for vans too. Whilst the speed limit remains the same as cars on motorways (with a maximum speed of 70mph) and built-up areas (where the speed limit remains 30mph), dual carriageways carry speed limits of 60mph for vans. When driving a van on a single carriageway, a maximum speed of 50mph must be adhered to.
Overcoming the reverse parking challenge
Adhering to the aforementioned slower turning times becomes must more of a priority when reverse parking. When reverse parking, remember going slow is always better. If you have a passenger, you may want to call on their directing skills during your first few reverse parking attempts for extra guidance. Many van makes and models come fully equipped with the latest technology, meaning most novice van drivers will have the added benefit of built-in reversing camera technology and parking sensors.
It is important to remember that a van’s braking distance is significantly longer than a car. When reverse parking a van, it’s all in the lining up. Use your side mirrors to find and align with the parking lines on either side. Straighten accordingly, using your mirrors throughout to ensure correct and safe reversing.
Preparing to drive a van for the first time
When driving a van, it helps to remember that the van is slower to stop, longer, wider, heavier and less stable when cornering than a car. Your driving style must take all this into consideration. To ensure you are comfortable and confident driving a van, make sure you get to know your vehicle controls before you hit the road, paying particular attention to its lights, windscreen wipers and gears.
Want to rent a van?
Anyone with a standard, full UK driving licence can drive a van weighing up to 3,500kg. Additional driving tests and experience will be required if you wish to drive larger vans.
If, after reading our guide, you’d like to rent a van for the first time, you’re in the right place! Here at Collison Vehicle Rental, we have the van makes and models you need to get the job done. Whatever your reason for wanting to rent a van, we can provide the right vehicle for you and support you throughout the term of your rental.
Browse our range of rental vehicles on our van hire page. You’ll find everything from small work vans and short wheel base vans to large work vans and extra-long wheel base or Luton sized vans. Unsure about which van is right for you? Contact our dedicated team direct on 023 9225 9322 for further information and expert advice.