New van drivers have been offered seven tips on how to properly load their vehicles without breaking any rules or regulations.
Vehicle leasing experts at English company Leasevan.co.uk have revealed advice on the best loading and unloading techniques to help maximise space and reduce the risk of damaged goods.
Common sense goes a long way, but transporting goods safely by van requires a little more thought than simply throwing everything in and hoping for the best.
According to the Road Traffic Act, a person could actually be guilty of an offence if they use a motor vehicle on the road when the weight, position, or distribution of its load could be a risk or danger to someone.
Tim Alcock from Leasevan.co.uk commented: “Loading goods and transporting them safely shouldn’t have to feel like a game of Tetris or Jenga.
“Not only can a proper loading and unloading technique help you maximise space and reduce the risk of damaging goods during a move, but it’s also a legal requirement.”
Load large items first
Loading bulky items first will allow you to fit all your smaller items around them later, helping you make the most efficient use of your space. As large items are also likely the heaviest items, it’s also a good way to prevent damaging fragile items by crushing them. Heavy items should also be distributed evenly across the floor surface of your van, ideally across areas that are most structurally sound.
Distribute the load evenly
Always load items in rows from the back to the front of the van space and utilise all space under and inside items to help restrict the movement of small items. You must be careful not to stack your load too high though, and do not exceed your van’s load capacity – it’s set for a reason and is the driver’s responsibility to make sure it’s road legal at all times.
Create a barrier
Even if your load is secured, there’s always a risk that items might move about on the road. In case they do, you need to protect yourself from being hit by any items that could come flying your way when you’re driving. Mesh, netting or a sturdy piece of plywood can be used to prevent this.
Secure your goods
Cargo can slide around during the journey, which can be safety concern when it comes to unloading if items have piled up against the doors, or are stacked precariously. Protect fragile and delicate items with moving blankets. Use anchoring points within the van and lashing/tensioning straps to tie items down.
Although it’s generally advised that you should avoid having anything protruding from the back of your vehicle, if a load must hang off the back of your van, ensure its carefully secured and made visible by fixing high-vis materials to the most protruding points. Likewise, if you’re carrying a particularly heavy or fragile load that requires you to drive more slowly, it can be helpful to indicate this to other drivers.
Control your speed and braking
Regardless of the load you’re carrying, driving a van full of goods is different from driving your average family car because if you accelerate too quickly or brake too harshly, items can move about inside. Van drivers must also be aware of the impact a heavy load has on steering, as a heavy load can have the momentum to turn your vehicle more or less than usual.
Make sure you unload your van in an area free from traffic or other obstructions so you can take your time. Choose a flat surface, or place brake chocks under the wheels to secure the vehicle if on an incline. Make sure you move items carefully so as not to disturb others than might fall and break. Always make sure to wear gloves too.