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Van Advice - Part 1

Part1 of Cool Van Man’s advice looks at driving license, security, road tax and driver wellbeing

Driving License

It may be obvious to many drivers/operators, however for the record the 3.5-tonne maximum Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) – or its fully laden weight - is an important landmark in the van world .

Anyone with a Category B (car) license can drive a can up to this weight, and if you passed before 01/01/1997 (like some of us) then you can drive a van up 7.5-tonne GVW.

However, if you passed after 01/01/1997 you’ll need to gain the Category C1 license to drive 7.5-tonners and also complete a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) – from September 2009 for new drivers and before 2014 for existing Cat C1 holders. Got it? Good.


Moving on, it may have come to your attention that vans are hot property to some, who see them as stores of high-value equipment (particularly true in the RAC trade), or they may just like the van itself.

In fact 47,000 vans are stolen each year, but by taking simple steps you can guard against any unwanted scenarios when you return to your stead in the morning.

Besides the obvious ‘lock the doors and don’t leave your windows down’, an anti-theft device will make thief think twice, and so will a super-duper retro-fit lock on the load area doors - crooks are simple creatures who don’t like anything complicated or time consuming.


Never a happy subject, however, it’s worth noting that you will have to pay tax on a company van that’s been made available to you for private use, other than journeys between work and home. However, the annual visit to the tip to dump your Christmas presents is allowed

Driver Wellbeing

It may be the equivalent of having to change the television manually, however taking time to adjust for a correct driving position will reap rewards in the long-term, or at least having you walking normally. So follow these points:

·         Ensure the headrest height is level with the rear of your head

·         The seat should be far enough from the pedals to allow a slight leg bend forward

·         Though it may feel a little strange, having the backrest near vertical will save that spine, distributing weight down to the base – you’ll appreciate this at the end of the day

·         A tilt/reach steering wheel helps you further refine. Allow the arms to have a degree of bend so you can turn the saucer 45 degrees without losing grip.

·         And after all this is done, adjust the mirrors so you can see down both sides of the vehicle and onto the road/pavement next to you.

Load carrying

“In 2007, out of 6,050 vans weighed, more than 55 per cent were overloaded,” Vehicle and Operator Services Agency.

Of course we’re not talking about you. However once you’ve loaded your tools, equipment, replacement widgets, lunch, Racing Post, air-freshener and yourself, the sum total may be more than you think. So:

·         Understand the load you are carrying and the hazards associated with it

·         Spread the load to give an even distribution weight over the whole area

·         Place heavier items nearer to the centre line of the vehicle and lighter items towards the sides

·         Secure loads using clamps, bolts, steel wires and ropes, webbing or harnesses

For the record, kerb weight is the vehicle’s unladen weight. Payload is the total weight the vehicle is allowed to carry, usually including driver rated at 75kg. And Gross Vehicle Weight is the maximum weight of the vehicle (combining kerb weight and payload). Simple

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