With most of us rushed off our feet, juggling work and family, the idea of doing a big ‘spring clean’ at home seems like an old-fashioned idea. But what about your van? Professional drivers often spend as much time in the cab as they do in their living room, so making sure your vehicle interior is safe and well organised is a worthwhile job. If you’re an employer, it’s even more important. Legally, a van is viewed as a ‘workplace’ and you have professional obligations to keep it safe. So here are some simple measures you can take to spring clean your vehicle:
Start by clearing out the cab. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t be using your phone while driving, but what about other items that can cause a distraction or block your vision? Check the radio and the cab controls all function properly. Tidy away food and snacks. It’s not illegal to eat and drive at the same time. However, if you present a significant danger the police could prosecute you for careless driving, if they think you’re not in proper control of the vehicle. The same goes for cigarettes. It’s not illegal to smoke while you’re driving, but opening a packet and lighting-up takes your attention off the road.
Look at the windscreen and side windows. Is there anything that’s blocking your vision? Sat navs should be in a fixed position, either on the windscreen or dashboard, but the dashboard is far better because that doesn’t block your view. Don’t pile-up delivery notes, directions, maps and other bits of paper on the dashboard, where they can also block vision or slide off and distract you. You can’t read them while you’re driving, so it’s better to keep them in the door pockets or even better the glove compartment.
Now take a look in the back of your vehicle. Do you and everyone who drives the van know its safe maximum load? Driving an overloaded van is not only extremely dangerous, but if stopped, the driver is risking a fine or in the worst cases a prosecution for dangerous driving. Badly loaded vans can also be unstable, meaning steering and braking are less effective.
In an accident, loose items from the back of your vehicle have the potential to move sharply hurting the driver, passengers and other road users. There are a variety of ways to safely secure a cargo in the back of a van including, partitioning systems, racking and shelving, lashing, netting and anchor points. If you’re not currently using any of these then frankly you’re being reckless with your life and other people’s. Ideally everything in the back of a van should be securely fixed, at the very least with rope or bungee cords.
Even with the right storage equipment, it’s easy to get lax about securing everything safely. It’s estimated in a 50 mile per hour crash, a single loose bottle of water can strike a driver with the force of a 21-pound object – that’s the same as a small suitcase being thrown at the back of your head. Imagine the damage tools such as spanners and hammers can do.
So, tidy up the back of your van. Make sure all your packages and tools can be secured safely and however busy you are, don’t ever leave those last few bits and pieces on the floor.