Professional drivers have a duty to follow safe driving practices, specifically van drivers. In London alone, it’s estimated that 10% of all road traffic accidents involve vans. To mitigate this, Transport for London backs a program called Van Smart, which aims to create long-term behavioural change in the van sector.
Van-related accidents can occur due to poorly maintained vehicles breaking down, poor driving skills, overloaded vehicles and more.
This article will summarise and breakdown the driver handbook and the road safety guidelines it sets forth.
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1. Prepare Yourself
You should be fit to drive and know the basics of road safety before getting behind the wheel. The driver handbook recommends:
- Know your company road safety policy as well as the Highway Code
- Have the right driving license
- Know your vehicle
- Know the drunk and drug driving laws
- Get plenty of sleep on the road and remain fit to drive
- Understand the rules regarding drivers’ hours and breaks
The most important thing is to keep informed and continue to read the rest of our summary of the driver handbook!
2. Check Your Vehicle
Failing to properly check your vehicle before getting on the road could result in an accident, costly repairs or worse. You should inspect your vehicle every day, or just before driving it. Here’s an overview from the driver handbook on how you should be checking your vehicle:
- Perform a walkaround check every day
- Use supplementary or enhanced safety equipment when needed
- Make sure thieves don’t target your vehicle (i.e. remove the key from the ignition, use an anti-theft device or fleet tracker, don’t pick up unauthorised passengers and so on).
- Use good loading and stacking practices
3. Plan Your Journey
Planning your routes ahead of time will help reduce a vehicle’s mileage and fuel consumption and allow you to drive more calmly and efficiently. Using a fleet tracker like Fleet Geo makes optimising routes easier and will save fleet managers time and money. When planning a journey, remember to do the following:
- Avoid congested areas
- Adhere to legal loading and unloading practices
- Practice fuel efficient driving practices (i.e. avoid idling and abrupt braking)
- Keep accurate records of your routes and mileage
4. Stick to the Basics
There’s no need to overthink when you’re on the road. The Van Smart driver handbook says to “keep it simple, keep it safe, keep it legal.” Basic road safety runs to abide by are:
- Observe the speed limits
- Keep yourself and your passengers safe
- Use mobile phones safely
- Eliminate distractions
- Never tailgate
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5. Consider Others
One of the primary ways you can keep the road a safe place is to consider others while driving, particularly vulnerable road users. When you use aggressive driving practices, you could potentially cause an accident or scare others on the road.
Some vulnerable road users to look out for include:
- Pedestrians (especially children and the elderly)
- Horse riders
6. Act Professionally and Read the Driver Handbook
As a professional driver, you have the ability to lead by example and encourage safe driving practices. Always remember the following:
- Demonstrate professional and courteous driving behaviour
- Follow reporting and delivery procedures
- Carry the correct paperwork when making a delivery or collection
- Practice defensive driving to spot and prevent hazards on the road
- Follow your company’s procedures if a collision or breakdown occurs
Read more: How to navigate HGV driving hours
Driver handbook: How Else Can You Keep the Road Safe?
Drivers and fleet managers dedicated to practicing safe driving and keeping van-related accidents and breakdowns to a minimum should consider installing fleet trackers in their vehicles. Fleet trackers like Fleet Geo make it easier to plan routes, identify vehicle misuse and poor driving behaviour and build up a safer, more efficient fleet.
Get in touch with Vimcar to learn more about how Fleet Geo fits in with the safe driving practices outlined in the Van Smart driver handbook.
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