How to carry goods safely in your van
Transporting goods safely in your van involves a little more thought than just loading them in your van and driving off. Not only is it sensible to evenly distribute and secure your van load correctly, it is also a legal requirement.
The Road Traffic Act states that:
“A person is guilty of an offence if they use…a motor vehicle or trailer on the road when…the weight, position or distribution of its load, or the manner in which it is secured, is such that the use of the motor vehicle or trailer involves a danger of injury to any person”.
What’s more, if you breach these regulations, you may find that your van insurance will not pay for damage or injury caused by your load, so it’s well worth taking the time to get it right.
Loading your van correctly
There is a real art, and indeed science, to loading a van correctly. In fact, the Freight Transport Association guidance runs to no less than 150 pages on the subject. (You can download the full, mind-boggling text here). However, when it comes to safely loading your van, common sense goes a long way.
Here are a few things to consider when loading your van:
- Distribute the load evenly – if you stack everything to one side, or all towards the back for easy access, you will seriously compromise your handling and control of the vehicle. Spread the load evenly across the whole cargo compartment.
- Don’t stack too high – if you make your load tall, you will change the centre of gravity of your van and find it far more difficult to control when cornering.
- Secure your load – use the anchoring points in your van to strap down your load to stop it moving around. This not only prevents damage to the goods themselves, but also avoids it flying around in an accident, causing harm to you and your passengers.
- Create a barrier between you and your load – if your van has an open layout, you should create a barrier to prevent your load entering the driving area in the event of an accident. Mesh or netting, or a sturdy sheet or hardboard can be easily put in place to create a separate compartment.
- Take extra care with external loads – if you need to strap ladders, equipment of materials to the outside of your van, take extra care to ensure that these are properly secured to avoid danger to other road users.
- Do not exceed capacity – it may be tempting to over pack your van to cut transport costs, but this will compromise braking and suspension and put you in serious danger. Check your vehicle’s maximum capacity and do not exceed this.
- Flag it – if you have equipment or materials that hang far off the back of your van make them visible by trying high viz material around them.