Transport Goods Safely
Safely transporting cargo in your van involves a little more thought that just heaving it into the back and scooting off! Not only is it sensible to evenly distribute and secure your van load correctly, it is also a legal requirement.
There are certain rules and regulations; here's an interesting piece from the Road Traffic Act...
'The Road Traffic Act 1991 Introduced provisions into the Road Traffic Act 1988 making new offences, applicable to the state of loads on vehicles. These provisions reflect the seriousness with which the safety of loads on vehicles is now viewed. In the UK every year over 4,000 successful prosecutions for unsafe loads are brought against drivers and operators. Many other incidents involving the loss of loads or part loads go unreported.
The Act states that: A person is also guilty of using a vehicle in a dangerous condition if he/she uses.. a motor vehicle or trailer... or the weight position or distribution of its load, or the manner in which it is secured is such that the use ... involves a danger of injury to any person. The maximum penalty for this offence if committed in respect of a goods vehicle is £5,000, plus 3 penalty points and disqualification.'
If you breach these regulations, you may find that your van insurance will not pay for damage or injury caused by your load.
Common sense goes a long way
Here's are a few things to consider when loading your van:
Distribute the load evenly - don't pile everything on one side or near the doors for easy access, it can seriously affect the stability of the vehicle. Spread the load evenly across the whole cargo space and don't pile stuff too high - the centre of gravity of your van needs to be kept as low as possible - otherwise cornering could be compromised.
Anchoring points: If you've got them, use 'em! They are there for a reason! Strap/secure your cargo, it prevents damaging goods but also avoids stuff hurtling around in case of an accident. Fragile objects won't survive the jostling of an unsecured journey!
If your van does not have a bulkhead, create a barrier to prevent your load entering the driving area in the event of an accident.
Netting or a sturdy sheet of plywood can be easily fixed to create a separate compartment.
We particularly like the Ford Transit Connect which has a metal 'cage' protecting the driver from flying cargos!
One for builder/window cleaners: If you need to strap ladders or other materials to the outside of your van, take extra care to ensure that these are properly secured and make sure they are highly visible to other road users.
Finally... It may be tempting to over-fill your van to save further journeys, but overloading your vehicle will compromise the braking and suspension, make sure you know your vehicle's maximum weight capacity!