Sometimes in life, doesn’t it feel like everything comes crashing down at once? Maybe. But don’t let that happen with your van. Securing your van load is vital for a number of reasons, yet luckily, it’s not as hard as you may think. An accident waiting to happen? Not with our help.
Why is a secure van load important?
Well, firstly it’s a criminal offence to drive with an unsafe load, so don’t do it. Why is it an offence? Because a load that is unsafe due to its weight, position or distribution can be a danger to both yourself and others. And whether you work for yourself or a company, or you’re moving some stuff around for personal use, it’s bad for your rep to fall foul of a load securing blunder.
No one likes having an accident at the best of times, never mind if you could’ve easily prevented it. And especially if you cause a crash, hurt someone, or find yourself getting prosecuted. Even a ticket courtesy of the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) is going to be a pain in the backside. Thousands of road impact accidents are caused every year by things falling from vehicles. And thousands of people are stopped and fined for their unsafe loads. So keep your money in your pocket and follow the rules.
How to secure a van load
From lashings to nets, there are several different ways to get your load all snug and secure. First though, be sure your van is suitable for the load. This includes things like size and weight ratings. All good? Well then, please continue.
Be a woman or a man with a van and a plan
“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.” Whether Benjamin Franklin actually said it or not, this old classic works a treat right here. Planning for your load is key, especially if you have to go out on the road to pick it up. Know the dimensions and weight you need to secure, have the right gear and be able to use it properly.
Get your floor in line
If your van doesn’t already have a floor lining, adding some plywood is a good idea to protect your van while providing you with a nice, flat, non-slip surface. This is a cheap and easy thing to do – you can even get a timber yard to cut some ply to fit the back of your van while you wait.
Load up for the Mystery Tour
Your plan should mean there’s nothing mysterious about your load, and with everything you need satisfaction is guaranteed. Load the largest and bulkiest items first, using your Tetris skills to arrange everything in a safe and compact fashion. Ensure all the heaviest items are on the floor, and place things strategically with access to your side and rear doors in mind. You should also try to balance heavier things across the wheelbase so your van’s not carrying a lot more weight at one particular point.
Use the bulkhead
Whether solid, perforated, wired, or a combination of these, using the partition between the driver’s cab and the load space is always a good idea – especially if you’re transporting large metallic objects. As long as it’s strong enough to stop any movement, this is a great interior surface to use for securing your load. Anchoring big, bulky items to the bulkhead can also cut down on the amount of strapping you need.
Tie yourself up in knots
Well, your load, not yourself. There are many different ways you can tie up your load, including over-the-top lashings, kites, sails and direct lashings to anchor points. Lashing straps are very useful for securing items, while webbing straps and chains are common too. Whatever you do, it’s all about minimising the risk of anything moving. To help with this, tether items to your van in the direction of travel. This will reduce lateral movement in case your load’s shaken or jolted.
Think twice, and it’s another day for you in van paradise
Whichever method you use for securing your van load, ask yourself some simple questions when you think you’re done.
– Is your load unstable?
– Can it slide around?
– Can it topple over?
– Is your securing gear in bad condition?
– Does your van pose a danger to other road users?
If you can answer no to all these questions, you’re probably golden. If not, pay some more attention to your load and get it up to scratch.
Steady as she goes
Once you’re all safely packed up and securely loaded, it’s time to hit the road, Jack. Just don’t hit it too hard though. Use a steady driving style with gentle acceleration, controlled braking and smooth steering. If you can, pick a route you know takes you over even surfaces for an extra layer of protection. And if your load means you’re going to have to drive more like Miss Daisy than Mr Hamilton, why not stick a sign on the back of your van to alert people behind?
Safe for the last dance
All’s well that ends well, yes? So be safe right to the end of your time transporting your load. Choose a suitable place to park, avoiding traffic and hills where possible. Unload your van carefully and be aware of where larger things are going in advance so you don’t cause any obstructions.
When it comes to securing loads correctly and avoiding accidents and mishaps, the devil is in the detail. But a successful journey can be heavenly, keeping you on the right side of the law while protecting yourself and other motorists from harm. The steps are logical and usually straightforward, so follow them and let your common sense come shining through.