What are the Driving License Requirements For Driving a Van?
No matter how long ago you passed your driving test, there’s a chance that you may never have driven a van before, so it’s entirely natural to wonder, when faced with the prospect of driving a vehicle which seems entirely different to what you’re used to, what the experience will be like and more specifically, whether you’re allowed to do it at all without additional training. At Priory, we often get asked these and similar questions by our car and van hire customers and we’re happy to provide information and reassurance to our lovely customers.
What skills do I need to drive a van?
First of all, don’t worry about needing extra training to successfully pilot a van, if you can drive a car confidently and safely, you already have all the skills you need to drive a van. Modern vans, while being, necessarily, larger than cars, are fairly similar when it comes to their driving experience. Typically they’ll have five or six forward gears and quite often, all the controls are laid out in a similar way to the cars made by the van manufacturer. (You’ll find Ford Transit dashboards and controls strikingly similar to Ford Mondeo’s of a similar age). The driving position, however, is far better than that found in a typical car and the wing mirrors are much larger too, more than compensating for the absence of a rear view mirror. As you sit head and shoulders above the rest of the traffic, you’ll find you have an excellent view of the road ahead.
There are some other things you’ll need to bear in mind when driving a van. First of all, the gearing. The ratios in a van’s gearbox are set up for power rather than speed. Accelerating away from traffic lights at a breakneck pace is less important than being able to climb a steep incline when fully laden, so don’t expect high rev’s or impressive 0-60 times. On the subject of payload, make sure you’re aware of the weight of your cargo and the safe load capacity of the van. If the back wheels are disappearing into the wheel arches, chances are that the van is overloaded – you may need a larger van or to take more than one trip. Also be aware that crosswinds and slipstreams will affect a van far more than your car, so be ready for them.
Does my driving licence allow van driving?
The question of whether or not you can drive a van on your licence isn’t as straightforward as a yes or no answer. A short answer would be ‘probably’, but for a more definitive guide, you’ll need to bear in mind the categories shown on your own driving license and the type of van you’re intending to drive.
For a regular van, a standard Ford Transit, for example, the permissions which allow you to drive a regular car also allow you to drive regular vans. Everyone with category ‘B’ shown on their driving license can drive a vehicle of up to 3.5 tons. If you passed your driving test prior to January 1997, this weight limit is automatically higher.
Having the C1 category on your driving license shows that you’re able to drive vehicles between 3.5 and 7.5 tons. Older licenses will have this included as standard, but newer licenses don’t. For many of our rental vans, this won’t be an issue, but for the larger vans, such as the Luton’s, where their laden capacity might well exceed your license weight limit if you don’t see ‘C1’ on your license.
It’s worth mentioning about minibus rules while we’re on the subject. The number of passengers you can carry is also dictated by the categories shown on your license. For a start, from January 1997, having category B on your license allows you to drive a vehicle transporting up to 8 passengers, so for our 9 seat minibus, you’ll be perfectly fine, however, you won’t be able to fill our 14 seat minibuses without having category D1 on your driving License, which permits up to 16 passengers.
Often overlooked are the numeric codes shown on the far right of your license which impose additional constraints. Code 01, for example, shows that you need eye correction when driving. Code 101 against a license category show that you can drive that class of vehicle, but cannot do so for hire or reward. In practical terms, this means that you can reasonably spread out the hire and running costs between your passengers, but you mustn’t make a profit from them.
In doubt about your driving licence? Just Ask
As ever, the rules about driving licences and driving are subject to change. While we hope you’ll find the above information useful, we’d advise checking the DVLA website too if you’re in any doubt. If you have any additional questions regarding licence requirements for any of our vans, we’re also happy to answer any queries you might have. Feel free to get in touch and let us give the most up to date advice regarding what you can drive on your license.