What To Do If Your Van Breaks Down While Driving
Many van drivers spend lots of time on motorways and dual carriageways as part of their job. Having any driver van insurance means that any member of your team can drive the van and so it's a good idea to make sure everyone who drives your van can stay safe in some of the most frequent emergencies.
Knowing what to do if your van has a problem while driving on the motorway or dual carriageway is really important. Here's our van breakdown guide.
Don't ignore a warning light
When a warning light comes on, it's important not to panic, but not to ignore it either. Many of us are unlikely to know the meaning of every warning light that comes on in our vans, so it's always a good idea to stop as soon as it's safe to do so, so you can check out what the light means and what you need to do.
If you feel there is a problem with your van while you are driving, for instance brake issues, loss of power steering, deceleration, or unresponsiveness, you need to get your vehicle off the road as safely and quickly as you can. If possible, drive to the next exit, service station or designated Parking spot.
If this is not possible, follow the advice of the Highways England commercial and "Go Left". To do this safely, you should stay calm and do the following:
- Put your left indicator on.
- Using your mirrors, move safely into the left lane.
- Move steadily across to the emergency area, hard shoulder or verge if it is safe to do so.
- Put your hazard warning lights on.
- Exit your vehicle through the left-hand door and keep away from moving traffic – stay behind the safety barrier if there is one.
- Call Highways England then your breakdown assistance provider.
If you have stopped in live traffic
If your van has broken down in a live lane of traffic and you can't get to a safe place, you should:
- Stay in your vehicle – keep your seatbelt fastened.
- Put your hazard warning lights on.
- Dial 999 immediately.
Put the right phone numbers in your phone now
If you can't get to an emergency phone on the side of a motorway you can call Highways England on 0300 123 5000 for help and guidance. Put the number in your phone now.
If your van or company has breakdown assistance (all iVan policies come with free RAC breakdown cover) it's a good idea to have that phone number in your phone as well.
Make a clear assessment of the situation
Although breaking down in traffic can be daunting, you may need to make a quick and clear assessment of the situation:
- If you have broken down while on a journey and can't reach a hard shoulder or safely get to an exit, you may decide it's safer to get out of your car and find a place to stand out of the way of oncoming vehicles. Depending on where your van has stopped you should always exit the vehicle through a door which does not open out into a lane of traffic, if at all possible. Look around carefully before you exit your vehicle.
- The guidance for other drivers is not to stop to help other vehicles as this creates another hazard. So do not attempt to flag down another driver. You should ring Highways England and your breakdown assistance provider as soon as it is safe to do so.
- Only use an emergency area or hard shoulder if it is a genuine emergency. If your van is driveable, you should attempt to get to the next exit, service station, or designated parking area.
- Do not attempt to carry out repairs on the hard shoulder as you and your vehicle may be hit by oncoming traffic.
Have the right van insurance
All iVan van insurance policies, including any driver van insurance, come with free RAC breakdown cover, so you'll always be only one phonecall away from help in the event of a breakdown while on the road.
Get a quote today.
Need a new van? Should you buy or lease?
Here we take a quick look at the pros and cons of buying or leasing a new van:
Buying a van – the pros:
- When you buy the van outright, it becomes a business asset and can add value to your business.
- No monthly instalments to worry about.
- It can be sold if you need capital.
- You don't have to worry about keeping the van in a particular condition.
- You can drive as much as you want as there won't be any mileage constraints.
Buying a van – the cons:
- Finding a lump sum to buy a suitable commercial vehicle can be difficult, particularly as a start-up.
- You may have to opt for a second-hand vehicle.
- Depreciation means you won't get back what you paid for the van, if you need to sell it.
Leasing a van – the pros:
- You can have a brand new van for a fixed monthly cost.
- You get a new van every few years (usually 2 – 3 years).
- No depreciation.
- You may be able to add a maintenance plan to your monthly instalment so you don't have to worry about emergency repair costs.
- You may be able to add special van insurance products to your leasing plan, such as scratch repair and wheel damage cover.
- Monthly lease payments can be claimed as a tax-deductible expense for VAT registered businesses.
Leasing a van – the cons:
- You don't own the commercial vehicle, it goes back to the lease company at the end of your leasing agreement.
- There may be a restriction on the number of miles you can drive during the lease agreement. High mileage might increase the monthly payment you have to make.
- There may be penalties for returning a leased van in poor condition.
Van insurance considerations
Whether you lease or buy your van, one factor to consider will be the van insurance requirements.
Commercial vehicle leases will require comprehensive insurance as standard (although, as a van insurance company, we would always recommend comprehensive insurance as preferable if you can afford it.)
The price you pay for your van insurance, whether you lease or buy, will depend on a number of standard factors such as the age of the vehicle, the base value of the van, repair costs, and other factors such as whether you require any driver van insurance, under-25 van insurance or whether you wish to insure the vehicle under a fleet van insurance policy.
As with all van insurance deals, research is key, so our advice when deciding whether to lease or buy a van, is to add the insurance costs as a factor to explore.
Van Driver News - Crackdown on Dangerous Loads
Committing a motoring offence can put your ability to get cheap van insurance under threat.
It's a common misconception that the offence of 'dangerous driving' is solely about the physical act of driving, but this is not the case. A badly loaded van can be a danger to other road users and, therefore, the driver of a van which has been loaded incorrectly can be charged with dangerous driving.
Police monitoring in the North
The recent crackdown on dangerous drivers carried out by the Humberside Police Roads Policing Unit paid particular attention to van drivers and their loads.
During the two weeks of Operation Brigantia, more than 250 drivers were found to have committed loading offences.
Inspector Tony Tinsley said that although many of the van drivers stopped during the operation had been fully compliant with the Road Traffic Act 1988, "there were many who chose to travel without sufficient measures in place to ensure their vehicles were contained, some of which could have had catastrophic consequences".
Among the offences discovered during Operation Brigantia were an unsecured load of flammable liquid – a number of plastic canisters were being carried loose on a pallet inside a van – and a flat-bed van piled high with various scrap items on top of which was a precariously balanced car held on by two straps.
Dangerous loads also include overloaded vehicles which can cause braking and handling problems and once again can prove to be a danger to other road users.
Safe van drivers across the UK
A spokesperson for Highways England acknowledged that the majority of commercial vehicle users in the UK are "sensible and safe" behind the wheels of their vans, but there are a dangerous few who put themselves and others at risk by breaking the law.
Inspector Tinsley reiterated that Operation Brigantia was part of a wider programme which is primarily concerned with educating commercial vehicle drivers about road and vehicle safety. However, where motoring offences are discovered, fines and punishments will be issued.
Points mean more expensive van insurance
For commercial vehicle drivers, getting a good deal on van insurance is always a priority; whether that's fleet van insurance, any driver van insurance or single driver cover for one small van – when a motoring offence is committed, this will always make the price of van insurance more expensive.
iVan can help commercial vehicle drivers get a great deal on their van insurance. Get a quote today by clicking on the big orange button.
* Image: Highways Agency
Top van stats of 2021 (and some not so important info)
Van driver stats come in all shapes and sizes, but some of the latest (polled in February 2021 and commissioned by Lombard Vehicle Solutions) give us a strange insight.
For instance, 14% of the 500 van driving adults questioned rated David Attenborough's Blue Planet II as enthralling, while 10% cited Downton Abbey as their favourite TV Show.
One in four van drivers said they followed a vegan or vegetarian diet and 44% took offense at the notion that "van drivers" have a poor diet.
Perhaps more interestingly, the poll also showed that each year the average van driver will cover 16,000 miles in a van, spend 702 hours driving and consume 728 hot drinks at the wheel (while stationary, we hope).
The environmentally friendly van driver
The survey asked van drivers for their opinions on electric vans and the answers provided some interesting statistics about electric vans and the potential barriers to uptake:
- 38% of van drivers believe there are not enough charging facilities to fuel electric vans on the job
- 43% of van drivers are concerned about the range of electric vans
- 47% of van drivers have concerns about the high initial outlay of electric vans
- 40% of van drivers would consider buying an electric vehicle when they need to replace their current van
- 3 in 5 van drivers say the availability of electric vehicle grants might make them switch
However, with recent news that fuel prices are now at their highest levels for three years, electric vans may become more attractive as van drivers weigh up the benefits against the barriers.
Van insurance statistics
In May 2021, the Insurance Times said that the price of van insurance premiums had fallen by 2% since March 2020. There has been a 5.5 % drop in premiums for van drivers who us their van under a social, domestic and pleasure (SDP) policy, while van drivers using their vans solely for business saw a 0.9% drop in their premium prices.
The average policy price for a UK van driver is now £1,055 (£1,010 for SDP users and £1,070 for business use policies).
Policy prices for electric vans have largely appeared to be higher than for their diesel and petrol counterparts, however, as historic van insurance data builds and more insurance providers start to sell cover for electric vans, it's hoped that premiums will start to fall. As with most new technology it takes a while before prices for the related infrastructure stabilise and begin to show parity with the mainstream.
How to find cheap van insurance
Whether you're looking for any driver van insurance for an electric van, young driver van insurance for a diesel model or whether you need business use only cover or SDP insurance, the best advice for buyers is to shop around.
At iVan we can take the strain for you by automatically providing the most suitable insurance for your needs that we can find, at the best price. We are van insurance specialists and understand the needs of tradespeople who rely on their vans.
Talk to iVan today to get the cheap van insurance that's right for you (and we definitely won't ask you if you think Downton Abbey is great!)
Highways England New Van Driver Toolkits
Highways England's Commercial Vehicle Incident Prevention team has, for many years, directed its primary attention on the truck sector rather than light commercial vehicles. After all, HGV crashes are the ones that make headlines, cause major problems for road users, and typically involve multiple casualties.
However, as the van sector increases more focus is going to be put on van fleets and van drivers.
Prevention of van accidents is top of the list
Mark Cartwright, head of the Commercial Vehicle Incident Prevention team, says in an interview with Van User that the team wishes to focus on accident prevention rather than on enforcement. The team believes driver education for businesses and their van users is key as issues such as bad driving and overloading can be prevented.
As part of the initiative, the Highway's England Driving for Better Business brand has developed a series of Van Driver Toolkits on more than 30 topics including vehicle awareness, driver hours, speed limits and vehicle roadworthiness.
These free resources are available to all businesses; from those with large fleets to SMEs with only one or two van drivers.
Highways England is also promoting van driver wellbeing with resources assisted by CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably); including CALMDriver graphics, videos and leaflets to reinforce the importance of the driver's health as well as the health of the vehicle they are driving.
Enforcement is still key
While Cartwright states that van accident prevention is crucial, he acknowledges that enforcement will still play a fundamental role in Highways England's van-related strategies on the UK's roads.
In May and November, as part of Operations Vertebrae and Orbital respectively, the Highways England DAF tractor units will be loaned to police working on the M6 to act as elevated observation platforms so that officers can see into truck and van cabs more easily and take the kinds of high definition video that will assist them in prosecuting offenders.
Cartwright says that the trucks are not working covertly, their use is well-publicised, and the most common offences caught during such operations are drivers failing to wear seatbelts, and the use of mobile phones and other devices while driving.
Good van driving has lots of benefits
As well as keeping van drivers out of the hands of the law, good van driving habits have other benefits as well. For instance, it helps to keep any driver van insurance costs as low as possible, and reduces overheads associated with bad driving and overloading of vans such as increased tyre ware, axle and suspension damage and increased fuel costs.
If finding cheap van insurance is an important factor for your business, why not try iVan to see if we can reduce the cost of your cover.
Information on the Van Driver Toolkits and CALMDriver initiative are available at: