Man loading boxes into van

Watch the weight! Vans take longer to stop when loaded

Man loading boxes into a van.

You hire a van to move house and drive it home empty. It seems almost like a car, quick to accelerate and easy to stop.

What you may not be prepared for is how much longer it will take to stop when you’ve loaded it up with the contents of your house.

New research by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles have shown that a mere 500kg of weight will increase braking distances by up to 36%.

At 30mph, VW found that braking distances increased by 33% with a 500kg load. That’s an extra two metres, which is a lot in heavy urban traffic.

At 60mph, the braking distance only increased by 19%, but because of the much higher speed VW found that their vans needed an extra five metres to stop. That’s roughly the length of a medium-sized van.

Even that may not be enough. If you’re moving house, you might find your load weighs considerably more than 500kg. A typical 3.5t luton van or long wheelbase Transit will carry around 1,000kg. And you might be surprised how the weight of your furniture and other belongings adds up.

With this extra weight on board, I’d expect your stopping distance to be considerably longer than the figures suggested by Volkswagen.

As a rule of thumb, the more heavily loaded your van is, the more space you should leave to the vehicle in front, especially when in town or on busy high-speed roads like A-roads and motorways.

For more tips, check out our first-timers guide to driving a van.

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