Figures released by the Department for Transport suggest that you are probably right to be concerned. In 2016, there were 1,350 parking and reversing accidents involving vans that resulted in death or injuries to drivers, passengers, cyclists or pedestrians.
In addition to this, there were many more minor reversing shunts where damage was limited to property, not people.
The human cost of these accidents can be terrible. But even if no-one else is involved, costs can be high. Volkswagen estimates that having a van off the road costs companies an average of £550 per day. Average UK car repair bills — after a collision — clock in at a weighty £1,678.
How to reverse your hire van safely
There are a few things you can do to make reversing and parking much safer.
The first is to ensure that your mirrors are correctly adjusted to provide a clear view down each side of the van. Make sure you familiarise yourself with what’s visible and any blind spots.
Don’t be afraid to get out and have a look. I can’t emphasise this enough. Get out and look! Even the most experienced drivers do this sometimes. There’s no substitute for eyeballs.
If at all possible, make sure you have a friend or colleague to help when you’re reversing into an enclosed space.
Of course, if your hire van has a reversing camera, this will help reduce the risk of a collision. Unfortunately most rental vans don’t have this feature, which is usually an extra-cost option on new vans.
Whatever the situation, make sure you are moving dead slow when you reverse and park. That way, if you do hit something the potential damage to life or vehicle will be limited.
What if I damage the van when reversing?
Any damage to the van when reversing could leave you with a hefty repair bill. Our research suggests that the excess on hire vans is typically upwards of £1,000.
Unless you’ve purchased excess protection insurance to reduce this liability, you’ll be liable for all repair costs up to the full excess amount.
Our top tip
The vast majority of van reversing is completed successfully and without any damage. It’s not that difficult to do if you take care and go slow.
Get a reliable friend to help if possible.
If you’re on your own, take as much time as you need. Don’t hesitate to get out and look.
By following these tips, you should be able to enjoy a safe, damage-free van rental.