This content has been provided by Expert Market
THE need for planning ahead is important in every form of business as productivity can be greatly impacted by poor time management.
When it comes to driving, where safety is a far greater issue, it’s crucial to alleviate stress and the pressure to take risks, and good planning will help you to achieve this.
You will not be able to account for every scenario but there are certain things you know from experience that could hamper your journey and these are the things you need to have an alternative plan of action for should they occur.
Amy Harris, Community Manager for Expert Market, offers five ways van drivers can plan ahead.
1. Planning your schedule with the best route in mind
The more thorough your knowledge of the locality you will be driving in, the quicker and easier you will be able to plan your route. You will need to consider the most efficient way to reach the locations on your schedule, taking into account time of day, traffic flow and road restrictions.
Innercity driving throws up many issues that can influence traffic flow and these cannot always be predicted. Even if you’re using a sat nav, you may come across unexpected road works, accidents and diversions.
Thinking up alternative routes that will help you get out of trouble is therefore essential. Again, good area knowledge really helps.
Keeping up to date on reported weather conditions or scheduled events that could cause a delay will help when planning alternative routes. This will also help you make plans to re-
schedule your journey if necessary.
Don’t forget to factor in stops for petrol or rest breaks if relevant, and if you have any concerns that the time you are expected to complete the journey in is unreasonable, you should discuss alternative options with your manager in advance.
2. Planning your load
Once you have a good idea of your route and schedule, you can plan the best way to load your van for convenience and speed of delivery. You must also take into consideration your organisation’s policies and procedures relating to health and safety, as well as legal requirements like weight restrictions and load distribution.
At the same time, bear in mind your delivery sequence and when and how you might redistribute your load during the course of the journey.
3. Keeping records
Check that you have all the necessary paperwork for the entire journey and any necessary transactions with customers. Many companies provide digital signature devices but you may have to issue receipts or delivery notes and keep some manual record of mileage, fuel purchases and any costs incurred.
Records, however they are kept, are extremely important to business. Paperwork should be well organised so nothing is forgotten or lost.
Handling numerous items when mobile can be cumbersome, so organising how you will manage this part of the job in advance means you won’t waste valuable time searching for the necessary documentation when you reach your destination.
4. Inspect your vehicle
Make sure your vehicle is in safe working order before taking it out on the road. You should be aware of its condition at all times, keeping check that everything is operational, and compliant with all legislation.
That way you can plan and carry out any necessary maintenance prior to a problem becoming a safety issue or putting the van out of action. You should also check that you have the necessary restraints for the type of load you will be carrying and appropriate emergency equipment on board.
However, it’s not just about making sure the brakes and lights are working and the tyres are in good condition.
Keeping a clean van – inside and out – is also important. Your vehicle is your main place of work and represents the company you are employed by. It should therefore be treated with respect, as an untidy vehicle with clutter rolling about on the dashboard can project a poor image and be distracting for the driver, and sitting in a mess for any length of time can prove stressful.
5. Planning for the long haul
Drowsiness whilst driving is a serious matter and doesn’t just occur on long distance journeys. Plan to have adequate and good quality sleep before setting out. Consider your journey and avoid night driving where possible.
Book an overnight stop where necessary and plan where you will take your rest breaks. There are restrictions for how many hours you are permitted to drive without a break but you also need to know your own limitations and plan accordingly.
There are emergency measures you can take to deal with the onset of tiredness. This involves finding the nearest safe place to pull over, taking some caffeine and having a nap of no longer than 15 minutes. However, this procedure should not be used more than once during your journey.
Finally, remember to take your mobile phone in case you encounter any problems and in order that you never feel stranded.