THIS is potentially the most fraught part of a van driver’s day: where can I unload my van? In fact, the rules and regs around unloading your van are fairly liberal. But it’s different for loading where there are all sorts of situations where it’s prohibited.
Some of the rules are obvious: you can’t stop to load (or unload) your van in areas such as clearways, pedestrian crossings and where there are double white lines.
And you must never stop anywhere that could cause unnecessary danger or obstruction – like on a corner or bridge. The police and traffic wardens can remove vehicles that break this law.
So where can I unload my van? Look for the marks
The other restrictions that apply when loading are usually marked. In urban areas they’ll be indicated by pips and signs along the kerb. Double pips denote a total loading ban, while single pips indicate no loading at certain times.
A similar rule follows for areas whereby parking meters are used, but vary between single, double and triple pips (chevrons).
- Single marks denote a peak-hour ban (signposted);
- Double denotes a ban during the time of standard parking restrictions (therefore not signposted); and
- Triple denotes a ban usually longer than the working day (signposted).
How long can you take?
Even in areas where loading is allowed, you must be able to prove you are acting within the rules by continuously loading or unloading your van.
Loading in a vacant parking space is usually allowed, as long as you are stopped for less than 20 minutes.
You must stop for no longer than the allowed period (20 minutes between 11.00 and 18.30 in London), while any longer requires permission from the police or local traffic warden.
Of course, if the site you are using has a rear loading entrance, you have to to use that instead of stopping at the kerbside.
Can you unload where there’s no parking?
There are a number of areas where parking is banned, but loading is allowed. Bus lanes for example may have defined hours of operation when stopping and parking isn’t allowed, yet loading is. Remember that the necessary pips must still be displayed on the kerb.
The same is true of cycle lanes, but it is essential to understand the difference between mandatory and advisory lanes. You must never load or unload within a mandatory cycle lane – indicated by a solid white line.
Red routes – indicated by double or single red lines on the side of the road – are in use in major cities such as London and Birmingham. Loading and unloading on double line routes is totally banned apart from in specific loading bays. A single red line means loading in restricted to certain times and will be clearly signposted.
Parking on pavements and verges should also be avoided unless totally necessary. It is an offence to park on the pavement if your vehicle weighs more than 7.5 tonnes, with a blanket ban for all trade vehicles in the City of London.
You can only legally park on the kerb with police permission, in an emergency, or if loading cannot satisfactorily be carried out otherwise. Pavement-mounted vehicles must never be left unattended.
Finally, it is worth noting that you should never park or unload on private land unless you have explicit permission to do so.
In England and Wales, as of October 2012, clamping on private land has been totally outlawed but property owners cna still issue tickets and reclaim costs from car owners and drivers if they are found to have been parked without permission. Parking on private property is fraught with issues so without permission, don’t is our advice.
What if you’re nabbed?
In the unfortunate event that you get a parking ticket, take note of where and when it occurred and any signage. You may also need to prove you were loading/unloading at the time – so get the co-operation of your customer. Write it down!
This won’t cover every eventuality but should act as a guide to help you unload your van with confidence.
In summary, always check the relevant signage to prevent unsafe and illegal unloading and never park your business van in a dangerous or obstructive manner. Spend only as long as you must when loading your van and be sure to lock your vehicle when unattended.