From a van driver's point of view...

Commuting, Day rides, Audax, Incidents, etc.
SleepyJoe
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Re: From a van driver's point of view...

Postby SleepyJoe » 14 Nov 2012, 1:27pm

Whoops, too many dates!
Paper licences will be replaced by photocards by 2033 according to MoneySavingExpert.com
http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/renew-driving-licence

Mark

thirdcrank
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Re: From a van driver's point of view...

Postby thirdcrank » 14 Nov 2012, 3:36pm

The 2033 date was presumably calculated on the basis that anybody who was 17 when paper licences came in (around 1976?) will be 70 in 2033 and their licence will expire anyway the day before their 70th birthday. As I suggested above, I think that they may be scrapped long before then, in order to comply with EU directives aimed at standardisation of licences. No point in giving the minister power to scrap them if there's no intention of doing it.

hexhome
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Re: From a van driver's point of view...

Postby hexhome » 16 Nov 2012, 11:02am

Getting back to the OP. This week I have had the 'pleasure' of driving a fully loaded 7.5t truck, a 17 seat mini bus and a truck loaded to 32t. I encountered lots of cyclists (mainly in relatively flat York) but also on some hills in Wales (brave souls).

I don't often get to drive a 7.5 tonner and when I do, I expect an easy day, I was disappointed! In many ways they are more difficult to drive than larger trucks and in encounters with cyclists, I noticed a couple of problems.

The first difference is the performance. Rated at 140 bhp and loaded to 7.5t (7.45 on weighbridge), you would expect on paper at least to have a good level of acceleration and hill climbing. This wasn't the case. Compared to 465 bhp and 32t this is a better power to rate ration (18.6 against 14.5). In order to keep the 7.5t vehicle as light as possible, the truck is fitted with a relatively small engine. If kept within the 300 rpm power band, it's performance was no more than adequate. On hills, it really struggled, as a result of lack of gears (5 instead of 12 or 16) and lack of torque. Another difference was the 'sit' on the road. A fully loaded 7.5 tonner is quite 'rocky', this meant that manoeuvres, especially in close quarters with other large vehicles occupied all the attention of the driver in order to ensure clearance at the top as well as at the bottom. The vehicle felt less stable than my regular drive. The last problem was visability, I had fewer mirrors and no rear camera. I had to be extra vigilant when encountering other road users. The net result of this was that the vehicle was noisier, much more exhausting and difficult to drive than a modern large truck.

As far as encounters with cyclists were concerned there was one interesting difference, lack of respect (word used in it's literal sense)! Several times a day, a cyclist will emerge from a side road and often pull straight out into the road. Some road layouts allow for this and most of the time it causes no problem. If I am in a large truck, usually the cyclist waits, recognising that unless I braked very sharply, any subsequent overtake would be unavoidably close (note, I would in these circumstances brake if possible). 3 times whilst driving the 7.5 tonner, a cyclist looked and decided to turn into my path. Now a 7.5t truck is slightly narrower than a 44t one, but it is still tight and whilst all modern trucks have excellent brake performance, it was not comfortable. I did encounter a cyclist on a hill, but there was no problem getting past safely. As always, it was simply a case of waiting until there was safe and comfortable space to complete the maneuver.

A brief word about the minibus, good performance and no problems as far as encounters with cyclists but unladen, there was very little traction on the rear axle. I would imagine that these would very easily 'fishtail' if swerved. I carried only 4 passengers and they naturally migrated to the front which doesn't improve this characteristic.

Twice whilst driving the 32t vehicle, cyclists quite correctly gave me extra consideration and room. I would have coped safely if they hadn't and I don't 'expect' it, but it made everything safe and comfortable.

Please note that I am reporting the issues faced as purely factual. Whilst I am happy to enter a debate on whether trucks should be on the road and what the legal standards should be, this post was to relate to the OPs post and subsequent questions.

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: From a van driver's point of view...

Postby [XAP]Bob » 16 Nov 2012, 11:18am

Interesting that the HGV is "easier" in many respects than the WVM's general steed.
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

pauldesjour
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Re: From a van driver's point of view...

Postby pauldesjour » 24 Nov 2012, 8:40pm

From a lorry drivers point of view.
I am a cyclist and a lorry driver. Being both means that I very rarely take issue with cyclists, however there is one scenario which occurs frequently although I am sure the cyclists involved don't realise what they are doing. I drive a 44 tonne vehicle regularly along the A5 between betwys y coed and llangollen and frequently get stuck behind groups of bikes riding at 20 to 25 mph and 20 or 30 metres apart. It is impossible for me to overtake at all because the truck will not accelerate fast enough and even if if it did there isn't enough room between the groups to pull back in. As I refuse to make a dangerous attempt at overtaking I end up sitting behind them for miles sometimes. When this occurs it is obvious from their expressions when they keep turning round to look at me that the cyclists are annoyed because I am sitting behind them and have even had them give me the finger when I do finally get past even though I always give a full vehicles width when overtaking. I think the moral of this story is that if everyone on the road used a bit of common sense and respected each other there wouldn't be so many problems between drivers and cyclists. Also on the subject of lorries in towns I would never ever ride my bike down the nearside of a slow moving or stationary truck as the blind spot on this side is big enough to hide a van even with all the mirrors that the truck has.

hexhome
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Re: From a van driver's point of view...

Postby hexhome » 24 Nov 2012, 10:30pm

pauldesjour wrote: the blind spot on this side is big enough to hide a van even with all the mirrors that the truck has.


Welcome to the forum, it's always good to have posters with a balanced view. I also cycle and drive trucks. One issue I have is the use of the term 'Blind Spot'. As you say, there are areas which require a bit more effort to see, but I am challenging this particular terminology as I feel that it has become an excuse. I hope that you will agree that as a cyclist yourself, it would be extremely unlikely that you would miss a cyclist entering any danger zones around your vehicle. This is because you will be more aware than most and will check the kerb and forward mirror as well as the others, before moving off. With a little head movement and looking around, the 'blind spots' can be checked.

I have been campaigning to have 'vulnerable road user' courses made available as a component of the DCPC rather than some of the less useful courses we are forced into taking. I think that this would make a valuable contribution to the safety of cyclists around trucks.

Whilst I haven't experienced the level of problems you have to any frequency, and I do use that road, I can visualise the problem. Whilst there may be a need for better manners from cyclists, with good drivers like yourself, it isn't a dangerous situation.

IanMSpencer
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Re: From a van driver's point of view...

Postby IanMSpencer » 25 Nov 2012, 10:57am

There are two problems on visibility of my Mercedes Vito van.

1) The full boxed in rear means that you have no sideways visibility. This is a major issue at junctions that are not right angled. Turning right into a main road at a side road going in a similar direction gives you no visibility. You will see van drivers do odd things, like at such a junction with an island splitting left and right turns we might take the left hand one and turn right, because it is impossible to see otherwise.

2) The modern streamlined fronts have extremely large pillars to the side of the windscreen which are very swept back. At a roundabout, they completely obscure the visibility of traffic coming around a roundabout. The first time I drove the van, I completely missed a Jaguar S-Type as I hadn't appreciated that I would not see all the road when glancing to the right as it was entirely hidden by the pillar (which is about 10cm across I would guess). I now know to physically move around in the van to gain visibility. Many modern cars have a similar problem, the effect is that people believe that they have looked properly but do not realise that you cannot see (it took a near miss for me to properly appreciate how bad the problem was).

hexhome
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Re: From a van driver's point of view...

Postby hexhome » 25 Nov 2012, 11:09am

IanMSpencer wrote:There are two problems on visibility of my Mercedes Vito van.
1) This is a major issue at junctions that are not right angled.

This is one of the many reasons why I find driving commercial vehicles which aren't covered by the EU directive to fit class IV mirrors (http://www.newlegislationtruckmirrors.c ... let_en.pdf ) , more difficult than larger trucks. The maneuver you describe is a potential killer in such a vehicle. As you point out, with experience you learn to alter your angle at a junction to compensate, but there is no requirement at all for any training to drive this type of vehicle.
IanMSpencer wrote:2) The modern streamlined fronts have extremely large pillars to the side of the windscreen which are very swept back.

As do many other vehicles. Again, experience and training teach us to move our heads - or claim SMIDSY it was my 'blind spot'!

ambodach
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Re: From a van driver's point of view...

Postby ambodach » 26 Nov 2012, 9:45pm

Pauldesjour puts a point I totally agree with and this is one of my points in another post on this forum. I have had the same problem more often recently due to the large increase in cyclists doing end to end runs and this in a much smaller vehicle. Pleas for courtesy and common sense seem only to generate hostilty or at best ridicule. Perhaps My skin is getting thinner as I get older.

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Re: From a van driver's point of view...

Postby Vorpal » 28 Nov 2012, 2:45pm

hexhome wrote:
IanMSpencer wrote:There are two problems on visibility of my Mercedes Vito van.
1) This is a major issue at junctions that are not right angled.

This is one of the many reasons why I find driving commercial vehicles which aren't covered by the EU directive to fit class IV mirrors (http://www.newlegislationtruckmirrors.c ... let_en.pdf ) , more difficult than larger trucks. The maneuver you describe is a potential killer in such a vehicle. As you point out, with experience you learn to alter your angle at a junction to compensate, but there is no requirement at all for any training to drive this type of vehicle.
IanMSpencer wrote:2) The modern streamlined fronts have extremely large pillars to the side of the windscreen which are very swept back.

As do many other vehicles. Again, experience and training teach us to move our heads - or claim SMIDSY it was my 'blind spot'!


1) I've noticed that many junctions in Norway with sharper than right angles have convex mirrors. I thought of this thread when I saw one the other day. Is that the likely purpose of them? To aid drivers of vans and delivery vehicles that have poor visibilty? The one I noticed the other day was on a junction that was otherwise quite open.

2) The only accident I've had in many years of driving occurred partly because I had a new car & was unaware how big an area the A-pillar hid. After the accident, I was always careful to move enough to see around it. I also evaluated that on cars when purchasing the next one. But that was an extremely unfortunate way to learn.

I like to think that I'm a pretty careful driver. I also think analytically. I can imagine that even after an accident, many drivers would dismiss it as the victims fault, or at least not think through the causes adequately to realise that they should do anything. Even many of those who think they should do something may not be able to get beyond 'I'll be more careful next time'. The numbers who make adjustments to their own driving habits are likely small.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

hexhome
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Re: From a van driver's point of view...

Postby hexhome » 28 Nov 2012, 5:00pm

Vorpal wrote:1) I've noticed that many junctions in Norway with sharper than right angles have convex mirrors. I thought of this thread when I saw one the other day. Is that the likely purpose of them? To aid drivers of vans and delivery vehicles that have poor visibilty? The one I noticed the other day was on a junction that was otherwise quite open.


They are also useful to allow the drivers of large vehicles to see cyclists etc. which may be around them. There is a campaign to fit 'Trixi' mirrors to junctions in London, more here - http://www.southwark.gov.uk/news/articl ... _junctions

Anglian
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Re: From a van driver's point of view...

Postby Anglian » 29 Nov 2012, 5:39pm

horizon wrote:
johncarnie wrote:The point about pulling over on hills again is legitimate - I'd rather have the large vehicle in front of me than up my chuff! Unfortunately for the sake of self-preservation we have to cycle defensively!


johncarnie: from a safety point view it is much more important to keep the lorry behind you, protecting you from vehicles not only coming from behind and not seeing you but also overtaking too closely. A large vehicle will also protect your space from oncoming vehicles.


Only sometimes it doesn't work like that.

An acquaintance of mine was cycling along a straight single-carriageway A-road, with a low-acceleration truck behind him, shielding him from other vehicles behind it.

The car driver following the slow-moving truck, who couldn't see my acquaintance from that position, saw a gap in oncoming traffic to get around the obstacle in front of him, took the chance, and side-swiped my acquaintance off the road, injuring both man and bike. He survived, thank God.

This was many years ago, and the dangers still haunt me. I still wonder what the least-risk course of action is (he may have done the right thing, and it just didn't pay off this time).

Further along that A-road, my acquaintance would have turned right into his village, on a straight bit of road. Of course, his signal wouldn't be seen at all by cars behind the truck. The Highway Code advises against overtaking when there's a road joining on the right-hand side, but some motorists don't think of things like. Turning right into the path of a car accelerating past the truck would have caused even more damage.

Sometimes the shielding goes too far (in the context of their being impatient and incautious motorists on the road).

Warmest regards,
Anglian

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: From a van driver's point of view...

Postby [XAP]Bob » 30 Nov 2012, 8:17am

At that point the lorry driver could have pulled right and blocked the manoeuvre, I've had French lorry drivers do that for me (the police were hugging his bumper :))
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

hexhome
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Re: From a van driver's point of view...

Postby hexhome » 30 Nov 2012, 9:21am

[XAP]Bob wrote:I've had French lorry drivers do that for me (the police were hugging his bumper :))


The French have the best lorry drivers in the world. Months of training and a multitude of exams which eliminate all but the very best.The biggest difference is attitude, it is seen as an honourable profession in France whereas here we are seen as a nuisance!

Incidentally, as a result of more intense training requirements for new drivers and the unattractive nature of the job, the average age of lorry drivers is now much higher. It is reckoned that 40% of drivers will have retired in 10 to 15 years and that there will be a critical shortage of drivers throughout the EU.

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meic
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Re: From a van driver's point of view...

Postby meic » 30 Nov 2012, 9:25am

Then they will have a choice.

Pay drivers a better wage or import them from Nigeria/Nepal and pay them minimum wage.

Guess which they will do. :wink:
Yma o Hyd