I panicked the day that I realized that having twins meant that we would no longer fit in our minivan. Several years ago I had to drive a full size van for work and honestly I had never really gotten comfortable with it. I was sure that making the switch to a full size van as a daily driver was going to be a huge adjustment.
One of my biggest fears was safety. I have always been terrified by stories of vehicles driving over small children and I know how easily accidents can happen. We saw first-hand how easily accidents can happen when a neighbor of ours drove over a little boy in his driveway a few years back. It was a terrifying experience, one that fortunately ended well but I have never forgotten that.
Making the switch to a full size van when we bought our Nissan NV 3500 was necessary but still intimidating. Now that I’ve been driving it for a while I have some essential safety tips that have helped ta feel a lot safer.
Back Up Camera – I knew when we bought our van that the first thing I wanted to do was install a back-up camera. We considered buying one with a back-up camera already installed but I didn’t love the one that came with the van. Rosen helped us out and put in a great back-up camera that I’ve been very impressed with and has made me feel a whole lot safer driving a van this big.
Rosen’s division Echomaster makes vehicle specific back-up cameras for easier installation that keep the OEM look. We went with a high mount camera that replaced the brake light above the rear doors and gives a wide field of view — the camera that Nissan installs on this vehicle mounts above the license plate so visibility wasn’t great. The camera is adjustable so you can easily point it closer to the bumper or aim it further away. We have ours pointed close to the bumper so I can keep an eye out for kids.
In order to see the image produced by the back-up camera, Rosen also installed a rear view mirror with a 4.3″ screen in it. I was pretty amused when I saw the way this works as no one can see the screen but the driver. To everyone else, it just looks like a mirror. It works really well!
Stay Alert – This is kind of basic and it’s always important to stay alert while driving any car but it’s extra important when driving a full size van that weighs several tons. Avoid driving if you are tired and take frequent breaks on longer trips.
Walk Around the Van – Ever since my neighbor’s little boy was run over in their driveway, I’ve been extra cautious while driving. I’m in the habit of walking all the way around the car before I drive away. This technique prevented a close call with one of my sons as a toddler. I had jumped in the car to run a quick errand. I realized I forgot my sunglasses so instead of backing down the driveway I went back into the house. When I got out of the car I was startled to see my toddler standing behind my car. He had decided he wanted to come with me so he was walking behind the car to get to the passenger side door. It scares me to death how close we came to an accident. He was safely inside the house when I left so I didn’t even think about looking around my vehicle. Now I’m in the habit of ALWAYS walking all the way around my car before moving it. You never know when that habit will save a life.
Back-up Sensors – As an extra precaution for backing, Rosen also set up their Park Alert back up sensors. These four sensors were mounted in the bumper and beep progressively faster just in case I miss something in the camera.
Video – I’ve never thought of this a being a safety feature but now that Rosen installed it, I am convinced that it is. It definitely minimizes the noise and other distractions from the kids while I am driving. Rosen installed two X10 10.2” ceiling mount systems in our Nissan NV 3500. This means that the boys AND the girls can both watch their own movies and be entertained. They all have wireless headphones running on different channels which match which movie they are watching. As an extra bonus, there are even some preinstalled video games built in.
Check out the video below to see all the safety features in our Nissan NV 3500:
Do you have any tips for driving a large vehicle safely?
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