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How to Drive a Moving Truck

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If you have opted for a do-it-yourself move, you will have to load your rental truck with your self-packed boxes and goods, and transport the shipment to your new home. While all the packing and heavy lifting may seem like the most difficult aspect of your move, safely and effectively maneuvering your rental truck can also be daunting. Read on for helpful tips for driving your rental truck to your new home for your move.

Know your route

Before you hit the road, make sure you well aware of your route. Planning your travel path in advance will allow you to prepare for road weight restrictions or avoid low bridges that will not accommodate your truck. Also, maneuvering a cumbersome moving truck will be much easier if you are confident in navigating your route. Getting confused or lost will only make your trip stressful and difficult. If you do not already own one, you may be able to rent a GPS unit from your rental truck agency.

Turning and passing

Your rental truck is longer and wider than a car, so you must take turns slowly and carefully. Your truck will require more area to turn than a smaller vehicle, so you will have to make wider turns.
  • Always use your turn signal, and signal as soon as possible before turning.

  • Check all of the mirrors before making any turns.

  • Never pass a vehicle that's moving faster than 40 miles per hour, and stay out of the passing lane on highways.

  • Always use your signal and check your mirror to ensure you have ample room to change lanes.

  • Never pass cars on hills or curves, and avoid making sudden stops or changing lanes abruptly.

Don't tailgate

Trucks require more time to stop than other vehicles. If you know there is a stop approaching, be sure to brake early. Never tailgate--always keep at least five car lengths between you and the vehicle ahead of you.

Be wary of overhead clearance and restrictions

Your rental truck will require at least 14 feet of overhead clearance to safely pass. When planning your travel route, check for low overpasses and bridges. Additionally, be aware of low-hanging tree branches, drive-thru restaurants, banks, and parking garage entrances. There will often be a signs alerting drivers of the permitted clearance in tight passages. Look for signs prohibiting truck traffic on bridges, in tunnels, and on certain roadways.

Parking

Parking a bulky moving truck can be tricky. Make sure you take your time, exercise caution, and check all mirrors while parking.
  • Always park with your wheels turned away from the curb when you are parked uphill, and toward the curb when facing downhill to prevent the truck from rolling.

  • Set the emergency brake every time you park.

  • Avoid backing into parking spaces in lots. This can be extremely difficult to maneuver in a large truck. If possible, it is best to park far away from any business entrances where the lot is empty, so you can avoid having to back out of the space. If you must back up, ask someone to direct you. Never back up if your truck has towing equipment.

  • Park in well-lit areas. To protect your goods, keep all doors locked. Padlock the safety chain from the towing device to the truck, and the safety chain from the towing device to the towed vehicle.

Fuel-saving tips

When driving a rental truck, you will be responsible for fuel costs. While the truck will be provided with gas in the tank, you will be responsible for replenishing what you use. Using green driving methods to conserve your fuel will not only help the environment, but save you some money, too!
  • Don't speed. The faster you drive, the more fuel you will be burn.

  • Don't accelerate too quickly. Be light on the gas pedal to reach your desired speed slowly.

  • When slowing down or stopping, slowly let up on the gas and brake gently.

Other tips

  • Always wear your safety belt.

  • Pay attention to all road signs, especially those pertinent for trucks--including weigh station stops, truck restriction signs and overhead clearance notices.

  • Drive slowly and cautiously. Avoid speeding, making abrupt stops, or taking turns quickly and sharply. Not only will careful driving keep you safe, but your cargo as well. Reckless driving will cause your shipment to shift and sustain damage.

  • Be extra careful at intersections. Always check both ways twice before proceeding.

  • If you are traveling long distances, take turns driving with a family member to avoid fatigue. Ideally, you should not travel more than 500 miles per day.

  • If you are moving alone, make stops every few hours to stretch your legs and rest your eyes. Always stop at hotels to get a full night's sleep, and never drive while you are tired.

Nicole La Capria  Posted by Nicole La Capria on October 29, 2013

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