Renting a moving truck is a great way to save money on your move, but it’s also a huge responsibility. Driving a giant, unfamiliar vehicle with your loved ones aboard AND all your belongings are possibly the most demanding task you will face during your DIY move. You don’t need a special driver’s license to rent a moving truck, but certain precautions are in order, especially if you have never driven a truck before.
Here are 10 safety tips for driving a rental moving truck you need to know before you drive it off the lot:
Start your trip with a very thorough inspection of the truck. Check the tires, the signals, the lights and mirrors to make sure the truck is in good shape. Insist with the rental company to get the best and newest truck they have- sometimes a little persistence can make all the difference. Also, check for any damage to the truck’s interior and exterior so you don’t get blamed for it later.
2. Safe Distance
This might seem obvious but it cannot be stressed enough- trucks are heavier and take longer to come to a complete stop, so keeping a safe distance from other cars is exceedingly important. Keep at least double the distance you would keep if you were driving a car to be on the safe side.
3. Bad Weather
Driving a moving truck in bad weather calls for an even greater distance between you and the cars in front of you. You should also slow down to about 10mph below the speed limit. If possible, plan your trip for a time of the year when the weather is more agreeable.
4. Safe Loading
Every vehicle has a weight limit you must never exceed. Check the recommended GVWR and GAWR to know how much weight is safe to load onto your rental truck. For more tips on DIY packing and loading, visit this blog post.
5. Safe Braking
If you get a flat tire or need to brake suddenly for any reason, don’t slam on the brakes. Slow the truck gradually and pull over safely. Braking too suddenly may lead you to lose control of the vehicle.
6. Safe Turning
A truck needs much more space than a car when it comes to turning. Slow down as much as you need and allow more space for wider turns so you don’t turn over.
7. Take It Slow
Moving truck rental companies like Penske and U-Haul do not specify the exact speed limit for driving their trucks but rather generally advise to follow the speed limits that vary from state to state. To be on the side of caution you are generally advised to drive at about half the speed of a regular car. Your new home isn’t going anywhere- go slow!
8. Take Breaks
If you’re moving long distance, make sure not to drive more than 10 hours per shift. Professional truck drivers aren’t allowed to drive more than 11 hours a day- moving truck rental companies limit to 10 as a safety measure. Take as many breaks as you need to freshen up, with each break at least 30 minutes long after the first eight hours of driving. This will help keep your energy up and your senses sharp.
9. Driving through Mountains
Nobody teaches you how to drive a moving truck through mountain passes, though it might be the most challenging part of your journey. Some roads may not allow the shoulder space you need to make a stop for resting and regrouping so make sure you learn your route in advance and plan for those stretches of the road. While the view might be breathtaking, remember to go slow and keep your cool- those steep hills and dangerous curves call for your undivided attention.
10. Car or Trailer in Tow
If you’re planning to drive your moving truck while towing a car you will need to decide whether to use a tow dolly or a special trailer. The choice depends on the conditions of the road, the length of the drive and of course your budget. In any case, safety rules apply tenfold here, as towing impacts your braking distance and the truck’s balance during turns.
Whether you are driving a 12-foot moving truck or a 26-foot truck, this road trip is like no other you’ve ever taken- have fun and drive safe!