It takes a lot of training to get behind the wheel of 18 wheelers and other large trucks. These vehicles are large, powerful and require precision driving skills to handle safely. For that reason, it seems like moving trucks, such as those rented by U-Haul, should require a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to drive. However, that’s not the case. As a result, when moving truck accidents happen, if the driver did not have a CDL, you have to wonder if the wreck could have been avoided if a driver with a commercial license had been driving the vehicle.
Until lawmakers and the rental truck industry step up efforts to solve this problem, drivers who may be unable to safely handle U-Haul trucks will continue to find themselves behind the wheel of one anyway. With this danger looming, it’s crucial that any driver that is given the keys to a rental truck at least knows basic safety tips for driving moving trucks.
Safety Tips for Driving a Moving Truck
While not an adequate replacement for the level of training that commercial drivers undergo, the following safety tips may help drivers avoid moving truck accidents:
- Keep a Safe Following Distance – Due to their size and power, trucks can take much longer than passenger vehicles to stop. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you maintain a safe distance between your moving truck and the car or truck in front of you in traffic. Try to at least double the following distance you would use if you were driving a car or pickup truck.
- Inspect the Truck – Before you drive the rental truck, check the vehicle over, including the headlights and taillights, tires, brakes, mirrors and turn signals. In addition, check the interior and exterior of the truck for any damage.
- Properly Load the Truck – Find out the truck’s weight limit and make sure not to overload the vehicle. To learn how much weight you should load onto a moving truck, check its recommended gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and gross axle weight rating (GAWR). In addition, make sure that you pack the truck securely and that the load is balanced correctly.
- If You Have a Tire Blowout – If one of the moving truck’s tires goes flat while you’re driving, do not slam on the brakes. Instead, gradually slow the truck down and safely pull it onto the side of the road. If you brake too fast, you could lose control of the truck, which could lead to a trucking accident.
- Do Not Speed – Try to drive the rental truck slower than you would drive a regular car or pickup truck. Preferably, drive your moving truck at or below the posted speed limit.
- Ignore Your GPS’s Travel Time Estimate – Unless you know how to adjust your vehicle’s GPS to estimate travel time for a large truck, it is estimating it for a normal size vehicle. In general, if you are estimated to arrive in two hours in a car, then plan on the trip taking four hours in a moving truck.
- Be Careful When Turning – Remember that trucks make wide turns, which requires much more room than passenger vehicles. Therefore, plan your route accordingly and keep your eyes open for unexpected turns before you reach them so that you can be prepared to make the turn safely if necessary.
- Practice Extreme Caution in Bad Weather – No matter what type of vehicle you are in, driving in bad weather, such as rain or ice, requires you to be very careful. This includes driving at least 10 miles under the speed limit and keeping an even larger following distance between you and the vehicle in front of you than normal.
- Rest Breaks – If you’re driving a long distance in your moving truck, do not drive over 10 hours straight. In addition, pull over and take breaks often, especially after you’ve driven eight hours straight. Your breaks should be around 30 minutes or more each once you cross the eight-hour barrier. This will help you avoid getting sleepy, which can lead to drowsy driving accidents.
Have you ever driven a U-Haul vehicle or any other type of moving truck? If so, did you feel comfortable driving it or overwhelmed? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below or on our firm’s Facebook, Twitter or Google+ pages.