So, you’ve decided to rent a moving/box truck to help move your stuff.
Instead of hiring a moving company you have decided to go at it alone.
After you’ve packed everything you are ready to hit the road.
But you have never driven anything larger than an SUV. What now?
Here are 19 tips you have to read that will help you to safely drive the box truck just about anywhere in the United States.
The first thing we are going to address is whether or not you can use your “regular” drivers license.
Do you need a special license or CDL to operate a moving truck or a box truck?
That depends on the size of the vehicle.
A CDL is usually not needed to drive a box truck, as long as, the truck does not exceed 26,001 pounds at any time during it’s use. Most U-Hauls are small enough to be driven by a regular class D driver’s license, or someone who is licensed to drive a car.
The requirement for a class B CDL is for straight trucks, large passenger buses, box trucks, dump trucks with small trailers, and tractor trailers with a gross weight rating of 26,001 lbs.
How do you know the gross weight rating of the box truck?
One way to find out is to ask the company what it is and the other way is to check the door jamb of the truck.
Usually there is a sticker that tells you what the max. weight rating of the front and rear axles are.
Add these two together and that is the gross max. weight rating for the truck.
For example, if the front axle has a max. weight rating of 5,000 lbs. and the rear axle has a weight rating of 10,000 lbs. the gross weight rating for the truck is 15,000 lbs.
If you want to watch the video of me discussing the tips on my YouTube channel then watch this:
Tip 1: Use The Side Mirrors
When driving a box truck or U-Haul make sure to use your side mirrors.
Oncoming traffic, cars, and tractor trailers are easily not noticed or unseen when driving a large box truck.
There are many blind spots where small cars seem to hide, that you may miss while driving a vehicle that you are not used to driving.
Tip 2: Give Some Extra Space
While driving a box truck make sure to leave space between you and the vehicle in front of you.
Larger vehicles do not stop as fast as cars do and with the added weight of the truck when it is loaded, will make it even harder to stop in an emergency situation or on wet roads.
Tip 3: Don’t Expect To Go Fast
I know that you are used to how a car accelerates quickly at a red light or from a complete stop.
However larger vehicles like a moving van or truck take a lot more energy and time to accelerate.
You won’t be able to hit 40 mph as fast as you would in your normal car.
Tip 4: Get An Atlas
Before you leave on your trip grab a map or an atlas.
First, draw the route you will take on your trip.
This will help you during a trip if your GPS sends you in the wrong direction or down back roads that are so far out in the boonies your GPS can’t get a signal.
You can pull out your atlas so that you will have some idea of where you’re going. A map does not need batteries or electricity as a GPS or a phone does.
So an atlas is an excellent back up in case of emergency.
You never know when you will be under a bridge or in the middle of a tunnel or out in the middle of Timbuktu where there is no satellite coverage for your GPS.
Of course, your phone is the same way you have to have the battery charged and the satellite signal for its GPS to work.
Tip 5: Make Wider Turns
While driving a small car you usually do not have to swing wide to make a turn, although if you drive a SUV or another similar vehicle you may be used to having to swing a little wider to make your turn.
But with a big box truck you need to take into consideration that you are driving something much wider than you’re used to.
The curbs are closer than you will expect.
Also, the clearance of the hood and the back of the truck is in a different place than what you’re used to.
Tip 6: Don’t Hurry
Don’t get in a hurry, it will take you longer to get to where you’re going.
A few reasons include the truck does not accelerate like a car, you are not used to driving a larger vehicle, so you may be taking being extra careful.
Other reasons include the truck does not accelerate like a car, you are not used to driving a large vehicle, so you may be driving at a slower speed than you generally do.
Other traffic will get in your way, not only cars, but other large tractor trailers that are slower than you.
Take your time, be patient, the more you rush in the more anxious you get, increasing the possibility that you have an accident.
Tip 7: Respect The Rules Of The Road
Make sure that you pay attention to the rules of the road and posted signs.
Driving a small car has different rules than driving a big box truck, especially if a car attached to the back which makes it considered a “Combination Vehicle”.
In many states, there are different speed limits for heavier vehicles, California is one of them. The general speed limit for cars is 70 mph, but all tractor trailers and other vehicles that are towing a trailer, no matter what size has to run the legal speed limit of 55 mph.
Always make sure to read the speed limit signs to ensure that you are driving at the correct speed limit for the state or city that you are driving through.
Tip 8: No Tailgating
One rule of driving that spans across all vehicles no matter whether you’re driving a motorcycle, car, small truck, tractor trailer, or even a bicycle, is the rule of never tailgating.
When a vehicle is driving too close to the vehicle in front of them, this is considered tailgating.
If you are close to the vehicle in front of you and there is an accident or the vehicle in front of you decides to stop on a dime you will not be able to stop.
If you are not able to stop you or have an accident, both vehicles are likely to sustain extensive damage.
With the likelihood of serious injury to the people in both vehicles.
Tip 9: Make Sure Your Load Is Secure
When loading your box truck with your furniture or other items, make sure that your load is secure.
Use straps to secure items that may roll around in the back of the truck. If you know that you will have items that can possibly move and need to be secure make sure that the truck you rent has a place to hook straps.
Tip 10: Use Moving Blankets
While packing the truck make sure to use moving blankets to cover furniture and other appliances. You can see what they look like by clicking here on Amazon.
Covering furniture will help keep them from getting dented scratched or damaged.
Moving blankets are blankets that have extra padding in them to prevent dents and scratches.
Tip 11: Take A Break
When moving many of us feel that we do not have time to take a break.
Maybe because, you have rented the truck and are paying for every second that you have it or your company has you on a deadline to start work.
But accidents happen when you get in a hurry, when you’re tired, and you’ve been driving long distances.
This is why commercial trucks are limited to driving 11 hours at a time.
Tip 12: Pay Attention To Road Signs
Pay attention to road signs that provide information, such as, weight limits, height, speed, and dangerous turns.
Road signs can be specifically for cars, or for large vehicles, don’t just assume it is for a tractor trailer, you are driving a fairly large truck.
While driving a box truck the driver should be aware of weight limits for bridges and sharp curves, usually these signs posted before you get to the unsafe area.
The sign provides information on the weight limit or the suggested speed to take the sharp curve.
Usually when the sign indicates a sharp curve, there is a posted suggested speed limit.
Always slow down while driving around sharp curves or making turns, if the sign does not have a truck on the sign, this usually means that the posted speed is for a car, you need to slow down even more than the posted limit.
If you have ever driven an SUV you know that it is top-heavy, the same thing is true for a box truck. With weight being distributed at a higher level can cause the vehicle to flip over.
Tip 13: Inspect The Truck
Before you leave always inspect your truck. Things to look for include low tires, little tread on the tires, and any damage that may have happened by other vehicles.
Also make sure to check that all lights, including turn signals, brake lights, and four-way flashers are in working condition.
Before hitting the road, it is a good time to make sure that your windows are clean. When the sun comes up or sets in the evening it is hard to see, but if you have dirty windows it is even harder to see the road ahead of you.
Tip 14: Be Careful When Passing
While driving a box truck always be extremely careful when passing on the interstate highway.
However, if you are on a 2-lane road, it is highly advised that you do not pass other vehicles.
It is harder to accelerate at a fast-enough speed to pass another moving vehicle when you are not used to driving a box truck.
Tip 15: Park With A Plan
When parking a box truck always be sure to park in a safe area.
The area should be clear of low hanging trees and has a firm ground such as pavement or concrete.
It is a good idea to make sure that you park so that you’re not having to back out of the parking spot.
It is much easier to drive forward then it is to back out.
But when doing either make sure that you walk around your vehicle to ensure that there are no children or other things in the vicinity of your truck.
It is always better to double check, then take a chance on hitting someone or something.
Tip 16: Use The Emergency Brake
Always use the emergency brake when parked.
Even when you are not on a hill.
This adds an added layer of protection in case the vehicle is knocked out of gear or on a steep hill.
Tip 17: Know Your Truck Height
Be aware of the truck height. Keep in mind is that the truck you are driving is higher than a standard SUV.
It may not fit under some bridges. If you do not know the height of the truck, take the time to slowly approach the questionable bridge. Get out and look if you feel that you may not make it under.
Also, bridge height is usually marked on a road sign before you go under it. Be on the lookout for height restrictions as you approach the bridge/underpass.
It is much quicker to look, than wait for the tow truck to pull you out from under the bridge.
Tip 18: Take Care Of Your Pets
If you have a pet, whether or not it is a cat, a dog, fish, or even a bird, make sure that the animal is in the front of the truck with you.
It is dangerous to leave an animal in a vehicle unattended. Never leave an animal in a vehicle alone.
It is unsafe to put an animal in the back of the box truck, there is a possibility that items may be thrown around or that there will be too much or too little heat.
Be kind to your animal and keep it beside you.
It is also a good idea to make sure that you are allowed to transport the animal in the vehicle with you. Some moving companies do not allow animals in their vehicles.
Tip 19: Make Sure The Truck Is Visible
When you stop to get something to eat at a restaurant or you park for the night at a motel make sure to park the truck where it is visible to you.
If you are in a restaurant ask to be seated near a window that you can see the truck from.
If you are at a motel ask the attendant where the truck parking lot is, and ask do you have a room that you can view the truck from. (source)
This will help prevent theft of your items.
However, make sure to take all valuable items such as jewelry computers and other electronics with you to keep them safe.
These 19 tips will help you on your moving venture.
The top tips on this list include, be aware of your speed, don’t tailgate, pay attention to road signs, use your mirrors, secure your load, and keep pets in the cab of the truck with you.