No matter how far your new home is located, a residential move tends to give you various options to approach most of the move related issues in order to select the relocation path that will prove beneficial for you on different levels. Moving from one home to another is often considered a stressful period where you will be expected and even forced to make an overwhelming number of decisions that range from what to wear on moving day to which long distance mover to choose.
Yes, moving is a real test of your decision-making abilities, and if you’ve already weighed in your available options and chosen to move by yourself, then sooner or later the question of how to drive a rental truck when moving cross country will take center stage. And when that happens, you’d better have some good answers.
Remember that driving a moving truck cross country is anything but a walk in the park, and safety is paramount! If you’re a first time renter, then you must read the following 10 safety tips for driving a rental truck before you embark on that unique relocation adventure.
SEE ALSO: How to rent a moving truck
1. Get to know your new heavy-weight friend
The truck rental company is supposed to give you a crash course on driving a moving truck across country, but it’s your duty to examine the vehicle first and learn more about how its basic controls work. Adjust the side-view mirrors, make sure you know how to operate the turn signals, windshield wipers, all interior and exterior lights, parking brake, heater, and so on. Also, learn more what to expect from the rental truck’s fuel consumption and speak again with the rental agent whether or not you will need to purchase moving insurance or not.
Remember: always fasten the seat belt – it’s the LAW!
2. More mass means more trouble
It’s important to keep in mind that a moving truck (regardless of its exact capacity) is not your family car. And due to their heavy weight category, rented moving vehicles require much more time to accelerate and stop than a standard automobile. As a result of the longer braking distance, you need to leave enough space between the truck you’re driving and the vehicle just in front of you in case the latter stops suddenly.
Remember: you must never tailgate when driving a rental moving truck.
READ ALSO: How to load a moving truck
3. Backing up is your worst enemy
Backing up with your own car can be sometimes tough but doing it with a huge moving truck can be a real challenge. Do not back up when you can effectively avoid it, so try to always position your rented vehicle in a way so that it will be able to exit forward. However, if you must do it, use your rear-view mirrors extensively, and if possible, ask your passenger friend to get out of the vehicle and give you directions to avoid hitting something.
Remember: whenever you park your moving truck rental, always apply the parking brake.
4. Side-view mirrors can be your life-savers
Unlike passenger cars, moving trucks don’t have a rear-view mirror that is conveniently centered just above your dashboard. This is why your only eyes behind you are the side-view mirrors whenever you need to change lanes, make turns or complete more complex maneuvers, like parking. As mentioned above, to avoid having to use the truck mirrors while backing up – something you should definitely avoid whenever possible, you should stay away from tight places and look for parking lots that will actually let you drive forward as you exit them.
5. Turns will be trickier than usual
If you’re asking yourself, “How hard is it to drive a rental truck?”, this think about this – even turning a corner will be a step out of your comfort zone. Moving trucks need much more space to turn than a standard passenger car so even a slight misjudgment could get you into trouble. You must make your turns way wider than usual (especially right turns!) to avoid hitting a curb or maybe even another vehicle. So, before you even begin to make a turn, make sure you have ample space from the corner and from all the cars next to you.
6. Your rental truck is not a sports car
Although you’re probably too eager to reach your destination and start unpacking ASAP, the thing to remember here is that driving a moving truck cross country is not a race. Rather, it’s all about safety – yours and that of your belongings safely packed up and loaded in the back. Observe the speed limits at all times as speeding in a huge loaded truck is extremely dangerous. It’s okay to be driving much slower than usual – just wave “Bye-bye” to any vehicles in a great hurry to overtake you. You yourself should refrain from overtaking other cars on hills, curved or narrow roads, or anywhere else where you don’t feel 100% comfortable doing it.
Remember: haste makes waste.
SEE ALSO: What costly self-move mistakes to avoid?
7. Height clearance is a thing to worry about
You don’t pay much attention to the height clearance signs when driving your car, do you? This time it’s different. Most moving trucks come close to reaching that clearance restriction, and some even surpass it. Make sure you memorize just how tall the moving truck rental is and keep a close watch on those warning signs whenever you approach a low-clearance passage like a tunnel or a bridge.
Remember: do not drive under an underpass until you are absolutely sure the rented truck will fit without any problems.
8. Weigh stations? What are those?
It’s interesting to note that some states require rental trucks to stop at weight stations while others don’t. Do consult your move route and look up in advance the states you’ll be passing through and their requirements concerning weigh stations. Doing your homework in advance will save you valuable time and keep you from trouble – you can get fined for failure to stop at a weigh station when required by law. Get that list from the rental truck driving service to save time or get in touch with each state’s Department of Transportation to find out for sure.
9. Obey the rules of the road
Not only do you need to take into account all the above safety tips for driving a moving truck, but you also must observe the weather conditions and act accordingly. Adverse climatic conditions such as mountainous terrain, rain, snow, ice or strong winds is a sure sign that you need to slow down even more and drive with extreme caution. Your surroundings may change in a matter of seconds so you are expected to be fully alert and cautious at all times.
Remember: follow the rules of the road strictly to avoid accidents while driving a large moving truck.
10. Bonus advice on how to drive a moving truck rental
We finish our advice on how to drive a moving truck by answering 2 important questions that often worry people who have chosen to move on their own.
- How old do you have to be to drive a rental truck? The majority of truck rental agencies require their customers to be at least 18 years of old to rent their vehicles (U-Haul, Penske), while a small number of other truck rental companies require the age to drive a rental truck to be 24 (Budget).
- Do you need a special license to drive a rental truck? Rental trucks are not considered commercial vehicles so they can be driven with a regular driver’s license.
Remember: if what you’ve read so far sounds too much for you, then hiring full service movers is the way to go.
MUST READ: How much does a self-move really cost?