How to Not Suck at Driving a Moving Truck

Click the image to see the full infographic!

Click the image to see the full infographic!

It’s an important detail to consider as you plan a do-it-yourself apartment move: can I drive the moving truck?

Will mayhem be the result?

For me, personally, I would suspect the latter, and some of you may feel that way, too.

A moving truck – at least a larger-sized one — is likely the largest vehicle the typical driver would have an opportunity to command.

So, in deciding whether to go with a professional move or a self-service one, movers really must determine their comfort level with driving this kind of vehicle.

Consider these questions and tips to help make up your mind.

How much stuff do you have to move?
In a real way, the amount of stuff you have to transport from one place to another determines the size moving truck you’d need to rent. Smaller is better, or, at least, easier to drive.

Truck rental companies offer a variety of truck sizes. To save money and to make your drive easier, rent the smallest one that will accommodate your move. If you’re moving locally and can make multiple trips, again, consider a smaller vehicle, which should drive more like a large SUV than an 18-wheeler.

It’s a good idea to reserve your preferred moving dates in advance to pin down the size truck you’ll feel most comfortable driving.

What’s your comfort level with driving a larger vehicle like a moving truck?

What’s your comfort level with driving a larger vehicle like a moving truck?

Practical tips for the drive
Safe driving is the order of the day. After all, the goal is to avoid an accident!

Does thinking about any of these tips make you sweat?

  1. Before you begin to drive, familiarize yourself with mirror placement. Realize that a large truck requires considerably more clearance to make turns, especially right ones.
  2. Make sure you are comfortable with the controls of the truck before you start the engine. This includes how to turn on the lights and windshield wipers.
  3. Keep in mind that you are driving a vehicle with more mass than a car. Braking will require more time than you’re accustomed to.
  4. Leave extra room between the truck and other vehicles in front of you. Err on the side of caution as you approach other cars, and never tailgate. Turn signals are your friends.
  5. Refrain from passing other vehicles on curves, hills, narrow roadways or in any setting where your instincts suggest caution. Change lanes only when plenty of roadway is available.
  6. Always maintain a conservative speed. Don’t get in a hurry!
  7. If you can avoid it, don’t back up. Position the vehicle so that it can exit face-forward.
  8. After you park, apply the brake. Turn the wheel toward the curb if the truck is inclined downhill, away from the curb if uphill.
  9. If possible, fuel up the truck once, at the beginning of your trip.
  10. Watch your “max headroom.” Go around low-clearance overpasses when it’s feasible.

Packing the truck
Ensure you’ve packed your moving truck with safety in mind. You’ll want to position and secure your things so that items don’t move too much in transit. This protects both your belongings and yourself, when you open the truck doors at the end of the trip!

What’s the weather like?
Inclement weather conditions for your drive could have a real effect on your safety and comfort level. Follow the weather conditions for your trip closely. Allow extra time if the drive is treacherous.

Study the route
Ensure you have a clear understanding of the route you’ll take, before you begin. It’s great to use your cellphone or a GPS device for directions, but also have a paper map and a hard copy of the directions on hand, in case you lose signal strength en route.

If you will be driving in unfamiliar territory, be prepared to make a few wrong turns without getting flustered! It’s also great if you can take turns driving with a buddy, especially for a long trip.

Gut check time: Do you see yourself in the driver’s seat?
As a driver, are you able to stay vigilant and adapt quickly – say, before you and a truck wind up in a compromised position…say, a ditch?

Before you commit to the drive, it’s best to take a gut check. If your instincts scream “danger,” keep in mind that there are options even with self-service moves. Some companies, for instance, offer the services of professional drivers whose only role is to get the vehicle from the origination point to its destination.

Of course, using your own personal “best driver” skills should help reduce the stress level.

Check out helpful driving tips from Penske here.

From my wise-guy friend: Wise-guy: “if you’re driving it, isn’t it, by definition, a MOVING truck?”

From my wise-guy friend: “If you’re driving it, isn’t it, by definition, a MOVING truck?”

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Christian Lagerek, 3DDock

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