Use These Simple Tips to Safely Navigate the Roads in Big, Heavy Moving Vehicles
Moving is really stressful. In fact, most of us think that moving is more stressful than divorce, having kids, or starting a new career (source: NYP). And the things that stress us out the most about moving are having to physically move furniture, packing, and deciding what to keep versus throw out (source: NYP).
Guess what didn’t make the list of top moving stresses?
Driving a moving truck.
Yet, driving a truck isn’t easy. It can actually be extremely challenging and highly risky — especially when it’s fully loaded and you’re not used to driving such a large, heavy vehicle.
To reduce the risks and not create more headaches for your move, get up to speed with how to safely drive moving trucks with these essential safety tips. These are easy things you can do before, during, and after your journey to make your trip safer and keep your move well on its way!
Before You Take Off: 4 Safety Tips for Operating Moving Trucks
Don’t jump behind the wheel of a moving van or truck until you’ve done these four easy things. Taking these steps can set you up for a safe trip on the roads.
1. Load Carefully
How you load a moving truck can affect how that vehicle handles. In fact, if you don’t load a moving van or truck properly, boxes and other items can shift and move around while you’re driving. That can throw off the vehicle’s center of balance, making it much more challenging to safely control the moving truck. To properly load a moving van or truck:
- Put the heaviest items along the bottom, back, and sides of the truck, with the weight distributed as evenly as possible.
- Put the lighter, more fragile objects at the top.
- Don’t stack items too high. Otherwise, they could topple in transport.
- Use padding, blankets, and/or straps to protect and secure items.
2. Adjust Seats & Mirrors
Get in the moving truck and get everything from the seat to the side and rearview mirrors adjusted to your liking. Make sure you understand where all the controls are, including the parking brake, lights, and windshield wipers. You don’t want any surprises when you’re on the road, so make sure everything’s properly adjusted and ready to go for your journey.
3. Check the Weather
Bad weather can create big problems for heavy moving trucks. From visibility to steering, stopping, and more, driving a fully loaded moving truck in heavy rains, dense fog, or other adverse weather can be a recipe for disaster.
So, don’t put yourself in a more dangerous position. Check the weather:
- Days in advance while you’re making plans
- The morning of moving day before you take off
You don’t want to be trapped on the roads, driving a moving truck in a terrible storm and white-knuckling your way to avoid a crash. That’s 100% avoidable.
4. Use a Spotter
A spotter is simply someone who stands outside of the truck to give you another set of eyes and more guidance when it’s time to make trickier maneuvers. Choose a spotter ahead of time and set up a couple of simple hand signals with your spotter. This can help you two easily communicate from inside and outside the moving truck while you’re backing up, turning, or trying to enter narrow spaces.
On the Road: 4 Tips for Safely Driving a Moving Truck
Once the moving truck’s loaded and ready to roll, here are the most important things to remember as you hit the road.
1. Slow Down
You need to take it a lot slower in a heavy moving van or truck than you would in a standard car. That means not exceeding the speed limit and taking it slower when conditions get more complicated — like when there’s congestion, bad weather, or poor road conditions.
2. Stop Sooner
It takes a lot more braking force and distance to bring fully loaded moving trucks to a halt, when compared to the average car. So, don’t wait until the last minute to apply the brakes when you’re driving a moving truck or van. You need to be slowing down a lot sooner. That also means you need to stay hyper-vigilant to your surroundings, so you can spot brake lights, red lights, stop signs, and other important cues ASAP and respond safely and appropriately.
3. Leave More Room
Whether you’re following other cars, changing lanes, or making a right or left turn, leave yourself more room than you think you need when you’re driving a moving truck. These larger vehicles require more distance to stop, and they have far more blind spots than the average car. To maneuver them safely in traffic, it’s crucial to leave enough space around the moving truck at all times.
4. Follow the Rules of the Road
This should go without saying, but it can be easy to forget when you’re stressed out and you’re operating an unfamiliar vehicle. Nonetheless, follow basic traffic laws, from using blinkers and yielding the right of way to complying with traffic signs and signals and being where other drivers expect you to be. That can go a long way to keeping you safe, even if you make a minor mistake while driving a moving truck.
When You Arrive: 3 Safety Tips for Parking Moving Trucks & Vans
Once you get to your destination, you’ll need to safely park the moving truck, so you can unload it. Here are a few easy things you can do to get moving vehicles parked safely.
1. Look for Spacious Parking Areas
Ideally, you’d want to find a parking space with enough room for you to pull in forward and not have to back up. Avoid trying to squeeze into tight spaces because you may get pinned in or even cause a fender bender trying to park.
2. Use a Spotter
Again, rely on a spotter to guide the truck into any driveways, garages, or tight parking spaces you need to get into. Your spotter can see things you can’t, and that can make all the difference between safe versus disastrous parking with a moving truck.
3. Always Use the Parking Brake
After you’ve maneuvered the moving van or truck into a spot, always activate the parking brake before you get out of the vehicle. This will prevent the truck from shifting and/or moving as you unload it.
How to Safely Drive a Moving Truck or Van: Final Thoughts
When it comes to safely driving a moving vehicle, the most important things to remember are that:
- Moving vehicles do not handle the same way as standard cars or pickup trucks.
- What you know and what you do before, during, and after your time on the roads can make a major difference in safety — whether you’re driving a moving truck or any other vehicle on the roads.