If you are renting a moving truck, it is important to read through the truck user instructions. I know many people might be thinking, “well, I drive everyday. I know how to use a truck. What more is there to using a moving truck than what I already know? While operating a moving truck does utilize your basic driving techniques, there are things that you should avoid doing while operating a U-Haul truck to ensure your safety on the road. The truck User Instructions are full of great safety tips and you will notice the safety alert symbol, pictured below, before all safety messages. The safety alert symbol alerts you to possible hazards and instructs you on how to avoid or reduce the risk of injury. Provided below is a list of 5 common mistakes to avoid while operating a moving truck:
1. Don’t allow passengers or pets to ride in the cargo area. A teenager might think it’s the greatest idea ever to ride in the back of the moving truck, but it is against the law and is also very dangerous. Passengers or pets riding in the cargo area risk injury due to shifting cargo, asphyxiation, and lack of collision protection. Please make sure that passengers ride in the cab with a safety belt, or ride in another car to your moving destination.
2. Don’t transport hazardous materials, corrosives, explosives or flammables. This may sound like an obvious one, but there are household items you may pack in a moving truck without thinking they are hazardous. Certain cleaning supplies, such as bleach, do not mix well with other cleaning supplies. Placing these items in one box and loading them in the back of a U-Haul can cause problems, especially if the box gets smashed, the chemicals mix, or the temperature changes inside the cargo area. It is best to dispose of these cleaning supplies before your move and buy new ones at your destination. Usually cleaning supplies are inexpensive so you’re not wasting too much money. Other items to be conscious of are propane barbecue grills, lawn mowers, camp stoves, lanterns and vehicles. It’s easy to leave the BBQ grill or lawn mower as one of the last items to throw in the truck before taking off. But it is extremely dangerous to transport items that have the ability to leak gas or produce flammable fumes. The cargo area is not airtight but it also has no ventilation. It is best to turn the propane tank completely off and disconnect it from a BBQ and empty out any gas tanks or containers with flammable material before transporting.
3. Don’t drive your moving truck through a McDonald’s drive-thru. You’re tired from a long day on the road, so you stop at Mickey D’s after seeing the golden arches from the highway, you cant find a good parking spot for the truck so you drive straight for the drive-thru. U-Haul Trucks are much taller than normal passenger cars, and when you add fatigue and hunger into the equation, its a recipe for a McDisaster. If you don’t know the overhead clearance, get out of the truck and make sure you are clear of any obstructions. Watch out for drive-thru restaurants, hotel overhangs, service-station canopies, bridges, balconies, trees, electrical wires, and parking garages. Many overhead obstructions are not posted for clearance. Plan your route ahead of time. There are some areas of the country that still have low bridges. Pay attention to the road signs.
4. Don’t speed! It’s easy to feel invincible when driving a rental truck. You are above everyone else on the road, you command respect, you start talking in trucker code. Driving a moving truck can be fun, but it also comes with the responsibility to drive safely by reducing your speed. Reduce your speed from what you would normally drive in your car under similar conditions. A loaded rental truck weighs a lot more than a normal car, and takes more time to slow down and stop. By reducing your speed, anticipating stops, breaking early and never following closely, you can stay safe and reduce the risk of accidents. Allow at least 3 seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you.
5. Don’t overload the truck. Every U-Haul Truck has a gross (fully-loaded) vehicle weight rating (GVWR) posted on the bottom of the driver’s and passenger doors as well as on the decal on the driver’s side door post, that is not to be exceeded. Many movers will pack their rental truck to the brim in order to get all their belongings transported in one trip. This is generally fine– if you are only transporting typical household items. But, if you have heavy items you should be concerned with overloading. Have the truck weighed if you are uncertain if it may be overloaded, to be sure the truck is within the GVWR.
Have you seen movers do any of these things on the list? Are there any moving safety tips you would like to share with our readers? Please let us know in the comments below.