Tips for Driving a Big Truck
Do you need to learn some quick tips for driving a big truck? If so, you’ve come to the right place.
When you’re used to driving small cars, getting behind the wheel of anything bigger than a minivan can be very daunting, and even terrifying. As you might imagine, even if the controls are the same as in your average sedan, the added size and weight can result in a very different driving experience. If you don’t have the right knowledge and tips for driving a big truck, you could get caught off guard and even end up needing a car accident attorney.
After all, one false move on the road could end in disaster. Even though there are countless urgent care centers located throughout the United States, preventing an accident from the start is the best course of action. Most people have to go to an urgent care to get minor scrapes and bruises checked out. While this can occur as the result of an accident, some people might end up in the emergency room because of concussions or broken bones. While you’re likely safer in a big truck than a smaller car, there are a range of obstacles that can stop your success as a driver if you aren’t careful.
At the end of the day, driving a big truck is nothing like driving a small car: you have a wider turn radius, you’re higher up, and it’s much harder to see small cars and motorcycles that zip in and out of traffic. There are a number of health issues associated with driving in general but navigating a big truck can result in more accidents if you try to drive on the open road but lack the necessary experience. This is just one of the reasons why people rely on moving companies when a big move comes around. Having the extra hands to make the move possible is nice, but relying on a professional to operate a big truck is even better.
If you’ve found yourself in a situation where you need to drive a pickup truck, moving van, or other large vehicle for the first time, never fear: this article will discuss some of the most important tips for driving a big truck, as well as important maintenance and legal tips. By the time we’re finished, you’ll know all of the best tips for driving a big truck.
General Tips for Driving a Big Truck
When you drive a pickup truck or any other large vehicle for the first time, the first thing to remember is to maintain perspective. That means being aware of where the truck is, relative to its environment, and making sure the road around you is clearly visible. For starters, you must remember at all times that the truck is bigger than any sedan or coupe you may have driven in the past. With that in mind, you must be especially respectful of the area around you, and take care not to get too close to railings, sign posts, or other vehicles.
To help you keep track of your environment, it’s critically important that your windows are unobstructed and your mirrors are lined up for an optimal range of vision. Whenever you back up, change lanes, or turn, you must look around you carefully, both through the truck’s windows and in its mirrors. Don’t forget to err on the side of caution here: it’s better to give other drivers more space than they need than to accidentally get too close. The hood and bed of your truck extend a long way out, and it will take some time for you to figure out exactly where everything is relative to the truck.
Don’t drive too fast in a large truck. A large pickup truck can weigh an entire ton more than a small car, which means stopping quickly can be difficult, or even impossible. The last thing you want is to rear-end someone and give them whiplash because your truck couldn’t stop in time. Accelerate carefully, try to stay below the speed limit until you’re comfortable, and use your brakes sooner than you feel like you should need to when you approach a stop. You should drive especially slowly when you’re going in reverse, and look carefully all around you.
When driving a large vehicle, the brake pedal is your best friend: don’t be afraid to use it frequently, as it just might help you avoid an accident. Braking isn’t the only thing that’s slower in a large truck: making turns takes a little longer in a larger vehicle as well. Unlike some small cars, your truck is too long to turn on a dime. When you approach a turn, remember to slow down early. Then slowly start turning the wheel, as soon as you can, to make your turn as wide as reasonably possible. You’ll get used to turning and braking with practice, but until you get used to it, it’s best to go slowly at first.
Another important tip is to help keep your automotive repair service in business by staying on top of truck maintenance. Auto maintenance is critically important, both for the longevity of your vehicle and for your safety. But in a recent survey, it was found that roughly 77% of all cars were in need of repairs or maintenance.
If auto repairs are important for small cars, they’re even more necessary for large trucks. While any vehicle in need of repair can be dangerous to yourself and other drivers, trucks are larger and heavier, and can cause even more damage if they get out of control. So when it comes to tips for driving a big truck, one of the first is to make sure it stays in good condition with things like oil changes, tire replacement, and car body repair.
Tips for Moving Vans and Other Large Vehicles
Our next few tips for driving a big truck involve working with trucks a step above pickups, such as large moving vans. Is it hard to drive a big rig? In short, yes.
If you’re renting a vehicle to transport something, your first challenge will be to choose the right one. When it comes to renting a vehicle, luxury car rentals may be the most exciting, but nothing beats a large truck when you’re moving or need to haul a heavy load. However, choosing a truck that’s too big or too small can be both an inconvenience and a safety hazard.
Obviously, the size and type of vehicle you need will depend on the size of the load you’ll be transporting. If you get a truck that’s too small, you’ll either not have enough space or end up stacking things incorrectly. If you get one that’s too big, it will be harder than necessary to drive, and things could fall and break because there’s too much space between them.
If you’re moving out of a studio apartment with minimal furniture, or if you’re only moving a couple of rooms worth of belongings, a regular cargo van should do the trick. It’s especially ideal for moving between college dorms.
Next up in size is the small moving truck, which is good for well-furnished studio and one-bedroom apartments. After that, a medium-sized moving truck would be excellent for moving two- to three-bedroom apartments or small houses.
You should only need a large moving truck if you’re moving the equivalent of a four- to seven-bedroom home. Even if you need that much space, you should consider whether or not it’s really worth it to rent a truck that large. If you have less experience driving a big truck or don’t have that far to travel, it might be a better idea to make two trips with a smaller vehicle.
Once you’ve chosen your truck, you should take it to a vacant parking lot or other empty space and practice driving around in it. While the steering wheel, pedals, and controls all work roughly the same as they do in a smaller car, any large vehicle is going to feel very different and take some getting used to. It’s far better to get some practice in before leaving on your trip, preferably not only a busy road, which is why taking a spin through a parking lot is ideal. As with pickup trucks, the most important things to watch for are difficulties backing up, making turns, and stopping. Because of the truck’s size, turns have to be made wide and taken slowly, and because of its weight, you must watch carefully before going in reverse and step on the brakes sooner than you might feel is necessary. Also avoid accelerating quickly, as this can put you at risk of losing control. Keep in mind that, while a moving van or large truck is heavy at all times, it’s going to weigh even more once it’s been loaded, which will cause it to feel slightly different when driving.
Another helpful thing to remember about large trucks and vans is that they aren’t always insulated well, and their heaters and air conditions are sometimes prone to breaking. Considering that you normally use these vehicles for very long trips, you can imagine how uncomfortable this would be in both hot and cold climates. If you have a truck with a broken heater or AC, you can always get it fixed with aftermarket HVAC motors, which you can either install yourself or hire someone to install for you.
Making Your Way Around a Semi Truck
No list of tips for driving a big truck would be complete without mentioning the biggest trucks on the road, commonly known as semis, eighteen-wheelers, or big rigs.
It should be noted that driving a semitrailer is a serious skill that the best truckers will spend their entire careers perfecting. There’s a lot more to it than following GPS directions and truck body selection — a truck driver must know his truck like the back of his hand, be aware of his surroundings and size, and know-how to navigate effectively, with or without a GPS. It’s no surprise that truckers require special certification to work in the industry.
But if you’re only curious, or if you only need to drive a big truck a few yards in a parking lot or something, a few tips may help you get it figured out.
Perhaps the most important advice for any truck driver is to constantly be aware of your trailer. Even if you aren’t taking a big rig onto the highway, a semi trailer can act like a weapon if you aren’t paying careful attention to it, hurting people and property. You must be especially watchful any time you’re backing up, but you should still keep an eye on it even when you’re driving straight ahead and are sure it’s fine.
Another good piece of advice is to pay attention to your wheel path. This mostly applies to when you’re driving in reverse: when you have a spot you want to back into, look right at the place where you want your wheel to go, and focus on slowly directing the trailer there. You’ll be surprised by how close you get, especially if you spend some time practicing your accuracy. Backing a trailer is an art form on its own, but it’s not as scary as it may seem. When in doubt, remember to get out of your truck and take a look behind and around you.
Finally, you should never be afraid to ask a trainer or more experienced driver for help. This goes for someone who’s already a professional truck driver, as well as anyone who just needs to drive one through the parking lot of a shipment center for work. There’s a lot that inexperienced drivers can learn from those who came before them, and those with the knowledge to share are usually eager to share it. It just might prevent an accident or save a life, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.
What to Do if You Get in Legal Trouble in a Large Vehicle
Getting pulled over or ending up in an accident is frightening in the best of circumstances, but when you’re driving a vehicle that already feels too big for you, it’s even scarier. So our final tips for driving a big truck will involve what to do if you get into trouble, especially in the winter where truck winter driving tips are essential. Always have on hand a a contact for a 24 7 fleet roadside assistance company in case that it is needed.
If you’re moving to a new home or transporting something heavy, chances are you rented the truck that you’re driving. When a rented moving truck is involved in an accident, determining liability and compensating the victims is a little more complicated. In most cases, the company that owns the truck will be held responsible for the accident if it was caused by a damaged or unmaintained truck. However, in most accidents, one or more of the drivers will be at fault, and the driver of a rented truck is solely responsible if their own negligence caused the accident.
If you get in an accident, remember to do the following:
- First, make sure you and any passengers with you are okay, and then check on anyone else involved in the crash. Do not admit fault to anyone or react with anger. If you or anyone else is hurt, call an ambulance right away.
- Next, take pictures of the scene of the accident. Take special note of damage done to the truck and other vehicles. If you can, get security footage or dash cam videos afterward.
- Get the contact information of any eyewitnesses, and try to interview them later for testimonies and statements.
- If the police investigate the accident, request a copy of the police report afterwards.
- Take pictures of any injuries you sustained, and hang on to doctor’s notes and medical receipts.
- Print copies of receipts or payments made to the owner of the truck.
- Finally, contact an auto accident attorney with experience in filing claims related to rental truck accidents.
If you get pulled over while driving, respond in the same way that you would if you were driving your normal car. Just be extra careful as you move to the side of the road, and be mindful of your trailer or truck bed.
As long as you drive carefully, it’s unlikely that you’d go to jail after getting pulled over or in an accident. But if you do, don’t forget that you can work with bail bonds agents to get out and prepare for your trial with minimal expense.
As you can see, the best tips for driving a big truck aren’t always complicated. From maintaining your vehicle to calling a bail bondsman in the event of legal trouble, you now know our top tips for driving a big truck.