Most of us drive a vehicle no larger than meets our needs. We have four doors, a reasonably sized trunk, and maybe a sunroof. But when you’re planning a DIY move, you’re suddenly faced with driving a big, square truck with all your personal possessions in the back. Here are a few safety tips from our experienced experts:
Driving Your Truck Across Town
Local moves are shorter, but can be just as stressful.
Map a quiet route across town, avoiding major highways, railroad tracks, school zones, and high-traffic areas like downtown intersections or main thoroughfares. By taking a slower, longer route, you’ll feel more confident in your driving and less rushed into making quick decisions, which can lead to mistakes.
Fill the moving truck up with gas before you pack it. That way you’re not calling AAA two miles from your new home for a top off. And you’re not leaving a truck full of your worldly belongings unattended while you pop in to pay for fuel.
Which brings us to another point: Don’t leave your moving truck unattended. It may seem like a great idea to stop off at the grocery store so you can bake a freezer pizza while unloading your boxes. But we’re guessing that on a short move across town, you didn’t feel it necessary to buy a new lock for the truck bay. So save yourself the insurance claims and despair, and just power through to the new house. Because you know, if it’s not DiGiorno, it’s delivery.
A final tip to be aware of in cross-town moves: Your moving truck has a really wide turning radius. You won’t be able to just swing around the corner of 5th and Vine like you do in your Camry. Make sure you begin to brake earlier than you’re used to and turn corners carefully – moving vans are taller than normal cars too, and can be very top-heavy. You don’t want your priceless Prince Valiant action hero collection strewn across the intersection at rush hour, do you?
Driving Your Truck Across the Country
While local moves can be intimidating, interstate moves can bring on full panic attacks. Planning for the unknown and a little creativity can help take the stress out of a 30+ hour drive. Try these ideas:
Map a safe route for the truck to follow. Know how tall your truck is, in case you encounter low bridges or overpasses. Plan alternate routes around big cities – if you run into a snarl of traffic or arrive later than expected, it may be your saving grace to avoiding rush hour. Research the weather in states you’re passing through – for instance, Wyoming highways are subject to high crosswinds, and in a moving truck, crosswinds are terrifying. Kansas is incredibly flat and very boring – we recommend driving it at night. And you should always fill up at a gas station whenever you see one in the desert states – you never know when you’ll see another.
Have an expert pack your truck. When the truck is going hundreds of miles to your new home, a lot of settling and shifting can occur. By hiring an expert packer, you’re relieving yourself of manual labor before a long drive and guaranteeing that the truck will be packed securely. Expert packers know how to stack furniture and boxes for the maximum space saving and minimum shifting.
Keep your speed and following distances consistent. It may be tempting to rush through areas where there’s not much to look at, but by setting cruise control and leaving plenty of room between you and other vehicles, you’re improving your gas mileage and keeping yourself safe. [Side note: Don’t forget to save all your gas receipts if you’re moving cross-country – that kind of move can be tax deductible!]
And the best driving advice for an interstate move is this: rest often. We recommend drinking plenty of fluids because they encourage you to stop for frequent stretches and breaks, and this keeps you alert. Don’t be afraid to stop and see the sites. It’s not every day you get to drive your life across the heart of America – you might as well enjoy the ride!
Image by Sheila Scarborough/Flickr