For a lot of people, the first time driving a truck can be a nerve-wracking experience. Driving a truck isn’t like driving a car. A truck is bigger, heavier and slower to accelerate. It won’t handle corners as well as your family car and braking distances will be greater.
Whether you’re moving house or picking up some new furniture, when it comes to truck hire you need to be prepared to handle a vehicle that’s very different from what you’re used to. Proper handling of your hire truck will not only ensure your safety and the safety of other road users, but it will also ensure your load arrives undamaged. And of course, it will ensure you return the truck undamaged, which will save you money and stress.
So, if you’re inexperienced when it comes to driving a hire truck, we have some useful information you should know before jumping behind the wheel.
Familiarise yourself with the vehicle
Before you jump in the truck, take a walk around it to help familiarise yourself with its size and layout. Make note of its height, length, width and which side the fuel cap is on. Having a general idea of the external dimensions of the vehicle will help you move safely through traffic and around obstacles on the road.
It’s important to check the paperwork for the actual vehicle dimensions, especially the height of the truck, so you know whether you need to avoid any roads or car parks with height restrictions.
Get yourself set up
Once you’re behind the wheel, take the time to get the cabin properly set up and find out where everything is. Adjust your seat and steering wheel to a comfortable driving position. Check where your blind spots are and adjust your side mirrors accordingly.
Take a moment to check where all essential driving controls are located, such as indicators, windscreen wipers, horn, air conditioning controls, GPS and so on. You don’t want to be trying to find these controls while you’re driving.
Get used to it
Before you get the truck out into traffic, it’s worth taking the time to get used to handling it.If possible, take it for a test drive around some quiet roads or a car park. Get used to the length and width of the vehicle and test the acceleration and braking.
Since they weigh more, trucks tend to have more powerful brakes than passenger cars.As a result, truck brakes can be much more sensitive. It’s worth getting used to this before you get into a traffic situation.
Secure your load
Once you’ve loaded up your truck, it’s essential that you properly secure your load. Unsecured loads can damage your truck as well as creating major hazards for other road users. Failure to properly secure a load can also result in hefty fines.
Whether you’re driving an open-backed or an enclosed truck, you need to ensure you’ve properly secured your load with the properly rated restraints. Even if there’s no chance it will fall out, an unsecured load can move around in the back of the truck, potentially damaging the inside of the truck as well as upsetting the truck’s weight balance.
Once you’ve got the truck out on the road, you need to take even more care than normal and drive slower than you usually would. Your truck will be bigger and heavier than you’re used to. It won’t corner very well, acceleration will be slower and your braking distance will be longer. That means leaving greater distances between yourself and the vehicle in front of you.
Spatial awareness is also very important. Since the truck will be bigger than you’re used to, it will take up more room on the road and you won’t be able to fit into gaps that your car would. Be aware of this size difference, watch out for overhead obstacles (like signs and branches) and check your mirrors a lot! Read 5 Benefits of Truck and Crane Hire Service
If you’re unused to driving a truck, then you’ll want to avoid heavy traffic as much as possible. Try to plan your trip to avoid travelling at peak hour. Try to plan a route that avoids tight backstreets and doesn’t have any height restrictions. And make sure you have adequate parking space at the start and finish of the journey.
By taking the time to get to know your hire truck, testing it out and taking extra care on the road, you can make sure that you, your load and your truck arrive safely every time.