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How to Safely Drive a Moving Truck with a Trailer

How to Safely Drive a Moving Truck with a Trailer
September 17, 2021

In all the steps of preparing for a cross-country move, a significant one is deciding whether or not to rent and drive the moving truck yourself. This can be a big step to take, particularly because many people today don’t have extensive or even limited experience driving a larger vehicle, let alone a larger vehicle pulling additional weight at the back. 

We’ll walk you through some steps that will help you figure out how to safely drive a moving truck with a trailer. With the steps we provide, you’ll be better prepared to tackle the new and exciting adventure of moving cross-country.

How to Safely Drive with a Trailer

There are a few things to keep in mind when figuring out how to safely drive with a trailer. Take a look at our suggestions for accomplishing this task. 

Before Driving the Truck and Trailer

  • Start by inspecting the truck and trailer before you drive. It’s very important to take stock and inventory of the truck before you start driving it and the trailer before pulling it. Look everything over from top to bottom to make sure things are good. 
  • Examine the tires. Make sure the tires on the truck and trailer are in good shape before driving and that the air pressure is where it should be. 
  • Check for damage on the exterior and interior. It’s always a good practice to check the interior and exterior of a rental vehicle before you drive away with it. Take stock of any scrapes, scratches, or damage so that you can show the rental company you weren’t responsible for them when you turn it back in. You should also check out the trailer for signs of damage. 
  • Be sure to adjust the mirrors. Trucks are bigger than sedans or SUVs. Keep that in mind when you get into the truck to drive it, and be sure to adjust your mirrors as needed.
  • Be aware of the gas levels in the truck. Check the tank level when you start the engine. Be aware of how much is in it, if you need to fill it up right away, etc. 
  • Know towing capabilities. Look into the maximum weight your truck can tow and make sure the trailer you’re pulling doesn’t go above that. 

While Driving the Truck and Trailer

  • Release the emergency brake. Don’t drive with the emergency brake engaged. It’s very bad for the truck. Double-check that it’s not on before you press on the gas.
  • Build desired speed gradually. You’re going to be driving a large heavier vehicle made doubly so by the weight it’s pulling, and this means you need to drive it right. It won’t accelerate like a smaller car, so we recommend building up speed gradually. 
  • Slow truck gradually. Slowing down a big truck pulling lots of weight should happen gradually. The truck won’t brake or react as quickly as a sedan, so keep that in mind as you prepare to stop.
  • Keep space for wider turns: A truck—especially one pulling a trailer—needs more space to maneuver in a turn, whether right or left. Be sure to keep plenty of space between you and the road or other vehicles when turning.
  • Take your time switching lanes. You’re in a large truck, and you’re hauling a trailer, so this means you take up a significant amount of space on the road. Be careful and take your time when switching lanes. Be cautious and make sure you have enough room.
  • Only pass if necessary. Avoid trying to pass other vehicles on uphill climbs or narrow roads. You’re going to be bigger than a lot of other vehicles on the road, and trying to pass others with the amount of space you take up will be unnecessarily dangerous. 
  • Keep space between you and other vehicles. If you’re not comfortable with how close you might feel next to other cars on the road, we suggest slowing down. Create the space you need to feel safe and secure behind the wheel.
  • Go slower in bad weather. Rain, snow, or other forms of inclement weather are dangerous for all drivers. Be safe and drive very cautiously in bad weather, especially when driving a truck pulling a trailer
  • Watch for truck signs. There may be signs on highways or freeways that give specific instructions to truck drivers. Watch out for these and be sure to abide by the rules. 

Parking the Truck and Trailer

  • Find someone to help you back up if necessary. Maneuvering a truck with a trailer is tricky. We recommend finding someone nearby or having a family member or friend on hand to help you navigate the truck and trailer if you need to back up. 
  • Use the emergency brake. You’ve got a lot of weight from both the truck and the trailer it’s towing, so keep that emergency brake on whenever the vehicle is parked and turned off. 
  • Turn wheels the proper way when parked. Keep the wheels turned away from the curb if you’re parking uphill and turned into a curb if you’ve parked downhill. Losing control of the truck and trailer is unlikely, but if it does happen, the positioning of the wheels will work in your favor to prevent serious damage or injury. 

Get Help with Your Move with Colonial Van Lines

Colonial Van Lines has years of experience moving customers across the country. Learn what moving offers we have by state, and contact us today to see how we can make your move easier, faster, and more efficient.


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