Is it hard driving a box truck? (9 tips)

In today’s blog post, we will answer the following question: Is it hard driving a box truck? We will discuss safety concerns and give you valuable tips to be able to drive your box truck like a pro. 

Is it hard driving a box truck?

Driving a box truck can be hard, as it is not something you do every day. Even though the principle is similar to that of driving a standard vehicle, there are a few points that you must pay attention to. Do not be stressed, below you will find tips to be able to drive your truck like a pro!

  1. Take your time: If you trust yourself, everything will be fine! The important thing is that you take the time to tame your new steed. Start by doing a few lengths and manoeuvres in a parking lot before entering a congested lane or a roundabout for example. This will give you confidence and you will see that driving a truck is not rocket science. 

If you are hesitant before hitting the road then don’t let other motorists stress you out who might honk at you if you are a bit slow to turn on a narrow street, just leave them and don’t take it to heart. they tell you. Find out where the main controls are: turn signals, horn, gas flap, wiper and washer to name a few.

  1. Pay attention to your surroundings:  You have to keep your eyes open and be very careful of your surroundings in the box truck. You will have a wider blind spot and therefore you will have to be doubly vigilant not to hit a cyclist, a pedestrian or another vehicle. Likewise, if you decide to enter a roundabout, do your best so that ALL your truck can pass and that you do not cut the road to another motorist. 

Besides creating stress for you and the other driver, it can be dangerous. Also, watch out for motorcycles or scooters which can sometimes seem like “come out of nowhere” and which often go quickly. In short, you need to be on the lookout to be able to anticipate the reactions of other drivers.

  1. If possible, don’t go alone:  Even if you practice before you jump in the deep end, you are not immune to having to niche or reverse a little peril when you are not driving a box truck every day. Most rental trucks come with rearview cameras, but nothing beats a friend or family member outside the car to guide you. 

This person can also help you find your way to your new home. Having a co-driver by your side is always practical and often avoids careless mistakes behind the wheel.

  1. Be aware of the size of your box truck: If you are not used to driving a truck, be careful or ask the rental company if they can tell you the height of your vehicle. It would be a shame if you got stuck under the security gate of a shopping mall parking lot, for example. Too bad both for your morale but also for your wallet, farewell to the new sofa or the new kitchen. 

If you can make the trip on the internet and visualize the streets you will have to take. In addition to reassuring you, this will allow you to anticipate disappointments once again and to choose another route.

  1. Keep your distance:  Higher than in your usual car, you will have a more distant vision of the road, you will feel stability in the steering wheel but do not be fooled by this apparent safety. Thus, the safety distances are strictly observed, with the weight of the truck and its load, the vehicle will take longer to stop. Feeling secure doesn’t make you invincible so be careful. 

Likewise, don’t go too fast on bends, a loaded truck may overturn and you will end up in a ditch.

  1. There is no need to rush: If you are behind the wheel of a box truck for the first time, the last thing you need is extra stress and rush to drive. So, if you can, plan each trip in advance, avoid busy areas and postpone it in case of bad weather. Don’t make a tight schedule, give yourself more time than you think it will take.
  1. Familiarize yourself with the truck: Take some time to study the layout and functions of the controls on the dashboard. This way you can drive without groping for the button to turn on the headlights. Finally, adjust the seat for maximum comfort and the mirrors for optimum visibility. By the way: given the limited visibility, remembering to check your mirrors is more important than ever.
  1. Safe driving begins with a well-distributed load: Load the heaviest and most durable items first. Distribute the weight well throughout the base of the van, placing the heaviest items in the centre for a balanced load. Furniture such as bookcases and other tall items are known to tip over, so legalize them before you leave. 

Once you have arranged the heavier things, you can place the more fragile and less bulky objects on them.

  1. Drive slowly and at a constant speed: This is not a tip addressed only to beginners: a snappy ride full of sudden acceleration and braking always leads to damage to the load.

For this reason, it is good to keep well below the speed limit (often lower for vehicles such as vans, so inform yourself in advance). Driving slowly is especially important when parking and reversing. Whenever possible, bring someone who can disembark to help you with the manoeuvres. Take curves and bumps at slow speeds and try to brake well in advance to avoid sudden stops.

Basic rules when driving a box truck

Rules for passing:

1. Never try to pass a vehicle moving faster than 40 mph.

2. Never try to pass a vehicle on hills or curves.

3. Never change lanes on the highway.

Rules for parking:

1. Remember that heavy-duty trucks require more time and space to stop.

2. Use the parking brake every time you park.

3. Turn the wheels away from the sidewalks.

4. Lock all doors and attach the safety chain to the towing device.

5. At bus stops or restaurants, park the truck where you can see it.

Tips for better fuel economy:

1. Drive carefully and respect the speed limits.

2. Get to the desired speed gradually.

3. Release the accelerator little by little when you are about to stop.

4. Avoid driving at the maximum speed that the truck allows.

5. Park in safe places to avoid thieves.

​​Do box trucks need authority?

Yes, box trucks need operating authority from the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) in order to be able to cross boundaries or to carry goods for delivery purposes. 

Operating authority is a mandatory requirement for any transportation in excess of 10,000 GVW that will be or expecting to cross state lines. To do this, you will need to obtain official clearance from the USDOT. 

The 5 types of trucking authority are:

  1. Motor Carrier Authority: Businesses that transport passengers and goods for a fee require a motor carrier authority. It takes 5-7 weeks to complete a Motor Carrier (MC) authorization.
  1. Private Transportation Authority: A private transportation company gets a private transportation authority that transports its own goods, especially if the company produces or uses the goods or cargo that it transports.
  1. Rental carrier: This authority is obtained by a company that provides transportation for the goods of other companies. That is, the cargo of the ship of the company that belongs to another company or individual and they are paid to do so. 
  1. Freight forwarder: A trucking company that is responsible for transporting goods from the point of receipt to the point of delivery by rail, motor, or water.
  1. Broker Authority: A broker is an entity that handles the transportation of goods for compensation. A broker does not transport goods but organizes a rental service to transport goods on behalf of its clients.

Applying for a box truck authority involves a mountain of paperwork, and you have to pay attention to the smallest detail because any lost or misplaced paperwork can delay your deadline. Likewise, you should keep track of the dates of all your appointments to meet all of them. It is advisable to have all the dates marked on a calendar that is in view so that you do not forget.

Final thoughts

If your experience behind the wheel is limited to using full-sized cars, perhaps the idea of driving a box truck makes you uncomfortable. You don’t have to worry about it. Once you get the hang of it it will be like driving a car. Just make sure you follow our tips!

If you have any questions about this article, please feel free to get in contact. 

FAQ on Is it hard driving a box truck?

What is good mileage for a used box truck?

Good mileage for a used box truck would be under 100,000 miles for gas engines, and under 200,000 miles for diesel engines. There is no need to retire the box truck after you hit this mark, but you will, however, need to pay more attention to its maintenance and you’ll definitely take it to service more often.

​​Do box trucks need authority?

Yes, box trucks need operating authority from the Federal Motor Car Safety Administration (FMCSA) in order to be able to cross boundaries or to carry goods for delivery purposes. 

What is the most reliable box truck?

The following are the most reliable box trucks:

  • Scania
  • DAF 
  • MAN
  • Mercedes Benz
  • Iveco
  • Volvo
  • Renault.

How to choose a box truck?

To choose a box truck make sure you respect the following criteria:

  • Fast delivery. 
  • Reasonable costs.
  • Efficiency.
  • Security. 
  • Precision. 

References