When you're planning to move, you can't always account for bad weather. A winter storm can postpone your move or, worse, catch you in the middle of your drive. Whether you're a pro at driving in the snow or never hit the road when it isn't sunny and 65, here is some important advice everyone should review before driving a rental truck in snowfall.
Rental trucks are bigger and heavier than what most people are used to driving. Additionally, a different weight distribution and center of gravity make driving a truck all the more difficult. Add in bad weather, and you have the right ingredients for an accident. If you end up driving in the snow, the first thing you should do is slow down. Getting to your destination is not as important as your safety, and going slow will put you in better control of the vehicle. As you change speeds, you should also slow down the rate at which you accelerate and decelerate.
Turn off cruise control
Adverse weather conditions require your extra attention. Don't set your car or yourself on auto-pilot.
Give some distance
In addition to driving slower, you'll also want to put more space between the cars around you than you normally would. As the roads get wet or icy, it will take longer for your brakes to slow your vehicle down. You will also need to add more braking distance given the weight of the truck, which makes it even harder to brake quickly.
Be sparing with your brakes
Just because you need to drive slower doesn't mean you should slam on the brakes. This is one of the easiest ways to spin out, and could even cause the truck to tip. If you feel the car spinning out, apply the brakes lightly and don't jerk the steering wheel.
Use your low beams
When visibility is poor due to rain or snow, use your low beams. High beams will not only blind other cars, they will also reflect back and make your own visibility worse.
These stretches of road are often the first to freeze, hence the signs that warn drivers. However, drivers should also be careful of wind. The absence of trees means that wind can whip across the water and jerk your truck, which is especially susceptible due to the increased surface area of the side of the truck.
Learn how to put on chains
If you're driving on particularly icy or snowy streets, you may need chains on your tires. Some states will even require that you have them on depending on the road. Learn how to put on chains with this video from the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Practice is important when it comes to chains, according to the department. Travelers should practice putting them on at home if they expect bad weather on the roads. Once chains are on, it's also important to re-tighten them frequently as you drive. While moving, you will also need to reduce your speed under 30 mph.
Make yourself visible
You may end up having to change a tire, put on chains or dig out your truck. Whenever you find yourself having to pull over on an active road, be cautious when stepping out of the car. Turn on your hazard lights so that oncoming cars can see you. Wear reflective, bright clothing so that you are visible, as well. You may also want to place flares or hazard signs at least 20 feet behind your car, if not more depending on visibility. Before moving, make sure these items are readily available.
When visibility is low and the roads slippery, your best option is to pull over, no matter the inconvenience it might cause in your moving plans.