The Highway Rules for Rental Trucksby Pheori Wiley
For many people, driving a rental truck is something that isn't done every day or even every year. However, the rules of the road are always subject to change, especially those affected by Homeland Security laws. Safety consciousness and remembering the size and weight of your rental truck are a must.
Checking the Planned Route
Aside from the basics of driving a truck---such as obtaining the records of weight (some roads will allow only so much weight per axle) and planning for detours and road closures (construction or inclement weather can get in the way of plans) laws regarding the places in which to drive the vehicle are a chief concern. Be aware of restrictions that might be in effect when you seek to drive around large government offices or over dams and bridges. These rules can vary with location, and signs should be posted in affected areas; look for weight and height restrictions.
Loading Your Truck
There are no real rules of the highway to govern the way your truck is packed unless you will be undergoing a security inspection of cargo. A good rule of thumb is to load the heaviest items down low and toward the front of the truck, and to make sure the load stays firmly in place. If you plan to drive through a Homeland Security checkpoint, create a walkable aisle down the middle to allow for a complete inspection of your contents.
All states have specifically posted truck speeds, and most rental trucks will need to comply with these---from the maximum speed down a long grade to the posted standard highway speed. Such regulations aim to keep both you and other drivers safe. Laws governing slower vehicles, keeping to the right and maintaining a minimum speed must be followed as well. If your truck is too heavily loaded for you to drive at the minimum speed, you will have to find a different route.
Lanes to Use
In general, trucks must stay in the far right lane and may leave it only long enough to pass another vehicle safely. In large cities and on major highways, trucks typically must stay in the right two lanes. Carpool or HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lanes are generally unavailable for trucks no matter how many people are inside, though laws may vary from state to state. All trucks must yield to emergency vehicles and law-enforcement officers at all times, whether by changing lanes or simply stopping.
The General Laws
All laws governing the use of seat belts or other objects---such as cell phones---apply to rental trucks. The laws that apply to you on a regular drive in your car are the same if not stricter while you're driving a rental truck. Always watch for signs to indicate instructions specific to driving a truck. For example, if you see a sign for trucks concerning an upcoming change or inspection, it is generally best to comply. Most states don't require ordinary rental trucks to stop at a "semi truck" inspection point, however; but always check the states you will be driving through and verify the size and weight of your vehicle before concluding that you're exempt.
You must keep a valid driver's license on your person. All rental papers must be completed and remain in your truck. Mandatory paperwork also includes your insurance papers or the new insurance issued by the rental company, if applicable. Date stamps must apply to your usage and the entire duration of your journey.
- photo_camera truck image by max blain from Fotolia.com