Things to know about driving a Handy Truck

13 October 2021

If you have never driven a truck it can sometimes be intimidating or scary. We are here to tell you it’s not as hard as you might think. Like everything when it comes to moving you will be just fine if you plan ahead and do plenty of research. Here are a few pointers to get started operating a Handy Truck.

Booking a Vehicle

Deciding on what vehicle you need is a whole another blog which you can read here, but once you have decided what vehicle is right for you, book it online or call one of our experts on 0800 47 48 49. We recommend you book your vehicle with at least 2 weeks notice if at all possible.

Before Setting off

Before setting off make sure you do these following things to ensure your safety and the safety of others around you. 

  • Make sure you have your mirrors set properly
  • Ensure your load is safely secured
  • Ensure heavy items are loaded into the truck closest to the cab.
  • Check that all tyres have pressure
  • Familiarize yourself with where the controls are before you get on the road

Our trucks wipers, lights etc may be in slightly different places to your car, our experienced staff members will guide you through the controls of your specific vehicle when you collect it.

On The Road:

When driving on the road especially in New Zealand its important to make sure that you follow these general guidelines of driving a truck, a  lot of it is very intuitive but here is what we recommend: 

Slowdown: These trucks can weigh up to 6 tonnes when fully loaded, this means that it will take you longer to speed up, slow down or emergency stop, we recommend allowing a 5 second gap between you and the vehicle in front and allow 6 seconds when driving in adverse weather such as rain, snow or fog. We recommend referring to the NZTA guide on following distance and adding 2 seconds to their recommendation in regards to following distance.

Pass with Caution (and pull over to let cars pass):  Being a truck, the vehicle can be considerably larger than your own vehicle or any you may have driven before. We recommend avoiding over taking if at all possible, however in the rare occasion that you need to overtake, give yourself more room than you normally would, make sure you only pass on long straight bits of road. If cars are building up behind you it is the law in New Zealand for you to pull over and let them pass, only pull over when it is safe to do so.

Handling Terrain

It is wise to be cautious when driving a truck, certain terrain can be particularly hazardous such as steep hills, sharp corners or unpaved roads. Here is some advice for taking on different types of terrain.

Hills: When driving uphill make sure you engage the throttle a bit more to force the automatic gearbox to shift down and help you power up the hill, if you are driving a manual it is a good idea to shift down. When descending a hill, turn on the engine braking (please ask your expert team member about our engine braking) and let the vehicle slow itself down. You can use the brakes to slow down but its a good idea not to ride them to prevent brake fade.

Road Hard Shoulders: If your vehicle begins to vier off the paved road into the hard shoulder, don’t panic, don’t turn the wheel or slam on the brakes. Instead take your foot off the accelerator and hold steady and let the vehicle slow down to below 50kph then slowly make your way back onto the road. Watch the traffic and allow yourself time to move back over.

Sharp Corners:It is a good idea to avoid turning sharp corners, however sometimes this is inevitable. It is particularly important to pay attention in car parkes and tight roads, the rear of the truck will swing around further than your initial turn so be aware of sideswiping vehicles with the rear of the truck. The best way to avoid this is to drive slightly further past the corner than you would in a car before you turn, to give you the widest possible angle.

Steep Driveways: When driving on steep driveways or steep roads (Like the ones found in Wellington), the rear of the truck may hit the ground or get stuck, especially if you have a full load. When the truck is empty reversing up steep driveways may become difficult, due to the wheels not having enough weight above them. If the truck is fully loaded the handbrake MAY not hold the truck on very steep inclines, it is a good idea to park the vehicle elsewhere in this situation.

Emergencies and In-correct operation of the Truck

There are a few reasons that a truck will be pushed off course from where you are steering it, this could be caused by things such as: (High winds, improper loading, driving too fast, poor road sealing, tyre blow outs etc..).

In the even of an emergency do not:

  • Steer or brake too aggressively – Let off the gas pedal to slow down.
  • Speed up 
  • Panic

We recommend:

  • Stay calm
  • Hold the wheel straight
  • Pull of the road slowly
  • Bring the vehicle to a complete stop
  • Once stopped and safe, check the truck’s tyres are all in good shape and lug nuts tightened.
  • Call the roadside assistance if needed.

Driving Check List

We understand that moving day can be hectic, so here is a quick checklist to follow before driving a Handy Truck and ensure safe travel:

Backing and Loading

  • Check behind the truck for people, objects, furniture and vehicles.
  • Ensure load is secure in rear of the truck
  • Close doors and make sure the tail lifter and steps are put away correctly.

When Parking/Stopped

  • Firmly engage the handbrake
  • Put the vehicle into park and switch off the engine
  • Check condition of vehicle, including tyres and lugnuts
  • Lock up the truck

So long as you are careful when driving a Handy Truck you will have a fantastic experience and enjoy being the king of the road!

Call us on 0800 47 48 49 or click here to book online!