Yes. In the United States, you can drive a box truck with a regular license as long as the box truck has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,000 pounds or less. Ideally, a vehicle’s GVWR is the most amount it can weigh—including cargo—and still be operational.
Note that to drive a box truck or any vehicle that has a rating of 26,001 pounds and above, you will be expected to obtain at least a Class B CDL. However, there are some vehicles with a GVWR below 26,000 that may still require a commercial driver’s license.
A GVWR does not really mean how much the truck itself weighs, it entails the amount of weight the vehicle is rated to carry, and this is another way of saying how large the truck is. To find the GVWR of your box truck, you should check inside the door jam of the truck.
Most often, the inside sticker will contain the Gross Axle Weight Rating (GARW) for both the front and rear axles. Just combine those two numbers and that equals your GVWR. Unlike semi-trailers, box trucks are one strong piece of equipment. Semis are known to be quite larger with more wheels to ensure they can carry much bigger loads.
Also, note that these trucks have cabs that tend to be separate from the trailers that they carry so that new cargo loads can easily attach and detach at shipment points. Box trucks and semis usually serve entirely different purposes and have totally different licensing requirements.
Although box trucks are easily noted by a few general characteristics, do not think that they are all the same. Box trucks come in a wide range of shapes and sizes and the answer to who can drive them will more or less depend on their specific GVWR. Most box trucks are known to fall under the threshold of requiring just a regular license to drive them.
Basic Safety Precautions and Tips for Driving a Box Truck
Although you don’t really need a CDL to drive a box truck, have in mind that there are necessary precautions to follow to guarantee your safety. Always remember that these vehicles do not operate like a sedan or even a pickup truck and will have to be treated with a lot more caution. Nonetheless here are basic safety precautions and tips to consider;
Table of Content
- Familiarize Yourself With The Truck
- Be Aware Of The Size Of Your Box Truck
- Safe Driving Starts With A well-distributed Load
- Always Remember To Take Your Time
- Maintain Your Distance
- Pay Attention To Your Surroundings
- Know Your “No Zones”
- Keep Passing to a Minimum
- There Is No Need To Rush
- If Attainable, Don’t Go Alone
Familiarize Yourself With The Truck
It is important to first study the layout and functions of the controls on the dashboard. This will ensure that you drive the box truck without scrabbling for the button to turn on the headlights. Also, remember to make adjustments to the seat for maximum comfort and the mirrors for optimum visibility.
Be Aware Of The Size Of Your Box Truck
If you have not driven a box truck before, then you must check or ask to know the height and width of your box truck. You wouldn’t want to get stuck under the security gate of a warehouse parking lot or even damage the truck. Consider making the trip on the internet first as it can help you visualize the streets you intend to take. Aside from reassuring you, this will allow you to anticipate disappointments and choose another route.
Safe Driving Starts With A well-distributed Load
When using a box truck, it is recommended you first load the heaviest and most durable items. Always remember to distribute the weight throughout the base of the truck, keeping the heaviest ones in the middle for a well-distributed load.
Always remember that furniture like bookcases and other tall items can easily tip over, therefore legalize them before you leave. Once you have arranged the heavier things, you can then load the more fragile and less bulky objects on them.
Always Remember To Take Your Time
If you are driving a box truck for the first time, then you should take the time to adjust to your new ride. Consider doing a few lengths and maneuvers in the parking lot before entering streets or a roundabout for instance.
You shouldn’t also let other motorists bother you by honking especially if you are a bit slow to turn on a narrow street, just leave them and take your time to do it right. Remember to find out where the main controls are: turn signals, horn, gas flap, wiper, and washer, to name a few.
Maintain Your Distance
You should pay close attention to traffic flow and maintain an adequate stopping distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Note that the larger the truck, the more distance you have to leave to allow enough braking distance, and 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. Have it in mind that a small pickup van traveling at 65 mph, following a 1.5-second reaction time will need around 316 feet to come to a complete stop, while a box will require about 525 feet. A good rule of thumb is to leave one vehicle length per 10 mph of speed.
Pay Attention To Your Surroundings
Just as it is with driving other vehicles, it is important to stay vigilant and very careful of your surroundings. Truth be told, you will have a wider blind spot, and owing to that, you will have to be excessively vigilant so as not to hit a cyclist, a pedestrian, or another vehicle.
In the same vein, if you decide to enter a roundabout, always make sure your entire truck pass and that you do not cut the road to another motorist. Aside from creating stress for you and the other driver, it can be quite deadly. Always try to be on the lookout and anticipate the reactions of other drivers.
Know Your “No Zones”
Have it in mind that drivers of small vehicles or even motorcyclists do not know about a box truck blind spots or “no-zones,” where crashes are most likely to occur and may drive dangerously close.
These include the area behind your side mirrors and directly behind the vehicle. In conventional box truck models, there is an additional blind spot to the side, just in front of the cab. It is always advisable you keep a watchful eye on these areas, especially when making turns or switching lanes.
Keep Passing to a Minimum
You need to have it in the back of your mind that trucks are heavy and big. If you’ve never handled a box truck before, you will need to get used to the feel. If you are going on a highway, you must stay in the left lane and let others pass you.
Passing will more or less require speeding up, and this can cause you to lose control if you aren’t careful and that experienced with box trucks. This is particularly true especially when you are driving on any narrow, winding, or uphill roads. Always remember to play it safe and stay in the slower lane for the better portion of your trip.
There Is No Need To Rush
If it is your first time driving a box truck, then the last thing you want is additional stress and a rush to drive. Owing to that, if you can, try to plan each trip in advance. Make sure to avoid busy areas and postpone them in case of bad weather. Try not to make a tight schedule and ensure you give yourself more time than you think it will take.
If Attainable, Don’t Go Alone
Regardless of how long you practice, you are still not entirely immune to having to niche or reverse a little peril when you are not driving a box truck every day. Note that a good number of rental trucks come with rearview cameras, but nothing beats a friend or family member outside the car to help direct you.
Have in mind that this person can also help you find your way to your new location. Having a co-driver by your side is always nice and can also help to avoid careless mistakes.
Just as was noted above, you don’t necessarily need a CDL to operate a box truck, but it is imperative to use your best judgment before you hit the road. Have it in mind that safe driving has more to do with you than your truck.
Therefore, always remember to eat right, exercise, and also get enough rest, so that when you operate your box truck you are fresh, focused, alert and conscious. Keep yourself and fellow roadway drivers safe with some of these simple box truck-safe driving tips mentioned above.