The Challenges of Driving a Penske Truck Highlight the Dangers to Other Drivers

I rented a 16‑foot Penske truck to lug my twin daughters' dorm room supplies to their first year of college at two Virginia schools.  The first leg was up to Blacksburg through the Shenandoah Valley and the mountainous western part of Virginia just beyond Roanoke.

Interstate 81 is notorious for being flooded with trucks, mainly big transportation company 18‑wheeler vehicles.  The hard part of driving this 12,000-pound rental truck which is really just a box on a van frame, is the lack of a rearview mirror.  Of course there's no mirror as there would be in a passenger vehicle because all you can see is the yellow Penske colors on the back of the box embedded into the van body so you're forced to use the side mirrors which are large and have two different facets on each side to be able to see what's around you.  It takes some getting used to.

Rules of the road require a driver to keep a proper lookout.  I had to be very careful before making change lanes.  The requirement isn't only to try to look but to actually see what there is to see.  If you can't see what there is next to you or behind you then you really cannot safely change lanes.  In the case of our college trip, I had my wife and one of my daughters following behind in our jeep.  They ended up as an escort vehicle allowing me to be sure that things were clear and blocking anybody from racing up behind me.  However, when they were following behind with the lack of a rear view mirror I couldn't really see that they were even there.

The whole experience including moving the vehicle on to Charlottesville to drop off the other kid at the University of Virginia was a driving challenge.  I have a newfound respect for folks who have to drive commercial vehicles because of the challenges they face.  One of the problems for commercial drivers is that passenger vehicle operators don't really understand the different dynamics and issues facing a commercial driver in anything from a small truck like this up through a bigger tractor trailer.  The braking's different, the acceleration's different, and the ability to see is very different.  If you are an inexperienced driver as far as small trucks you need to be especially vigilant when you're operating one for the first time or on that rare occasion when you're doing something like moving the kids to their first year at university

The braking's different, the acceleration's different, and the ability to see is very different.  If you are an inexperienced driver as far as small trucks you need to be especially vigilant when you're operating one for the first time or on that rare occasion when you're doing something like moving the kids to their first year at university.

It is alarming to me that anyone can hire a large Penske van or a U-Haul with little experience of driving a box truck. You should be very careful when you are driving near these vehicles. Also, see five reasons why box trucks are dangerous. If you are injured, you may have grounds to file a personal injury claim against the driver. If you have been injured, call us today at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at (757) 455-0077.

John Cooper

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