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Renting a moving truck? Use these safety tips

It doesn't seem like a deal to rent a U-Haul or some other moving truck -- until you get behind the wheel. Driving a large, heavy truck with all your belongings inside is a serious responsibility. It can also be emotionally and physically taxing -- especially if you've never been behind the wheel of a truck before.

Here are the top safety tips you need to remember before you get on the road:

1. Inspect the vehicle carefully.

Someone from the rental company will walk around the vehicle before you take the truck and note all the obvious dings and scratches for insurance purposes. However, you should also pay attention to a few other things.

Do the tires appear to be in good condition? Are they properly inflated? Bad tires can easily lead to a blow-out on the road, which is a major cause of accidents. Other things to check include your mirrors, lights and turn signals. Don't leave the lot until you're certain they're all in working order.

2. Pack your cargo with care.

Don't let your helpers load the truck haphazardly. Make sure that heavy items are evenly distributed and nothing is stacked where it can fall. An uneven load can shift very suddenly and cause your truck to topple over.

Make sure that you don't put any hazardous materials or flammables (like cleaning supplies) in the back of the truck. It's far safer to buy new ones when you get to your destination. In addition, never allow anyone to ride in the back. A passenger in the cargo area could easily get hurt by a shifting load.

3. Go slowly and pay attention to clearances.

Speed is one of the top contributors to accidents, so take it slowly. If you have a long trip, plan plenty of rest breaks to keep yourself from getting fatigued.

You also need to take care not to try to go under a bridge or any other structure (including the drive-through of a fast food restaurant) unless you're certain you have clearance. Pay attention to the height of your truck, and never tempt fate.

Truck accidents can be extremely serious and leave victims in need of medical care and rehabilitation for months or even years. If you're injured in a truck accident through no fault of your own, find out more about your legal options.

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