So you’re preparing for a big move that involves renting a U-Haul truck. And because you’ve got a lot of stuff to move, you’ve rented one of the heavy ones. On the day of departure, a question you probably should have seen coming materializes: Am I allowed to drive this truck anywhere I want?
The United States allows U-Haul trucks to travel on its highways, parkways, and any other roads that can accommodate them. Exceptions are posted from state to state, the two most popular being New York and New Jersey.
Now, let’s talk about why highways, parkways, and expressways matter to U-Haul drivers and answer a few more questions about where you’re allowed to drive thes trucks.
The Difference Between Highways, Parkways, and Expressways
As you wonder where it’s legal to take your U-Haul rental and where it’s not, it will help to know the basic definitions of highways, parkways, and expressways.
A highway is a wide, major route consisting of several lanes. Highways are often defined as state routes and stretch from city to city. A highway’s primary purpose lies with commuters.
Expressways are similar to highways, except they bypass cities, enabling traffic to move from destination to destination at constant high speeds. When traveling long distances—such as from state to state—try to hop on an expressway.
Parkways have elements of both highways and expressways, but with a scenic accent. A parkway might roll through a hilly landscape or across fancy bay bridges. The lanes are wider, the air cleaner, and everything feels more relaxed.
Ready to find out whether or not these kinds of roads are friendly to U-Haul drivers? Let’s take the plunge.
Can U-Haul Go on a Highway?
If your move keeps you in the same state, chances are you’ll want to use one of the highways. On the heels of this wisdom comes the question: Can I drive a U-Haul on the highway? Here’s the answer:
U-Haul trucks are allowed on highways. Having said as much, I do not recommend pushing the larger rentals to over 60 miles (96.56 km) per hour. Stay in the far right lane and pass only when necessary.
No U.S. states forbid the use of U-Haul trucks or trailers on their highways, but this doesn’t mean the cop who pulls you over will be in a good mood if you break some other law.
Can U-Haul Go on an Expressway?
If you’re planning to move to another state or across the country, your route will likely involve an expressway. It’s only logical, since these kinds of roads tend to avoid towns and cities.
Your U-Haul truck is free to roam on any expressway in the United States. Indeed, other motorists prefer using an expressway, as it means less slow-moving traffic for them to battle. Moreover, on an expressway, you’ll wait at fewer stoplights.
My main advice for expressway travel is the same as for highways: Go easy on the gas pedal. U-Haul trucks are not race cars, and your move certainly has nothing to do with Le Mans (except for the time it takes).
So highways and expressways are good. When do the restrictions show up? Funny you should ask…
Can U-Haul Go on a Parkway?
At last, we delve into a bit of a gray area when driving a U-Haul truck. As I mentioned earlier, New York and New Jersey are not keen on letting commercial vehicles use their parkways; in fact, it’s flat-out illegal.
When defining a commercial vehicle, New York and New Jersey differ slightly from the rest of the country. New York classifies a commercial vehicle as “a vehicle designed, maintained, or used primarily for the transportation of property or for the provision of commercial services…”
The New Jersey definition is similar, and because U-Haul trucks transport property all the time, they are considered commercial vehicles. Neither state allows commercial vehicles on its parkways (although New Jersey is fine with U-Haul’s cargo vans and 10-foot (3-meter) box trucks).
So long as you’re not in New York or New Jersey, you can drive a U-Haul truck on a parkway. New Jersey does allow cargo vans and 10’ box trucks to use their parkways, but nothing larger.
U-Haul vehicles are not considered commercial in most other states, so you’re good to go. But here’s another caveat about parkways: Many of them have low-clearance bridges that can shave the roof off your truck. This is every bit as ugly as it sounds, so do pay attention to those diamond-shaped signs that declare a bridge’s height. Remember how tall your rental is and do the math.
If you mistakenly drive under a bridge that’s too low, here is a video showing the consequences:
With a bit of extra care on your part, driving a U-Haul on the parkway is no sweat. If anything, you’ll be more relaxed, as the lanes are wider and the scenery quite beautiful.
Can U-Haul Go on a Parkway in New York City?
I won’t beat about the bush here: If you’re driving a U-Haul in New York City, stay off the parkways. The metropolis’ reputation for cranky motorists is already well-established. How much more cranky do you think a cop will be when he pulls you over for breaking the law?
It is against the law for commercial vehicles to use parkways in The Big Apple. The state of New York considers U-Haul trucks to be commercial, even though you don’t need a commercial license to operate these trucks.
Do not drive your U-Haul rental on New York City parkways. In New Jersey, this law also applies to U-Haul’s fifteen to twenty-six-foot trucks.
Quickie Questions–and Answers–About U-Hauls on Parkways
Because things can get a bit iffy for U-Haul trucks on parkways, I feel compelled to tick off a couple more boxes. Let’s begin.
Can a U-Haul trailer go on a parkway? Yes…so long as you’re not in the state of New York. In New York, trailers are considered commercial not only because they haul merchandise but also because of the branding painted on the side.
Can a U-Haul van go on the Belt Parkway? No. The Belt Parkway wraps around NYC’s Brooklyn and Queens boroughs. As with all other parkways in the state, commercial vehicles are prohibited from using them. This includes U-Haul cargo vans.
Can U-Haul go on the Taconic State Parkway? Since this is a parkway maintained by the New York State Department Of Transportation, I must insist that the answer be no. The state carries strict laws about trucks, buses, trailers, and campers on its parkways.
One more reason things get so sticky for trucks on parkways is that these roads are not designed to support heavy vehicles. And again, many of them have low-clearance bridges, such as railroad trestles, which will not accommodate moving trucks.
U-Haul trucks are permitted on highways and expressways all over the United States. This same goes for parkways, unless you’re in New York or New Jersey. For any road you drive on, remember your truck’s height clearance, drive carefully, and make turns extra slowly. Respect for the vehicle you’ve rented will assure a safe, incident-free move.