Make no mistake about it; being behind the wheel of a lorry for the first time is hugely intimidating. No matter how many years you have been driving a car for, nothing can prepare you for the sheer number of controls, the view and the responsibility you need to get a handle on when you first climb into your haulage vehicle’s cab. There’s a reason the licensing process is tougher than getting a licence to drive a car – it’s very hard. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you first make the jump from car to your first haulage job…
Break Early and Break Often
You’re now driving a far heavier vehicle, and your stopping distances are longer than you’d expect if you’re used to driving a car. Remember your stopping distance will be longer when carrying loads too, so be sure to adjust.
You Need to Make Wider Turns
Because you are now carrying a trailer behind you, you need to adjust your turning times to compensate and avoid clipping the curb.
Your Acceleration is Far Worse, so Join Lanes with Caution
With a car, you can be comparatively daring at joining a lane of fast moving traffic, because the acceleration is good. Lorry drivers have to be extra careful, as it will take them a good while to gain enough speed to pull away from the traffic immediately behind.
Indicate Early to Warn off Cars and Bikes
Many other motorists don’t realise exactly how slowly lorry drivers have to do things, and are notoriously impatient. You should be signalling turns in a lorry long before you would in a car to prevent the smaller vehicles – especially motorbikes – pulling up on your inside and forcing you to practice your emergency stops!
Know the Height and Weight of Your Lorry
The reason for knowing the height and weight of your lorry should be obvious: there are certain bridges and tunnels that will only allow vehicles below a certain height and weight to use them. If you don’t know, you could risk an accident – and if you’re aware of height restricted bridges in advance, you can plan your route to avoid them.
Be Aware of Your Lorry’s Dimensions and What it Means to You
Most lorries have a trailer that’s wider than the cab. This means that you should aim to drive more towards the centre of the lane than you would in a car, to make sure your trailer is in a good position.
Make Sure Your Load is Always Properly Placed and Secured
The reason for ensuring your load is secure is obvious – the last thing you want is for the load you’ve been carrying to fall into the road and cause an accident. Make sure it’s secure and check every time you stop for a break.
And finally a quick word of warning for when you return to a normal sized car after a long haulage job: it will feel terrifyingly small and fast! Don’t worry though – once you’ve made the switch a few times it becomes second nature!