If you are considering learning how to drive a truck, truck driving is a lot easier than you think. Generally speaking, just like driving a car, the more you practice the easier truck driving will become. Start by taking things slowly and try not to put too much pressure on yourself, the less pressure you feel, the easier it will be to get the hang of things. As with anything in life, some people will take to truck driving easier than others, so don’t get annoyed if you find it more difficult than your friends who may be driving one already.
How to qualify to drive a truck?
To start with you have to be over the age of 18 in order to be able to drive a truck. You are also required to have a full driving license which requires certain checks to be carried out such as your eyesight and a reasonable English and math level. In simple, the following steps have to be carried out to qualify to be a truck driver:
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Obtain A Heavy Vehicle License
- Pass the medical test
- Take a drivers training course
- Pass the written and practical assessment
- Get your heavy vehicle license
- Start applying for jobs
Make sure you do your research on each step as you can go into a lot more detail for each step that is required. Our advice would be to start the process as soon as you can as it isn’t a quick one and requires a certain amount of time to pass each step – just like learning to drive a car can take months depending on how many lessons you are going to have a week.
What to do when driving a truck
Just like driving a car – sorry to keep comparing it – there are a variety of steps that you should follow when driving a truck. These include
Being aware of blind spots
As you can imagine, trucks are rather large and therefore have more blind spots than you may be used to. When on the road, make sure you are paying attention to these to avoid the possibility of an accident.
Remove any distractions
Being on the road for long hours can cause your mind to wander. When you feel yourself getting tired, make sure you take a break. Remove any distractions within your driving area as you want to be as alert as possible when on the road – this includes putting your mobile phone away as they can be extremely dangerous.
Carry out your truck checks
You are responsible for your truck when behind the wheel of it. Before starting it up and beginning your journey, make sure you do your check to ensure it’s safe and that you can’t see any visible damage on it.
Plan your route
The more familiar with the drive you are going to take, the easier it will be when you are driving it. When you get your journey planner, spend some time planning the route. Browse Google maps for any difficult junctions that you may come across and check the traffic conditions before leaving. Driving in places you do not know can be stressful, so this will help make the journey that little bit more comfortable.
How do you shift gears in a truck?
When you are driving a truck you are going to have to shift gears on a regular occurrence depending on the speeds you are driving at. You will learn this in great depth when learning to drive a truck, however to summarize it simply, it’s done the following way:
- Start your truck
- Push down the accelerator and slowly release the clutch
- Double-clutch to shift into first gear, low setting
- Continue this pattern through the first half of the gears
- Switch over to fifth gear when you’re ready.
- Continue shifting through the higher gears
In order to shift gears you should know when to shift them. There are a number of indicators that are put in place to help you.
- Use the colors on your tachometer as an indication
- Read up on the general rules of shifting gears
- Ensure you are downshifting whenever your are slowing down your truck
How do you drive a refrigerated truck?
When you are driving a refrigerated truck, you are responsible for making sure the goods are not spoilt when arriving at the destination. You want to drive safely, slowly and within the allocated delivery slot.
Check the Thermostat Constantly
You are responsible for the goods you are transporting, meaning you want to make sure the thermostat of your truck is correct. If the thermostat is changing whilst driving, it could mean the goods are spoilt and not acceptable on delivery. On your journey, make regular checks, ensuring the thermostat is correct.
Be aware of braking distances
You will be driving refrigerated goods through all sorts of weather – hot summer days, rainy winter days or snow. Depending on the weather will mean different braking distances, due to the conditions of the road. Be aware of these conditions as you want to ensure your refrigerated goods arrive in one piece. Snowy days require longer stopping distances compared to summer days for example.
Loading and unloading cargo
A responsibility of a refrigerated truck driver isn’t just transporting the cargo from a to b. You will also be required to load and unload the cargo, ensuring it’s done safely. When doing this, you want to take into account any additional drops that you have to do on that day. Being a truck driver can be a stressful job which is why planning your routes is very important.
Follow loading guidelines for proper airflow
Airflow is important especially for refrigerated trucks. You want to ensure your goods are packed correctly to make sure the airflow is correct. Make sure you do not overpack and ensure you leave plenty of space between your freight to allow it to flow through. If you do not follow loading guidelines for proper airflow, you can find the temperature getting too hot.