Before you can get behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle and begin your career as a truck driver, you will need to demonstrate some basic truck driving skills. After all, your employer must trust that you can safely and efficiently transport cargo from one location to another. To get a head start before you take your first class, learn about the truck driving skills you will need to succeed. Gaining a basic understanding of these tasks will make the learning process that much easier.
Important Truck Driving Skills
Basic Driving Skills
It all starts with the basics. Although these truck driving skills may seem simple, remember that driving an 18-wheeler is a lot different from driving a car. For example, you will need to remember to brake sooner for stops, carefully maneuver wide turns, and use your mirrors properly when merging. You must also learn the following basic skills:
- How to perform a vehicle inspection
- How to control the vehicle within a defined area
- How to use and adjust your mirrors properly
- How to drive your vehicle in various situations (intersections, railroad crossings, curves, turns, up and down grades, single- and multi-lane roads, etc.)
- How to control your speed
- The meanings of all street signs
- Where critical controls are located (signals, lights, etc.)
- How to use all controls
- How to manage the space around your vehicle
- How to react to hazards on the road
- Basic rules of the road
- How to react to a driving emergency
Safely Transporting Cargo
As a truck driver, your job revolves around the safe transport of cargo. To this end, you will need to learn how to inspect cargo before driving to ensure that it is secure. You must learn about weight and balance to prevent overloading, remain within the legal weight limits, and balance your vehicle’s weight properly.
For many new truck drivers, learning how to back up is one of the most difficult and important lessons. Since you cannot see everything behind your vehicle when driving a long truck, backing up will always be dangerous and should be avoided when possible. During school, you will learn backing maneuvers as well as some simple safety rules. For example, you must start in the proper position and look at your path (by walking outside your vehicle) before attempting to back up. Check all of your mirrors frequently, back up very slowly, and turn toward the driver’s side so that you can see better. Never back up in a rush.
Driving Longer Combination Vehicles
Due to their extra weight and length, longer combination vehicles (LCV) require more driving skills than single commercial vehicles. They typically have two or three additional trailers attached to the truck, which make it harder to control the vehicle. You will need to learn about rollover risks (caused by improperly loaded cargo, quick turns, and quick lane changes) as well as the importance of steering gently and braking early. You must learn how to recognize and prevent trailer skids, how to turn widely, and how to back up with a trailer.
Driving in Various Environments
To deliver cargo, truck drivers often must travel through multiple states and environments. You must learn how to drive in a variety of locations and traffic conditions. For example, you should learn how to drive in large cities with busy streets, mountainous regions with steep inclines, rural highways with lots of space, and more. Your versatility will make you a valuable asset to your future employer.
Although driving during the steamy summertime can also be dangerous, winter presents the most hazards to truck drivers. When snow is on the road, the surface becomes slick, and an accident is only one wrong move away. Plus, as the snow falls from the sky, your visibility can be significantly reduced. To decrease the odds of finding yourself in a ditch, always drive slower than normal and stay vigilant. If you see more snow on the road than you are comfortable with, find a safe spot to pull over. In addition, remember to conduct vehicle checks to ensure that your truck is ready for the cold.
Have you learned all of these basic truck driving skills? Are you ready to move on to advanced techniques? You can learn everything you need to know at the Truck Dynasty Driving Academy, a professional truck driver training program that involves 120 clock hours and 3 weeks of professional driver training. In addition, current drivers can use the refresher course to sharpen and develop their skills. To get started, please give us a call at 417-831-8188, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us online. We look forward to hearing from you!