Our perception to what is heavy and what is not can be very problematic to a driver if you don’t respect the equipment you are driving. Our minds tell us that something is heavy because we know we can’t lift the object as we know it. That is why when you see someone pull a truck with their body or lift a car off of someone saving their life we see it as superhuman. It’s because we see that vehicle as impossible to lift due to size and weight. If we were Superman we would see a car as an object that could be thrown around like a ball because of his superhuman strength.
This perception of the weight of the vehicle can fool many new drivers when they start their careers. Vehicles fool the drivers in a few ways. One way is when an incident occurs the truck usually does much more damage than the driver thought it would due to the weight of the vehicle. Even an incident with little speed involved can cause great damage when an incident occurs. What may have been a small fender bender with a car can turn very different when a truck is involved.
Another issue with perception is the size of the vehicle. Trucks are large vehicles and just walking around them can be intimidating. Without a load on however a truck is not that heavy. If I tell you an empty truck is 35,000 pounds you would say that’s heavy. The truth is we haven’t even put a load on it at that weight and if you are driving a truck that is empty you will see the difference between a loaded and empty truck. This causes big problems in heavy wind situations and many trucks have been blown over in the wind if the driver does not have the experience or follow the warnings on bridges and other passages. This also offers problems with soft shoulders on highways and other issues where our minds fool us with the weight of the vehicle.
The height of a vehicle can also be problematic for drivers not understanding how they can be a challenge in today’s environment. When we talk about height of vehicles often trailer height and low bridges are what comes to mind. That is one area that has always been a challenge with many low bridges dotted throughout the landscape of North America. But trailer height isn’t our only worry. The height of the vehicle from the ground can cause problems for many drivers especially this time of year with high water levels. How many times have you seen drivers driving through rivers, flooded streets and more on social media channels. Drivers see that and feel that they too can do the same thing, but vehicle dynamics, weight of the vehicle, and placement of components all play a part in the driver’s success. Of course we can also watch vehicles on social media that have floated down a river with the force of a river current out of control.
The best way to avoid many of these problems in a truck is to respect the vehicle and use it for what it was meant to be used for. Trucks were never meant to be used to drive through rivers or drive over bridges in windy conditions. If you are a new driver or even an experienced driver vehicle respect should be a primary concern. Know your vehicle and how it responds, respect your environment, and pay attention to seasonal and environmental changes on your route. Attention to these issues will make you a successful and safe driver.
About the Author
Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, consultant, podcast host, and speaker. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com