A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in a coffee shop waiting to attend an event writing one of the many articles that I do. Since I was facing the drive-thru every so often I would look up from my computer to think about a concept. At one moment I looked up to see this giant pick up truck turning through the drive-thru trying to position to pick up his order. Nothing alarming about that except the fact that he must have hit every curb and went up on the curb side in at least two occasions. At one point I actually thought to myself is this truck going to come through the window? Obviously this person was mis-judging the size of their vehicle with the coffee shop drive-thru.
One of the first steps of safe driving is knowing the size of your vehicle. Every vehicle has different characteristics and once training on equipment you will find that tractors and trailers of various heights and width can change how a person drives at any given time. Add a load that moves such as liquids or a load of heavy yet slippery product can change the dynamics again.
Often in my classes I will show students a picture of two trucks as a test to see if they can identify the difference in turning radius. One truck is an old cabover and the other an old model conventional. I ask the class which ones turns sharper and in most cases students choose the cabover due to the flat nose. The truth is that both may turn the same because the determining factor is the wheelbase of the vehicle and not the cab style. This exercise will work for a trailer as well. Two van trailers, one empty and one loaded would also operate totally different even though they look identical.
As a professional driver it is your job to know your vehicle and the safe operation before entering on the roadways. That is why it is important to enrol in a certified school so that you get training and experience on a variety of equipment. If a training school trains you only on one style of truck and then you go to work at a carrier with different equipment you will have a hard time adjusting. If you train on different equipment you will at least learn to recognize different aspects of equipment and be able to judge what needs to be done to operate the vehicle safely on the road. Just like you should never judge a book by its cover alone, you should never assume the handling of the truck you drove last time is the same as the one you are driving today.
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