How to Drive a Big Truck

Automobiles range in size from compact cars like the Honda Civic to full-ton pickup trucks like the Ford F250 or tractor trailers like the 18-wheel semi-truck. Generally, it is harder to drive and control a vehicle the larger it gets. You must use an extra level of care to ensure the safety of the driver as well as the other vehicles on the road. Adjust all of your rear view mirrors to eliminate any blind spots. The likelihood that the truck will contain a blind spot goes up as the truck size goes up. In addition, the size of the driver himself can cause more blind spots than normal. While driving, always remember that it you cannot see the other driver, she cannot see you.

Make wide turns, specifically when turning to the right. Big trucks are longer than cars, and for this reason, you will not be able to cut corners as closely as before. Drive up slightly past the corner, and make a more squared-off, almost 90-degree turn to prevent hitting the curb. This may cause you to go partially into the other lane when turning, so make sure to go slowly and watch out for other drivers who may impede your turning radius.

Know the height of the big truck you are driving. Depending on the size of your truck, particularly if you are driving a semi, the truck may be too tall to go under all overhangs. Knowing the height of your truck before you reach one of these barriers can prevent you from damaging the top of your truck, delaying traffic or getting stuck. Watch for signs that will clearly state the height of the upcoming overhang before you reach it.

Avoid unnecessary distractions by getting a truck with an automatic transmission if possible. Continually having to shift with one hand and steer the truck with the other can limit the amount of control you have over your vehicle. If your truck does have a manual transmission, try accelerating slowly so that you can remain in a lower gear longer without having to repeatedly shift up.

Apply the brake earlier in a big truck. A larger vehicle will weigh more than the average car and will thus take longer to come to a complete stop. Begin applying the brake 100 yards before your intended stop; this number will also increase with extra weight, either passengers or cargo. If you are in a stop-and-go situation, drive under the recommended speed limit to make it easier. This will not only help you stop better, but will also extend the life of your truck’s brakes.