People tend to underestimate how much of a chore it can be to drive a big truck. It’s tied to more responsibility than a normal, four-door sedan or even an SUV, and sometimes this fact can go overlooked. Certain habits that should be present when driving any car almost need to be amplified in order to safely and properly operate a truck, even a smaller pickup like a Ford Ranger. What truck drivers need to contend with is primarily their size. As soon as truck drivers realize this and understand it’s not something to be taken lightly, they can be better equipped mentally to handle the monstrous qualities of their truck. There’s nothing wrong with having a massive truck if that’s what you like, but it’s important to take into account the fact that you are more dangerous than other people, simply because you can inflict more damage than other cars like, say, a Smart Car.
Barring any semi trucks hauling 18 wheels and four or five axles, your dually Dodge RAM is probably bigger than most of the vehicles you can see, from your perch atop tires big enough to make into little swimming pools. This position can foster a sort of mutated omnipresence, and it can be intoxicating. While driving on the highway or even through city streets, pay attention to the lanes and try your hardest to stay within the lines. Try not to weave around too much. This contributes to training your brain to understand the size of your vehicle, and through this you can learn the dimensions of your truck. Eventually you’ll know just how big your car is simply by intuition.
Pay attention to how your brakes work. This sounds trite and like common sense, but learning to a T how well your brakes work at what speeds and distances makes a world of difference. Being conscious of how your truck can pretty much plow into almost any car helps you stay a few steps ahead of other truck drivers, so fine tuning your braking will mitigate accidents. Trucks are heavier than other vehicles, so they take more braking power overall.
Lots of trucks come with big powerful V8 engines, and the turbocharged diesel engines have a ton of torque. In trucks like that, stepping even lightly on the throttle can launch you into space so having a steady foot is a good habit to get into. Especially if you have grippy tires, those inadvertent launches won’t keep the truck in one place for too long. The 2004 Dodge Ram equipped with the Cummins Turbodiesel inline-six had more than 700 lb-ft of torque and, despite how heavy the truck was, with a manual transmission it was not difficult to launch from a dig. So it’s a good idea to be careful when applying throttle.
Trucks have bigger blind spots than other vehicles on the road. It’s not unheard of for a truck to change lanes into another vehicle like a sedan, or worse, a motorcyclist. Like we said truck drivers need to do everything other drivers need to do, but amplified. It’s a good idea for truck drivers to check their blind spots periodically and, in the event of a lane change, several times in a row, while keeping an eye on the road ahead. If you’re trying to cut someone off, you can’t rely on other drivers’ skills or reaction times being quick enough so try not to do it at all.
These might seem like common sense, or might even sound like condescending tips, but be aware that there are truck drivers who get into massive accidents because they don’t follow these simple habits. If you keep these in mind and practice them a lot, you’ll be a much safer truck driver, which we always need more of on the road.
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