In the classification of commercial motor vehicles (CMV’s), trucks range from huge oversized trucks all the way down to small straight trucks. To drive a semi truck, people in the US must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to drive semi trucks over a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating.
Components of a commercial driver’s license test consist of both a skills test and a general knowledge test. The driver must show skills in making turns, backing up, stopping, driving on both highway and city roads, or wearing through a serpentine course. Commercial drivers licenses are available in Classes A, B, and C, and only Class A holders can operate the semi trucks.
The first semi truck driving tips is to establish a cushion of space in all dimensions. Ensure to keep tabs on the heights above the truck along with road surfaces (e.g. road hazards, potholes, or speed bumps). Also, ensuring adequate forward and rear space for necessary quick stopping along with proper turning radiuses will increase safety as well.
Researching travel conditions before a trip (such as weather and traffic) will lead to safer driving decisions. This may allow one to avoid inclement weather and a potential accident. Also, increased traffic may result in impatient drivers and bad decisions which can cause an accident putting one’s truck safety at risk.
Another part of planning is pre-trip inspections. Routinely having maintenance performed will prevent potential problems with tires, axles, fluids, etc.
Driving semi truck at safe speeds can prevent fatalities. After all, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported speeding as the #1 factor in fatal semi truck crashes in 2009. It always takes longer to brake a semi truck than a car, so the safe driving speed and cushion is essential.
If safe speeds are stuck with, the truck’s tires can maintain sufficient traction during a necessary quick slow down. Driving at night, in hilly or mountainous areas, on curving roads, or whenever rain is falling can make it difficult to stop safely. Total stopping length is equal to the sum of perception distance, reaction distance, brake lag distance, and effective braking distance. Adverse weather will lengthen the total stopping distance.
Contrary to a typical car driver, those in a semi truck need to look much farther down the road since it takes so much longer for a truck to stop effectively. It is also not a very good idea to rely blindly on GPS routes when it comes to clearance under bridges and overpasses. Just because the GPS says, it is the shortest route, the top of your truck may not be so happy when it is gone.
When backing up, remember a semi truck is not a car. There are significant blind spots with a semi truck while backing up, so the acronym G.O.A.L. is important – Get Out And Look. Having plenty of mirrors on a semi truck on each side can decrease the size of any blind spots.