Driving a truck: changing from a car

You need to learn how to drive a big car confidently and safely. And Sacramento truck driving school has some pro tips.

In this article we will not touch on the specifics of controlling the units and mechanisms of a truck: you will figure out how to handle a huge steering wheel, when to turn on the retarder and where to look for the “halves” on a specific model of a heavy truck. Let’s talk about some differences in management, so to speak, psychologically.

Features of driving a truck

Even at a time when it was impossible to get behind the wheel of a truck without several months of training, many driving school cadets were let down, oddly enough, by their extensive experience in driving a passenger car. After all, at first glance, there is no significant difference, especially when we are talking about a modern 1.5 – 3-ton bus, in which the driver can even sit like a car. But the fundamental difference between passenger cars and trucks really manifests itself in difficult situations, when it is not easy for a driver with extensive experience as a truck driver.

  • Dynamics. Yes, modern trucks are often powerful and, thanks to inflatable diesel engines, can have good acceleration, but their dynamics cannot be compared with a passenger car. Therefore, overtaking, advancing and other maneuvers where you need to gain speed without delay should be calculated in a special way, in particular, taking into account the high weight of the car. Add to this the significant overall length of the vehicle – because of this, overtaking requires significantly more space.
  • Maneuvering. When a large vehicle is maneuvering, monitoring the rear dimensions is more important than in the case of a passenger car. Trucks have a larger rear overhang, which, when turning, extends to the side a considerable distance. In addition, on many heavy trucks you need to monitor the upper clearance, which car drivers usually do not worry about.

Every self-respecting professional truck driver can perfectly sense the dimensions of his vehicle.

  • Trucks are different. Unlike passenger cars, trucks come in different architectures (hooded, hoodless, two-axle, three-axle, flatbed, vans, buses, etc.). Be prepared that different trucks react differently to driver inputs. That is, if you learned to drive one type of truck and then switched to another, you should learn new skills before starting intensive use.
  • Repair. The service life and reliability of commercial vehicles are fundamentally higher than passenger vehicles, but we should not forget that the crew does not often have the happiness of driving a new truck. And repairing a large car is much more expensive, more difficult and time-consuming than repairing a passenger car. That is, despite its external power and indestructibility, a truck must be treated no less carefully than a fragile family hatchback.

Beginner mistakes

In the circles of amateur drivers, there is a set of stereotypes regarding the world of professionals working on commercial vehicles. Along with the change in status, yesterday’s amateur with category B license will have to get rid of these erroneous judgments.

  • Everything is visible from above. Yes, the driver of a cab-over-engine cabover tractor sees much more from his seat. But the real benefit from this will only be in a traffic jam. And on the highway, the ability to see the road far ahead is usually offset by the large length of the heavy truck, its mass and acceleration. That is, a high cabin is not an additional advantage, for example, when overtaking. Moreover, due to the high cab, some trucks and large vans have blind spots that take some getting used to.

A high driver’s seat is both good and bad. You need to get used to this position in space.

  • Reassessment of the machine’s capabilities. The high speed characteristics of many modern trucks (in particular, buses) often “substitute” their drivers. Good dynamics must be used with great care, because dynamic acceleration is often followed by another maneuver – braking, changing lanes, turning – and the average truck does not perform it as easily as acceleration, resulting in a serious accident.
  • “Tanks are not afraid of dirt.” Large, high-profile wheels and dimensional parts of their suspension inspire many people to believe in the indestructibility of the chassis of trucks. Because, they say, they are not afraid of holes on the asphalt. This opinion is erroneous, if only because many European models are designed purely for high-quality roads. As a result of careless operation on rough roads, even the most reliable commercial vehicles require repairs much more often

Finally, it is worth adding that, having changed from a passenger car to a truck, the driver often receives a new task for him: to save fuel and the life of the vehicle. And it’s also worth mastering this art because it can be useful to you when driving your own family car.

The concept of behavior for a truck driver and a car driver are significantly different. Not all truck drivers understand this, and we see the consequences of this on the roads from time to time.


A truck with yesterday’s car driver at the wheel is, frankly speaking, a very dangerous object. Due to its size and weight, it can cause a lot of trouble if a novice driver makes mistakes. Therefore, if you need to change to a truck, we advise you to consider yourself a beginner for, say, the first half of the year and behave very reservedly on the road. And your previous passenger experience should not be “credited” to your professional experience as a truck driver – the difference in the behavior of cars of the categories is too great. And the price of a driver’s mistake is incomparably worse.



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