Driving a truck is a completely different experience compared to driving smaller class 1 vehicles. Trucks are substantially larger, heavier, and more complex vehicles that take more time and precision to operate. Driving a truck requires intense focus and, above all, adherence to all safety regulations.
However, don’t let these intimidate you, and make you second guess yourself before driving a truck with your Class 4 Truck Licence in NZ.
Trucks are still the best vehicles to use for a variety of purposes, such as:
- Moving house,
- Transporting business goods, or
- Moving heavy or bulky items across New Zealand.
Your Class 1 Full Driver Licence in New Zealand permits you to drive any vehicle with a Gross Laden Weight or Gross Combined Weight of less than 6000kg. This implies that the overall weight of a vehicle, including whatever cargo it is transporting, as well as any equipment and accessories, cannot exceed 6000kg.
On the other hand, a Class 4 Truck Licence in NZ will allow you to drive a Heavy Rigid Vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) of more than 18,000 kg and three or more axles. Every truck has a gross vehicle mass, recommended by a manufacturer or New Zealand Transport Authority. This weight varies, depending on the size and capabilities of the vehicle.
If you can drive a normal vehicle well, then (it is assumed that) you can quite easily manage a small truck.
However, for heavier trucks, you’ll need to sign up for a Class 4 or 5 Truck Licencing programme. Either way, the ultimate goal is to maintain high standards of safety on the road —not just for you or your truck but for other drivers around you, and your passengers. As long as you can keep this in your mind, you can excel as a truck driver soon enough.
Before You Hit The Road
Before you hit the road, we recommend that you understand the different nuances of driving the vehicle. Here are our top 3 tips for your safe ride:
Do An External Inspection
Perform a brief exterior checkup before stepping inside the vehicle. Walk around the perimeter, inspecting the tyres, windscreen, and reflectors, looking for any obstacles below, and generally ensuring that everything seems to be in working condition.
Before starting the truck, familiarise yourself with the vehicle’s controls (such as the Windshield wipers, headlights, hand brake, gear lever, foot pedals, indicators, etc.) when you’re inside the vehicle. You don’t want to be looking for these items while driving since it will divert your focus away from the road.
After you’ve started the truck, make sure to adjust the position of your seat for comfort. The rear vision and even side mirrors should be adjusted as per your requirement for the appropriate viewing range. The gauges and fuel should be checked every time before driving. If you are not 100% sure and want to cross-check then we suggest that you take the truck out around a parking garage or drive it up a quieter street.
Don’t Forget Your Driver’s Licence
A driver’s licence is a must if you’re driving within New Zealand. So double-check that you are carrying it with you at all times.
While you’re on the go
Adhere to the road rules
When you’re driving your truck, you need to adhere to common traffic rules—such as maintaining your signal properly, keeping your seatbelts on, giving way and respecting your fellow drivers.
Watch Your Speed
Allow enough room for other vehicles and obey speed limits (for trucks, this typically means no more than 90 km/hr in a 100km/hr zone). Speeding simply increases your chances of being involved in an accident; instead, slow down to a reasonable pace and be prepared to allow other cars to pass.
Drive Depending on The Road Conditions
Where the environment is wet or icy, maintain caution. If weather conditions allow for little to no visibility, avoid driving a truck altogether for your and others’ safety.
Keep an eye on what’s going on around you, look ahead and behind you, and be ready to respond to any situation. Be aware of your blind zones or blind spots, which are often placed to the side in front of the cab, behind the side mirrors, and directly behind the vehicle. Other drivers on the road will most likely be unaware that you are unable to see them.
This includes not checking your phone or texting while driving, as well as eating, chatting, interacting with passengers, and listening to loud music. Anything that diverts your attention away from the road is a distraction. You must concentrate on the road and give it your undivided attention for both your own and others’ safety.
Avoid Driving When You’re too Tired
This is critical for any driver, but more so if you are driving a new truck and do not always know how it will react to unforeseen conditions. When you are fatigued, your response time slows significantly and your ability to focus suffers. Plan to take multiple 30-minute breaks along the way—ideally every 2 hours or more often as needed depending on the duration of your travel.
Parking, Breaking, Loading And Unloading
Secure Your Load
It is important to take note of how the goods are loaded. Hence make sure that they’re secured in the appropriate way. When you’re on the go, you’d want your cargo to remain still, otherwise, you may risk damage. If the goods are too heavy, then the heavyweight might tilt the truck to one side. Therefore, to avoid it at the root level, make sure you check the weight limit of your truck before you load the cargo. Since your truck is manufactured in a certain way, it can take only the recommended limit. Doing otherwise will cause damage and decrease the lifespan of some of your truck’s parts.
Furthermore, it’s important to secure the doors firmly, so that your truck’s load isn’t hanging on the sides.
Think Before Braking, Parking and Turning
Trucks are obviously bigger and heavier than most cars. This necessitates extreme care while parking, braking, and turning. Allow extra time and space to properly and safely stop, otherwise you may find yourself in the midst of an intersection or rear-ending someone by mistake. Avoid slamming on the brakes or braking too quickly, which may lead you to lose control of the car. Give yourself a wide distance while turning or changing lanes, and check your side mirrors periodically to prevent crashes.
Driving a truck with your Class 4 Truck Licence in NZ for the first time can be pretty simple and safe if you bear in mind that trucks are significantly bigger and more powerful than a typical automobile. Take the following measures into consideration, especially while driving a truck for the first time: be safe, drive slowly, and enjoy the ride—free from distractions.
If you need more info on how to secure the right truck licencing, then get in touch with us today.