Is Driving A Forklift Easy?
Saying anything is ‘easy’ can often lead to complacency. With that being said, is driving a forklift easy? In some ways yes, but in other ways not so much. Forklifts are specialised pieces of equipment that need to be handled with care, attention and respect. Taking them for granted and saying they’re ‘easy’ can lead to trouble.
Whilst forklifts are commonplace in modern life, actually operating them takes a lot of skill, patience and practice. When learning to become a forklift driver, this is a common question to ask when looking for tips. Many people believe that because they have used similar equipment before, or because they can drive other machinery, they will easily be able to transition into a forklift. Often, this is not the case. Here is our guide to discover whether a forklift is easy to drive.
Driving a car vs. driving a forklift
Over 40 million people have a full registered driving license in the UK. This does not mean that over 40 million people are automatically qualified to drive a forklift. Is driving a forklift easy if you are already licensed to drive a car? Not necessarily.
There are obvious similarities. They both have wheels, a steering wheel and are made mobile by an engine or motor. But the actual practical nature of driving both vehicles is very different. Forklifts operate with two pedals, an accelerator and a brake, and usually have a forwards and reverse gear. You may think this sounds similar to an automatic car, but the actual process of driving a forklift is very different because of different factors, one of which being rear-wheel steering.
Rear-wheel steering means that the wheels do not turn on the front axle, but will instead move on the rear axle. This has many benefits for uses in working environments. Rear-axle drive means that the machine has a much larger range of motion, increasing the turning circle to allow for more precise driving. Do not be fooled into thinking that being able to drive a car makes it is easy to drive a forklift, they are in fact very different.
Are forklifts easy to drive without regular practice?
Once you have received appropriate training to become a forklift driver it is important that you do not become complacent. Regular practice is imperative to ensure that you continue to use machinery in an efficient and safe manner.
Contrary to popular belief, using a forklift in your everyday work life is not an effective means of keeping your skills sharp. In fact, one of the best ways to practice is to put some time aside and work on the fundamentals.
Fundamentals of forklift driving include simple operations such as moving forwards and backwards in a controlled manner, to more complex maneuvers such as safe parking and driving whilst carrying heavy loads. You should not be afraid to ask your employer for a bit of time to hone your skills, be sure to emphasise that it is purely so you can perform your role efficiently and safely.
Important tips when driving a forklift
So, is driving a forklift easy? The short answer is, it can be. There are many tips that can be implemented to make the experience of driving a forklift easier. Often, effective driving begins before you even get into the cab. Performing regular safety checks on your vehicle can eliminate many causes of bad driving; you should always check your brakes, steering mechanisms and tyres before performing any maneuvers. Faults with any of these systems could lead to dangerous situations arising.
Once you have performed your safety checks on the exterior of your vehicle you can then enter the cab. Make sure you have mirrors set up in the right position and your seat has been adjusted to suit you. Always wear your seatbelt.
Another top tip to make it easy to drive a forklift would be to always remember your training. When performing loading or unloading procedures always follow the advice you have been given by instructors, they will know what they are talking about and will be able to ensure you do your job safely. Once you have completed the job you need to do, always make sure that the forklift is stored away and parked safely with parking brakes on.
How different forklift brands can affect driving style
For example, Caterpillar equipment will drive in a completely different way to JCB machinery, which will also in turn work differently to Hyster forklifts and so on. Asking ‘is it easy to drive a forklift’ is a loaded question. You may find it easy to drive a Still forklift, but may find it harder to work with Nissan products or vice versa, it truly depends on what you are used to.
The important thing to remember when considering ‘is driving a forklift easy’ is this. When you are provided with appropriate training by a qualified professional, combined with enough time to practice your skills, there is nothing stopping you from finding the process easy. However, do not become complacent and always treat your machinery with the respect it deserves.