This really is going to be a quick one, 6-2 tomorrow. However, have to say after me getting all nervous in the interlude, my four hour session today was the most productive to date. I had the older chap, who’s company it appears to be, taking me. If only I’d have had him from the start!
He was, until he retired from the game three years ago, a driving test examiner. So he was telling me what to do as a driver, why I’m doing it (such as having to brake down before a corner to accelerate through it, this transfers the weight of your load backwards onto the rear wheels and you drag it through the corner under control. As opposed to going in too fast, trying to brake, the weight shifting forward and pushing you across the road.) When you understand why you’re doing something you can apply it to every situation that needs it. You don’t have to guess when to apply rules.
Also there are set drills for every situation, pull in to a stop, it’s mirrors, indicate, allow a count of five for following traffic to register and react, brake, stop, handbrake, neutral, (range selector) button down, cancel indicator.
If you do that every time you can’t go wrong. You have come to a safe stop and you are in a start position. You can’t roll back because your handbrake is on, you can’t set off in the wrong gear as you are in neutral in low range (so you have to select the appropriate gear. If you don’t, you can easily forget and select ‘3rd’, but because you didn’t click the button down to the low range gear box, you are in fact trying to set off in 7th. Then you stall. And feel very foolish. And panic, and let the truck roll back as you are fighting with the gears. Only done it once, but it was on a test!) Also you have cancelled your indicator so can’t move off with the wrong signal.
That was a long-winded way off demonstrating that if you have a procedure to follow you can drill it in so you can’t do it wrong. One less thing to fail on.
Also being with him he showed me some basics, how do you check for air leaks? On the Q&A sheet it just says ‘check the gauges are reading the right pressure, audio warnings are off, walk around the vehicle and listen for obvious leaks.’ Fine as far as it goes, but he said ‘turn on your engine, watch the gauges are at 9 or 10 bars, then turn it off one click and check that the dials don’t drop when the engine isn’t charging them.’
That is what you need to know not just to pass a test, but to survive having a fault. If you have no air, you have no brakes. That could prove entertaining, briefly, on a hill descent with a full load.
Anyway, it was a really informative session, if not wildly entertaining to read about. By the end of it though I was actually sat back in my seat, and holding a relaxed conversation. Previously I have been sweat-soaked, rigid with tension, and unable to finish a sentence before the instructor was yelling at me not to kill some other driver or demolish some roadside structure. (They knew the risks!)
For posterity, I was going down the East Lancs today, a dual carriage way, (so although it says 60mph, trucks can only do 50) when Peter said to take a lane to follow a certain direction, which meant moving over into the right hand lane. I did so and a car came flying up the inside lane beeping his horn the whole way!
How big do they want the L plates? I was doing everything exactly to the letter of the highway code, and I got that! I was more amused than anything. If anything had happened as a result of that incident I would have been blameless. I can only assume the Muppet in the car had no idea that different rules apply to trucks.
Round ours there is a Walkers crisps warehouse, and the artic’s are always going from the warehouse to the motorway, down the one lane access road. They must have go sick of complaints because the trailers all sport a big 40 sticker on the back, saying ‘on a single carriageway trucks are only allowed to do 40mph.’ ‘It’s the law.’
So much for brevity. Well we’ll see if I have finally got this sussed on Monday. Watch this space!