It takes talent and training to drive a semitrailer. See if you have what it takes to operate one of these rigs on the open road.
Step 1: Prepare for tests
In order to drive a semi, you must get a commercial driver's license and pass a medical exam. Age requirements vary from state to state.
Step 2: Take the tests
Get your license by passing a general knowledge written test and a road test. If you want to transport hazardous material, drive a tanker, pull double or triple trailers, or engage in any other kind of specialty driving.
Step 3: Check your ride
Do a pretrip inspection each time you hit the road, and a posttrip inspection at the end of each day. Check out the tires and wheels, brakes, steering, suspension, and the lights. Check the mirrors and double-check emergency equipment like spare tires and tire chains. Make sure the cargo is both balanced and secured.
Step 4: Learn to accelerate correctly
If you're driving a manual transmission, master the fine art of double-clutching when shifting gears so that you gain speed gradually without jerking. Rough acceleration can cause mechanical damage.
Step 5: Steer with both hands
Always have both hands on the steering wheel.
Step 6: Back up sparingly
If you must back up, walk around the vehicle beforehand. Look for objects behind and above your truck that you may not clear when reversing. Then, put on your emergency flashers and back up slowly, using the lowest reverse gear and watching your side mirrors.
Step 7: Signal slowing ahead
If traffic ahead is slowing down, tap your brake pedal a few times to warn drivers behind you, whose view you're blocking.
Step 8: Make the 'right' turn
Signal well before you turn. If you can't make a right turn without moving into another lane, turn wide and keep the rear of your rig close to the curb. For a left turn, make sure you have reached the center of the intersection before you start your turn.
Step 9: Get enough sleep
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