Most consumer goods and commercial freight are moved across Australia by a large truck of some kind. In fact, the country's economy would grind to a halt without this fleet of vehicles and the drivers that control them. You may see this demand as an opportunity to restart your career and to apply for a position as a long-distance truck driver. Yet you must understand the difficulties associated with this type of job and learn how to control these heavy vehicles before you can proceed. What do you need to know about the braking system in particular?

Understanding the Brakes

When your vehicle is fully laden, it will weigh a significant amount and, consequently, take quite an effort to slow down. This is why trucks of this nature are equipped with a sophisticated braking system that is far more complex than that of a standard car.

Complex Systems

For example, the truck that you apply to drive may be fitted with a hydraulic system that is a combination of traditional disc brakes and compressed air. It may also be equipped with an endurance braking system, sometimes referred to as a retarder, which is an independent system that works on the engine or transmission.

Most people take the brakes on their small car or truck for granted and simply apply them as and when needed. You cannot use that approach when driving a heavy vehicle, however, and you must always think ahead before you act.

Careful Planning

For example, you should be aware of any steep descent ahead long before you arrive at the obstacle itself. Any heavy-duty vehicle driver worth his or her salt will be familiar with the entire route that they have to take on a particular day and will already be aware of obstacles like this.

Thinking Ahead

As you approach the decline ahead, you will need to reduce your speed considerably by using the engine brake and, sparingly, the foot brake. You will need to be in the correct gear before you arrive at the top of the hill so that you do not need to use the braking system more than is necessary on the decline. Most drivers will rely on the engine retarder in this situation and will only use a foot brake sparingly. Otherwise, the braking system could easily become overwhelmed due to the weight of the rig and friction. This could cause the brakes to fade, and this would lead to a loss of control.

Full Responsibility

Each driver is responsible for the condition of the vehicle before they set off. They'll need to check the efficiency of the air braking system to see if the pressure is correct and if all of the components are in good condition.

Learning the Ropes

As you can see, there is far more to driving a vehicle like this than you might think. This is why it's important to get lessons and to learn all about the idiosyncrasies of each vehicle. You will then be able to apply for your licence and be fully confident behind the wheel before you set off on your first journey.

To learn more, try taking a heavy vehicle operator class.