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There is no avoiding the fact that steering a forklift is entirely different from maneuvering a regular car. Not only is the vehicle awkwardly shaped, but it has an appendage sticking out of the front. It can be tempting for novice forklift drivers to drive their lift truck the same way they would their car, and this can easily lead to an accident. This post explains some of the considerations you need to bear in mind when learning how to steer with your forklift.
The main difference between steering a forklift and a car is that forklifts use rear-wheel steering. As a result, the rear of the forklift will twist around when it steering. They shift quite rapidly, but do not turn as quickly. It is also important to remember that forklifts are much heavier than a car, so make sure that you can handle the bulkiness. Before steering, you have to consider whether or not there is room for the rear to turn.
Center of gravity
The awkward weight distribution of forklifts also makes steering especially difficult. Some forklifts have three-point suspension systems. With these models it is very easy to lose the center of gravity, particularly when you are carrying a heavy load. When you lose your center of gravity, the forklift will then tip over, and so you need to be cognizant of your center of gravity at all times. This can be tricky because the center of gravity shifts depending on whether you are carrying a load. In order to maintain a stable center of gravity make sure to carry a balanced load and drive on a steady surface at all times. Finally, remember that even an unloaded forklift can tip over; regardless of the heft and balance of a load, forklifts are top-heavy and susceptible to tipping over.
Steering a forklift is a tricky endeavor that requires astute awareness of both the dimensions of the vehicle and the surroundings at any given time. Remember to account for the effects of rear-wheel steering and to keep a balanced load and maintain a stable center of gravity.
If a forklift does tip over, it is vitally important that the operator is not thrown from his seat. An article on our main site, Forklift Attachment Products for Safety, outlines the consequences and recommends attachments and accessories such as forklift seat belts for enhancing forklift safety.