Simple Ways to Overcome Forklift Driving Anxiety

Photo courtesy of Center for Sacramento History (via

Photo courtesy of Center for Sacramento History (via

Not everybody is cut out to be a forklift operator. Some people experience anxiety when getting behind the wheel of heavy equipment vehicles.

Forklift driving anxiety can cause operators stress. It can limit their ability to do their job. And it can sometimes put their fellow workers in danger.

Operators who are tentative or overly cautious because they fear making a mistake or getting into an accident put others at risk by driving too slowly, not focusing on other people or vehicles, and can sometimes even become paralyzed by their anxiety, bringing the efficiency of the workplace to a stop.

Overcoming Forklift Anxiety

Forklift driving anxiety generally is a comfort issue. Operators who are inexperienced can sometimes be intimidated when they get behind the wheel of these big machines.

Prolonged, patient training is often the best solution. The longer somebody spends learning how to operate a forklift in a controlled environment — away from other people, other vehicles, and potentially dangerous situations — the more comfortable they can become operating their vehicle.

Another factor is how people are trained to drive forklifts. Some forklift drivers need a little more reinforcement and reassurance than others.

“One size fits all” forklift training or trying to teach somebody how to operate heavy machinery by simply handing them a manual or making them watch a video won’t be enough for people with forklift driving anxiety.

Transitioning into the Job

Forklift trainers need to assure that operator trainees are completely comfortable and at ease with driving a forklift before putting them into real-world situations.

While new drivers might say they are ready to go to work, they need to prove it by passing a driving test that exhibits both their skills and their comfort level.

Forklift certification training should include both measurable tactical skills. These include such skills as driving a prescribed route; lifting, transporting, and placing a palletized load within a time limit; and exhibiting safety essentials such as slowing down at intersections, honking the horn to warn others of their presence, and always wearing a seatbelt.

Trainer Responsibility

But trainers also need to be aware of new operators’ comfort level by observing if they are overly cautious, driving too slowly, or appearing to be intimidated by the experience of operating a forklift.

If a new operator shows indications of forklift driving anxiety, they may require additional training before being allowed to drive their vehicle in actual workplace situations. In extreme cases, they can be reassigned to other job responsibilities that don’t include driving a forklift.


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