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5 Myths about Driving a Forklift You Should Know

Updated: Sep 3, 2021

This might sound surprising, but not all people know what is defined as a forklift, what it is like to drive one, and if specialized training is required to do so. Interestingly, even more, people think that a forklift is easy to drive like an average car and that anyone can just jump on and drive away.

These assumptions are nothing but common misconceptions about operating a forklift.

Here we are going to bust some common myths associated with forklifts so that you may have a more accurate outlook.

MYTH # 1: A Full, Valid Forklift Driving License is Required:

One of the biggest forklift driving myths is that a valid driving license is required to operate a forklift. While some specialized training is required to understand how to drive and operate one efficiently and safely, a special license is not necessary to drive a forklift.

In fact, if you can’t drive a car at all, or don’t own a driving license, you can still operate a forklift. However, it would be useful if you gain some basic knowledge of driving beforehand.

A lift truck professional would strongly suggest that you take an operator safety training course to get certified. This class includes some classroom time as well as a driving test which will allow the instructor to see the operator’s strengths and weaknesses and address them with the operator individually. If you operate a lift truck at work your employer should make available to you the necessary training resources so that you may attain this credential. Upon completion and passing of the course you should receive a certificate that states what lift truck you are authorized to operate and is only valid with that employer.

MYTH # 2: You Need to Pass the Driving Test to Get Certified:

Opting for forklift training is essential, especially if you are looking to work in areas like a warehouse or handle logistics work. Forklift training doesn’t necessarily include a formal driving test at the end of it like in your car driving test. You have to undergo forklift training to learn how to handle, drive, maintain and use a forklift safely, but there is no test required at the end.

Like we have said before, there is no such thing as a forklift license for which you have to undergo the final test. You are simply required to know how to operate forklifts and provide evidence in the form of certification to show that you know this.

This is also a misconception. Half of the operator training course is operating a lift truck correctly. As a trainer I go above and beyond for my students and explain to them the inching pedal vs. the brake pedal and ask them to demonstrate it’s use back to me. Hands on is where you put the theory you learned in the classroom to use. During the test you are to complete a task that you would normally see in your application whether it be moving pallets, stacking, racking, or loading trucks, it is best to test in the environment in which you will be applying your newfound skills. I always tell my students that they are now certified to become great operators. It’s a skill that takes time to master, especially when you do it safely.

MYTH # 3: Forklift Training is All about Driving Forward:

Although a forklift is mostly operated forward, it is not all about it.

You will come to know that the vast majority of your workplace forklift driving involves reverse driving, backing into spaces, and maneuvering backward.

That’s why it is important to practice all of these things. You are also required to learn how to drive safely when the load is placed on the front of your forklift—which is quite difficult as it can lead to overbalancing.

Wow… I’ll just say this. Lift truck training is not about driving forward, it is about operating safely. In the class you will learn when to drive in which direction depending on factors like ramp grades and visibility issues caused by large loads. You will also learn principles such as the Stability Triangle, and when you are allowed to lift and lower your load. Awareness is everything and lift trucks are not toys and are in fact heavily regulated by safety officials that can and will cite you for improper conditions, lack of training, etc.

MYTH # 4: Driving a Forklift is Just like Driving an Ordinary Car:

This one is simply not true. Yeah, a forklift is equipped with wheels, a steering wheel, an engine, and controlling levers, making it pretty much like a car. But it is not like driving your car.

For beginners, a forklift relies on its rear wheels to steer, unlike your car. It has a three-point suspension system, meaning that it can handle very differently from a car. This is probably due to the lack of shocks or springs. The chassis of the lift truck mounts directly to the axle, (in most cases the mast sits on top of the axle putting the entire load on the front axle in addition to the weight of the front half of the lift truck. This axle is the drive axle and it only goes straight. The rear axle handles the steering. This is imperative to remember because when it turns the rear swings out.

MYTH # 5: It Takes a Lot of Time to Learn How to Operate a Forklift:

To your surprise, a full forklift training course can be completed in just 5 hours or less. This lets you spare enough time to go through all the theory, safety and technique as well as get in a lot of practical driving time, which is a crucial aspect of forklift training.

It can’t be denied that only experience and the right knowledge will help you become a better driver. Talk with one of our team members today to see what sort of help we can give you! I have over 15 years in the business and many more than that personally involved with lift trucks. In Odessa our trainer also has over 15 years in the lift truck business and is very well versed in the art of lift truck safety. Don’t forget to do your daily inspections and have a safe shift!

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