If you’ve never driven a forklift before, it may seem exactly like driving a car. However, the four wheels and the seatbelt (in most cases) are where the similarities end. If you try to drive a forklift the same way you would a sedan, you’ll realize how different they are, and potentially cause a lot of damage and harm in the process.
Forklifts use rear-wheel steering because the front wheels bear the load of whatever is being carried. Due to this feature, forklifts behave differently than modern sedans when it comes to turning or steering. You cannot take turns too quickly, as this action can put the forklift at risk of a tipover or spilled load. Operators must also account for rear-end swing when turning, as the large and heavy counterweight swings out behind the forklift. Failure to account for this can cause damage to equipment and harm to pedestrians.
Forklift operators spend a great deal of time driving in reverse. Large loads on the forks can sometimes obscure operator vision, making it necessary to drive backwards for maximum visibility. When driving down a hill with a load, operators must often drive in reverse to keep loads from slipping off the forks and to maintain stability. Driving with the load down the slope could cause a tipover due to a change in weight distribution. Operators should be specifically trained for many situations, and should constantly monitor their surroundings for potential hazards or unaware pedestrians.
You may think you can drive a forklift because you can drive a car, but never attempt to operate heavy machinery without appropriate training and certification.