I Can Drive A Car—Can I Drive A Forklift?

I Can Drive A Car—Can I Drive A Forklift?

Lots of people have passed their driving test and got a licence to drive a car, only to find that the newly acquired skill is the gateway to lots of job opportunities—but does that mean you can easily drive other types of wheeled machinery that you’d find in a warehouse, yard or factory, such as a forklift or powered lift truck?

The short answer is that to drive a forklift, you need a forklift licence, but… you may find it easier to learn how to drive and operate a forklift if you’ve already been through the process of learning to drive a car. 

One of the main reasons for this is because you’ve been through the process of learning how to handle a piece of heavy wheeled machinery, as well as having the experience of studying and passing your theory test—which you’ll need to do when getting your forklift licence, too (though the theory has a lot more specific health and safety laws to learn). 

But being able to already drive a car can also present some challenges when learning to drive a forklift. Here are some of the main differences between learning how to drive a car and how to drive a forklift: 

 1.Forklifts steer from the rear axle

This means that when you turn, the rear of the forklift swings out, which often catches out new drivers, who end up hitting the counterbalance (the rear) of the forklift into racking or posts.

 2.Forklifts have big blind spots behind the mast 

This means that you have to be aware of obstacles at all times, such as narrow poles—and even other forklifts driving towards you. It’s quite common for new forklift drivers to drive into something without having seen it all, because it’s in one of the blind spots. Be aware!

3. Forklifts are slow… 

This can be a tricky adjustment for car drivers, who are used to having more control over the speed of the vehicle. But because most forklifts are used in areas with pedestrian traffic, the speed is limited to approximately 15kph. 

4. Forklifts are extremely heavy 

We know it might be hard to believe, but even a small forklift actually weighs a lot more than a car! This is because of the amount of weight they have to lift in operation—and, of course, the forklift needs to be heavier than that. For example, a forklift that’s capable of lifting three tonnes could weigh upwards of four and a half tonnes.

 5. Forklifts don’t stop quickly

The brakes on a forklift are known for being slow, which isn’t a huge health and safety hazard when they operate at a speed of around 15mph, but it can be an adjustment for car drivers who are used to being able to slam on the breaks for an emergency stop. So you need to factor in the additional time it will take your forklift to come to a complete stop if you’re used to driving a car.  


If you’re looking for forklift training or forklift hire, we’re here to help. Get in touch with one of our experts today.