Being the PA Driver

As the PA Driver you will have to drive a vehicle for the production.  This is a very loose title as the vehicle can be any Class ‘C’ vehicle.  These range from cars to 5 ton cube trucks.  Any vehicle that is larger then a 1 ton pick up truck (i.e. Ford F-350) requires extra special care and attention.   These trucks must be operated as if you are driving a 40 ton truck and trailer.

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Before you jump into a big truck for the first time, please go to http://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/dmv/dl/driverhandbooks and download the latest version of the Commercial Driver Handbook.

 This long document explains in detail how to drive the truck in the city, parking, up and down hills and the dangers to watch out for.  Each year I download the latest version and read through it as sometimes things change and new ideas are added.

 These trucks usually have a lift gate on the rear.  This gate also acts as the door to lock up the rear of the truck.  This lift gate is extremely dangerous and special considerations must be maintained at all times.

Safety and Operation of the Lift Gate:


ALWAYS BE AWARE OF WHERE THE GATE IS AND WHERE YOU AND EVERY PERSON AROUND THE GATE IS.

 *******************  I can not stress this enough, a moment of inattention can cost someone their life.  *************************


  • This gate can weigh up to 2000 lbs.  NEVER stand or be under it at ANY time!  If something fails in the hydraulics, this WILL come crashing down.  I have experienced a lift gate failure first hand.   The sound and ground shaking that it caused when it fell from only 3 feet from the ground was like a bomb exploding next to me.   The gust of air from it knocked me off my feet.  Be very attentive around an operating gate.

 

  • Before operating the gate, look around it and see it anything will be in its path.  If so, move the item out of the way.
  • Once it is clear to operate the gate, You must announce these phrases every time in a load and clear voice –
    • When bringing the gate up from ground level – “Gate Coming Up. Stand clear.”
    • When bringing the gate down from top level – “Gate Going Down. Gate Away. Stand Clear.”
    • Just before you reach the top or bottom, about 5 inches or so away – “Watch your toes and hands.”
    • When Gate has reaches the top – “Gate Is Up.”
    • When Gate has reached the ground – “Gate Is Down.”
    • Any person near the gate must echo back to you a response.  DO NOT move the gate if a person near you didn’t echo you.  Repeat yourself until they echo you or acknowledge you.

 

  • During the operation of the gate, You must be watching the area the gate is traveling and if you notice something that doesn’t look right, stop the gate and get a closer look.  You are operating that gate so you are responsible for any and all damage caused by a gate crushing an object.  Never have any object in the path of the gate’s travel.  This gate is strong and will crush a 4 inch steel pipe with no issues.

 

  • The gate is opened by rotating it down.
  • The gate is closed by:
    • First, lifting it completely to the top level.
    • Then rotating it up until it matches up with the back frame of the cube.
    •  Be careful to that nothing is hanging near the rubber seals of the cube end as anything here will be crushed or the gate can be damaged.

 

  • Be as smooth with the controls as possible so that the objects and people on the gate can enjoy an elevator like ride.  This takes practice as the controls are analog based, so the amount of pressure you apply to the button determines the force the hydraulic motor will provide.
    • When the gate is brought down to level –
      • Stop the gate just before it hits the ground.
      • Rotate the gate down until the end of the gate is mostly even on the ground.  Do not force it if it will not even out.  Only go as far as a tap on the controls will allow.
    • When the gate is brought up from the ground level –
      • Rotate the gate to a ‘Level’ position.
      • Raise gate straight up until it stops at the top.
  • Always have the truck running or a stinger plugged in while operating the lift gate.  The hydraulic pump is ran by an electric motor that will kill the truck’s batteries over a short period of time.

 

  • The Controls are very simple:
    • The Up button is always the one closest to the cable connecting the remote, The Top button on the outside of the truck.
    • The middle button is the Rotate button. Press and hold this while pressing the Up OR Down button to rotate up or down.
    • The Down button is always the furthest from the cable connecting the remote, The Bottom button on the outside of the truck.

 

  • When the gate must be left open, always keep it on the ground level with traffic cones at the end corners of the gate.

 


The Truck:

  • When you check the truck out from the rental vendor, you must do a full vehicle check out as described in the California Commercial driver’s handbook.
    • While doing this check, you be able to mark off the previous damage to the vehicle and any other issues with the vehicle such that you will not be responsible for that part.
    • Take pictures with your phone camera of the entire vehicle.
    • Ask the attendant or person that owns the vehicle if there is anything special to operate it.  As in, transmission type, door locks, trunk locks, etc.
    • Sign off on the check out form if you feel the vehicle is ready for you to take responsibility.

 

  • Whenever you park the truck AND before you leave, do a walk around and inspect the truck for anything that might have not be secured or is in the way.  Report any damage or missing items.

 

  • When you return the Truck:
    • Always fill up the fuel tank with the fuel type the vehicle requires.   Some vehicles require Diesel, or higher octane gasoline.  There will be a label for this on the dash board, the side of the truck, at the fill cap and on the fill cap.  If the fill cap is GREEN = Diesel.  Use only the GREEN fuel pump nozzle at the gas station. The fill cap for a Diesel truck can be any color, so pay attention to what is written on it.  Putting in the wrong fuel type WILL destroy the Engine.
    • Get all return paperwork and ensure the keys are returned to the proper person / drop box.