Safe Distance Between Forklifts Traveling In The Same DirectionForklift operators are required to be trained to drive forklifts. There are many areas of safety operating practices that need to be instilled into their minds and of them is the safe traveling distance between forklifts.

They need to practice such practice irrespective of the workplace they are in. When operators understand how to drive the forklift correctly, as well as the proper traveling distance, they can avoid the most widespread accidents when dealing with machines such as forklifts – that is the tipping over and collision.

What is the safe distance between forklifts that are traveling in the same direction?

According to OSHA 1910.178(n)(1), A safe distance shall be kept about three truck lengths. That length is about 20 feet away from each other and that the traffic rule shall be followed including the workplace’s speed limit.

Why You Need To Maintain Traveling Distance

Forklifts have high center of gravity and heavy, when they travel at high rate, they might not be able to brake and stop on time that could cause collision. Over speeding is a grave safety issue in every workplace. Implementing speed limit doesn’t only apply to automobiles, it also applies to all vehicles including forklifts. Forklifts that are over speeding may become volatile to control. Operators might not be able make a full stop when needed, that in turn can cause accidents such the ones mentioned above – tip over and collision. Such accidents can badly damage the forklifts, cause serious harm to the operators and other pedestrians in the area and produce spoil to the materials being transported.

Always keep a distance because when the forklift is fully laden, a regular-sized or standard truck with its load can weigh so much making it even harder for operators to make a full stop when needed, it takes lengthier distance to arrive at a complete stop. The risk doubled when the forklift is loaded with materials being shifted. Remember, the weight of the load affects the stability of the forklift, but it also affects the stopping distance.

Good Safe Practices When Traveling

Many people have a misconception that driving a forklift is like driving a sedan car. There might be some similarities and differences. Here are the good safe practices and habits for you to maintain:

  • Know the speed limit of the workplace. When you are new and do not know yet the speed limit in the area where you are operating, ask your supervisor. Always follow the traffic regulation.

  • Know the workplace condition especially the floor surface of the area where you are operating. Smooth surface may cause less friction making it harder to brake. The condition of the tires also affects the braking capacity of the forklift.

  • Never over load the forklift. Always consult the user’s manual or the data plate to know the capacity of the equipment. If a forklift is overloaded, it takes amount of time to arrive at a complete halt and lessening the stopping distance. Likewise, an overloaded truck can become unstable making harder for the driver to operate.

  • When traveling, give way to the workers around in the working area. Keep a clear sight ahead and behind. You can use the forklift’s rear view mirror. Have it adjusted to that you will have full view of the rear surroundings. If the visibility is blocked, it increases the probability of accident to happen.

  • Always obey the traffic signs posted in the place of work. The sign will caution workers of the impending incidence that may happen. It also guides and warn the workers about the flow of traffic.

  • Decelerate when approaching corners, intersection, blind spots and in places where your vision is obstructed. Sound the horn to give to operators that you are approaching. Make your presence be known by other workers in the area.

  • Ensure that your forward sight is not being obstructed by the load being carried. If it does, operate in reverse, always maintain a clear view of the direction of travel.

  • When the truck is loaded or if it is empty, the forks should be low to the ground as possible when traveling. But the forks should be high enough to clear obstacles in the floor surfaces.

  • Forklift operators should not elevate the load or the forks when the truck is moving.

  • When traveling without a load, the forks should not be elevated. Read this article: At what height should the forks be when traveling?

  • When carrying a load, the forks should face uphill down or up the ramp or slope. When traveling downhill, the forklift operator must drive in reverse.

You are more likely to be involved in an accident if you are traveling at very high speed or very close to each other. It is definitely a recipe for disaster. Always keep these good practices in mind to keep accidents away.


Forklifts are everyday vehicles in plants and factories. Your business may not perform without it. Use of it may be potentially dangerous. Operating it requires knowledge and skill. Forklift operators must be sufficiently certified.

Does your company use forklift in their business? If so, then implement a procedure encouraging forklift operators to maintain safe distance between forklifts. It could save lives and avoid damage to property. Protect yourself and the other workers around in the workplace, always follow the traffic rule and always maintain the good safe practices when doing forklift operation.

Keep in mind that a safe distance between forklifts traveling in the same direction is approximately three truck-lengths. Never pass another traveling forklift in front of you and maintain good safety practices that are being implemented in your workplace.

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