02 May 2021 06:54
03 May 2021 08:50
When the truck turns right onto the Weser bridge, things are progressing a bit too slowly for the driver of the car behind the Actros – and it’s hard to ignore the honking. Matthias Haake is relaxed: “Few people know that a truck is only allowed to drive at walking speed when turning right within a built-up area.”
The head of the driving school has taken a seat in the middle seat of the white Actros 1840, the newest truck in the fleet. “The cabs of long-haul trucks are just much wider these days. From the far-right passenger seat, it’s difficult to react in time.” That’s why the Actros is fitted with pedals in front of all three seats.
For driving student Daniel Haupt, who is sitting behind the wheel of the Actros, the perspective from the cab is still an unfamiliar one. “You sit so high up here that even 30 km/h seems pretty fast to me,” he says about his first experiences in the truck. The 35‑year-old works at the driving school Fahrschule Zöllner as a motor traffic expert and is responsible for parts of the fleet. The category C driving licence is becoming more and more important for his job. “When I talk to customers and the workshops, I just have to know what I’m talking about,” says Daniel.
The name of the huge site that Daniel is heading for is “Kanzlers Weide”. The fairground of the city of Minden is used as a car park for most of the year round. Commuters can park their cars here and get to the city centre via the pedestrian bridge. It’s ideal for driving schools to do some manoeuvring or even practice picking up swap bodies.
The latter isn’t necessary to pass the test, but Zöllner still offers training for it. Right now for Daniel, this means taking tight turns and manoeuvring backwards, for which the MirrorCam fitted as standard in the Actros is a great help. “The system has me thoroughly convinced,” says Haake. “The view forwards out to the side is no longer blocked by mirrors, and the overview that the displays on the A-pillars provide is outstanding. The cameras pan to the rear so the full length of the truck is always in view.” Daniel, who has gained his own first experiences with modern truck technology in the past weeks, is also impressed.
“The priority is always put on a rested driver who drives with foresight and uses the possibilities offered by the technology in a targeted and sensible way.”
– Matthias Haake, head of the driving school
With its locations in Lemgo, Detmold, Bielefeld, Minden, Hanover and Berlin, Fahrschule Zöllner is one of the largest driving schools in Germany. Every year, it trains a total of 600 to 700 new truck drivers at its locations. The company’s fleet has 18 commercial vehicles, with most of the trucks from Mercedes‑Benz. Haake: “A driving school should always have the fleet of vehicles available that the hauliers use. “We also went for the Actros because we are convinced of the vehicle and have very good support and cooperation with the branch,” Haake continues.
The 51-year-old also occasionally works as a TruckTrainer for Mercedes‑Benz. When there are new technologies, especially safety and assistance systems, he always knows about them very early on. “In our job, it’s also important to keep learning,” he says. He has known the current Actros series inside out for a long time now.
However, for the experienced driving instructor, dealing with modern safety and assistance systems is only one aspect of being trained well. “The priority is always put on a rested driver who drives with foresight and uses the possibilities offered by technology in a targeted and sensible way.” However, aids such as the Sideguard Assist are still important and can save lives – as can turning right at walking speed.
Photos: Sebastian Vollmert