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2.2 Basic Control of Your Vehicle

To drive a vehicle safely, you must be able to control its speed and direction. Safe operation of a commercial vehicle requires skills in:

  • Accelerating
  • Steering
  • Shifting gears
  • Braking

Fasten your safety belt when on the road. Apply the parking brake when you leave your vehicle.

Do not roll back when you start. You may hit someone behind you. Partly engage the clutch before you take your right foot off the brake. Put on the parking brake whenever necessary to keep from rolling back. Release the parking brake only when you have applied enough engine power to keep from rolling back. On a tractor-trailer equipped with a trailer brake hand valve, the hand valve can be applied to keep from rolling back.

Test Your Knowledge

  • Name some things you should check on the front of your vehicle during the walk-around inspection.
  • What should wheel bearing seals be checked for?
  • How many red reflective triangles should you carry?
  • How do you test hydraulic brakes for leaks?
  • Can you bring the Vehicle Inspection Memory Aids with you to the exam?
  • Why put the starter switch key in your pocket during the pre-trip inspection?

These questions may be on the written exam. If you cannot answer all of them, study the 7-Step Inspection Method.

Accelerating

Speed up smoothly and gradually so the vehicle does not jerk. Rough acceleration can cause mechanical damage. When pulling a trailer, rough acceleration can damage the coupling.

Speed up very gradually when traction is poor, as in rain or snow. If you use too much power, the drive wheels may spin. You could lose control. If the drive wheels begin to spin, take your foot off the accelerator

Steering

Hold the steering wheel firmly with both hands. Your hands should be on opposite sides of the wheel. If you hit a curb or a pothole (chuckhole), the wheel could pull away from your hands unless you have a firm hold.

Backing Safely

Because you cannot see everything behind your vehicle, backing is always dangerous. Avoid backing whenever you can. Park so you will be able to pull forward when you leave. When you have to back, follow these safety rules:

  • Look at your path - Look at your line of travel before you begin. Get out and walk around the vehicle. Check your clearance to the sides and overhead in and near the path your vehicle will take.
  • Back slowly - Always back as slowly as possible. Use the lowest reverse gear so you can more easily correct any steering errors. You also can stop quickly if necessary.
  • Back and turn toward driverʼs side - Back to the driverʼs side so you can see better. Backing toward the right side is very dangerous because you cannot see as well. If you back and turn toward the driverʼs side, you can watch the rear of your vehicle by looking out the side window. Use driver-side backing—even if it means going around the block to put your vehicle in this position. The added safety is worth it.
  • Use a helper - Use a helper when you can. There are blind spots you cannot see. The helper should stand near the back of your vehicle where you can see the helper. Before you begin backing, work out a set of hand signals that you both understand. The most important signal to agree on is a signal for "stop". If you lose sight of your helper, you should stop immediately and get out of the truck to look.

Figure 2-8

When backing a car, straight truck or bus, turn the top of the steering wheel toward the direction you want to go. When backing a trailer, turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction. Once the trailer starts to turn, you must turn the wheel the other way to follow the trailer (see figure 2-8).

Backing With a Trailer

When you back with a trailer, try to position your vehicle so you can back in a straight line. If you must back on a curved path, back to the driverʼs side so you can see.

  • Back slowly - This will let you make corrections before you get too far off course.
  • Use the mirrors - The mirrors will help you see whether the trailer is drifting to one side or the other.
  • Correct drift immediately - As soon as you see the trailer getting off the proper path, correct it by turning the top of the steering wheel in the direction of the drift.
  • Pull forward - When backing a trailer, make pull-ups to reposition your vehicle as needed.

Test Your Knowledge

  • Why should you back toward the driverʼs side?
  • What is a pull-up?
  • If stopped on a hill, how can you start moving without rolling back?
  • When backing, why is it important to use a helper?
  • What is the most important hand signal you and the helper should agree on?

These questions may be on the written exam. If you cannot answer all of them, study section 2.2

A question about this shows up on the written exam pretty frequently. Remember to always work out a set of hand signals before you begin backing and be certain you both fully understand the "stop" signal.
If asked on the written exam, you should always back towards the driver's side of the vehicle as backing towards the passenger side is extremely dangerous due to a large number of blind spots.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Review Questions - Click On The Picture To Begin...

What does a "pull up" refer to?
  • A pull up refers to a specialized shifting technique
  • This is the term used to describe how to climb into a truck
  • Driving up a steep grade is usually called a pull up
  • When backing a trailer, drivers can pull forward to re-position the vehicle

Quote From The CDL Manual:

When backing a trailer, make pull-ups to reposition your vehicle as needed.

Next
What is the best way to hold the steering wheel of a large commercial vehicle?
  • Hold the steering wheel loosely in the 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock positions
  • Hold the steering wheel firmly with both hands on opposite sides of the wheel
  • Keep one hand on the top of the steering wheel and another hand on the bottom of the steering wheel
  • Use one hand with a firm grip on the top of the steering wheel

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Hold the steering wheel firmly with both hands. Your hands should be on opposite sides of the wheel. If you hit a curb or a pothole (chuckhole), the wheel could pull away from your hands unless you have a firm hold.

Prev
Next
All of the following are reasons to back towards the drivers side of your vehicle except:
  • Less accidents occur while backing towards the drivers side instead of the passenger side
  • Backing towards the drivers side offers better visibility than backing towards the right side
  • If you back and turn toward the driver's side, you can watch the rear of your vehicle by looking out the side window
  • By backing towards the drivers side, you should be able to keep your window closed during inclement weather

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Back to the driver's side so you can see better. Backing toward the right side is very dangerous because you cannot see as well. If you back and turn toward the driver's side, you can watch the rear of your vehicle by looking out the side window. Use driver-side backing-even if it means going around the block to put your vehicle in this position. The added safety is worth it.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

Backing towards the passenger side is often referred to as "blind side backing." It is very dangerous due to low visibility and should be avoided whenever possible, especially in a combination vehicle.

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Next
When using a helper during backing, you and your helper should do all of the following except:
  • If you lose sight of your helper, stop and get out to look
  • Have the helper stand near the rear of the vehicle where you can see the helper
  • If you lose sight of your helper, keep moving back slowly and cautiously until the helper becomes visible again
  • Before you begin backing, work out a set of hand signals you both understand

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Use a helper when you can. There are blind spots you cannot see. The helper should stand near the back of your vehicle where you can see them. Before you begin backing, work out a set of hand signals that you both understand. The most important signal to agree on is a signal for "stop". If you lose sight of your helper, you should stop immediately and get out of the truck to look.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

During backing, a helper should only be used as an additional tool to backing safely. Never put 100% trust into the helper and when in doubt, always stop and get out to look.

Prev
Next
What is the most important hand signal you and a backing helper should agree on before backing?
  • Stop
  • Pull forward
  • Slow down
  • Keep moving

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Use a helper when you can. There are blind spots you cannot see. The helper should stand near the back of your vehicle where you can see them. Before you begin backing, work out a set of hand signals that you both understand. Agree on a signal for "stop."

Prev
Next
How should you prevent a manual transmission truck from rolling backwards while stopped on an incline?
  • Engage the parking brake and only release it when you have applied enough engine power to keep from rolling back
  • On a tractor-trailer equipped with a trailer brake hand valve, the hand valve can be applied to keep from rolling back
  • Partly engage the clutch before you take your right foot off the brake
  • All of these are correct

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Do not roll back when you start. You may hit someone behind you. Partly engage the clutch before you take your right foot off the brake. Put on the parking brake whenever necessary to keep from rolling back. Release the parking brake only when you have applied enough engine power to keep from rolling back. On a tractor-trailer equipped with a trailer brake hand valve, the hand valve can be applied to keep from rolling back.

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