Backing In CDL School

Topic 20565 | Page 1

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Older Newbie's Comment
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Hey Brett, I enjoyed your article about backing for the first time in school. Man are you right. I never felt more like an idiot in my life...well...until I tried to back into a dock for the first time when I got on my own. It seems the humble pie eating doesn't stop for a while and even gets worse when you have experienced drivers all around you laughing their tails off...at you! After a few months on the road it gets easier for sure, less intimidating and frightening; but there will still be those days, at least I've had them, when everything I managed to do right for months just goes right out the window and you feel like an absolute rookie all over again. As you guys have said hundreds of times, the learning process never stops and shouldn't and some of the old pros I've talked to still admit they have bad backing days. They do get fewer and farther between, but eating crow, humble pie or anything similar is always a possibility in this profession. As you said, it's fodder for the crowd so I've learned to suck it up, swallow hard and keep going. The other side of this backing conundrum we all face is that when you get it right, I mean really nail it...there are few feelings that compare. The sense of accomplishment and yes pride I've felt when I've climbed out of the tractor is unmatched. You may not get the cheers from a crowd, or a slap on the back with an "atta boy" from your coach or dad but inside you know you've done it! You can feel the acceptance from the other drivers, and that...well... that makes all those idiot moments worth it. Tony

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Matthew K.'s Comment
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I'll share something with you that I was told today at Schneider: Don't think about it, just put it in the hole.

The second you start trying to think about what you're doing when backing it up, that's when your mind starts spinning in circles and getting you bent all out of shape. As my teacher during school liked to say, "Stick your coconut out the window," and your eyes will tell your hands what to do.

Don't stress over slamming it home perfectly. Get it in the hole without ripping anyone's bumper off, then fix it if you need to be a little straighter or further over to one side. Don't worry about what other people think if you have to set your brakes and hop out to take a look around the truck. It's over 60 feet long; sometimes you need to verify that you're coming in correctly.

Above all else, just practice. I didnt even start hitting the hole on the first reverse attempt until about my 20th try. Its hard, but just let your body do the work. If you over think it, its going to be even harder.

G-Town's Comment
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Two things here;

the thought definitely needs to occur to figure out the setup. If the setup is wrong or sloppy the backing maneuver becomes far more difficult and time consuming.

second, sticking your "coconut" out the window is a likely fail during the actual test. I don't recommend doing that.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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Glad you enjoyed the article Older Newbie! Here's the one he's referring to. Anyone coming into trucking should read this. It will help calm the nerves a little bit:

The Backing Range At Trucking Driving School - It's Like Clown Soup For The Soul

I always approached every backing situation as a challenge by trying to perfect it, hoping to learn something from each one. The setup really is key, though. I'd say 75% of getting the job done is getting the setup solid. Being off by even five or ten feet can make a huge difference sometimes.

Then, of course, it's easy to start getting overconfident after a few months and run into something because you no longer get out and look as often as you did. So that's something to be careful of also.

Older Newbie's Comment
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Brett, It really is about set up isn't it? Bad set up...bad backing...good set up and your chances improve exponentially. I also watch everyone park after I'm done for the day/night. It helps watching others, at least for me anyway, as it allows me a chance to see the difference's in everyone's style and technique. Frankly I sometimes feel as if it should be a part of the schooling...spend a day at the truck stop just watching and learning from others as they deal with real world parking issues. I'm not judging others or critical of others but it really is an eye opener when you see someone roll in with a long wheelbase truck make it look easy after you've seen a day cab struggle with the same spot. Cheer's to all, Tony

Day Cab:

A tractor which does not have a sleeper berth attached to it. Normally used for local routes where drivers go home every night.

G-Town's Comment
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Older Newbie wrote:

It really is about set up isn't it? Bad set up...bad backing...good set up and your chance

100%, absolutely correct. Take the time to "think" about how best to setup, and the "back" becomes secondary.

Essentially why I took exception to the reply in this thread that suggested "don't think about it just do it",...and risk doing it badly.

Especially when you are learning, you must think about what you are doing.

Matthew K.'s Comment
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second, sticking your "coconut" out the window is a likely fail during the actual test. I don't recommend doing that.

It wasn't a fail for the state test, and I can't possibly imagine a company telling their instructors to fail drivers for using all available resources. If you can't look at what you're doing, how are you supposed to do it? Here at Schneider we can't crack the door to play with the mirrors because if the door is open without the brakes set the horn starts going off.

G-Town's Comment
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double-quotes-start.png

second, sticking your "coconut" out the window is a likely fail during the actual test. I don't recommend doing that.

double-quotes-end.png

It wasn't a fail for the state test, and I can't possibly imagine a company telling their instructors to fail drivers for using all available resources. If you can't look at what you're doing, how are you supposed to do it? Here at Schneider we can't crack the door to play with the mirrors because if the door is open without the brakes set the horn starts going off.

Interesting. Using all available resources? Like the Schneider trainer telling you not to think when backing?

For the PA test they don't want your head out the window when backing. At Swift's Academy, they do not allow a driver to stick their head out the window when backward.

You can see without sticking your head out the window by using mirrors and looking over your shoulder. I do it all the time. And I never suggested opening the door to back.

I still don't recommend it.

Matthew K.'s Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

double-quotes-start.png

double-quotes-start.png

second, sticking your "coconut" out the window is a likely fail during the actual test. I don't recommend doing that.

double-quotes-end.png

double-quotes-end.png

It wasn't a fail for the state test, and I can't possibly imagine a company telling their instructors to fail drivers for using all available resources. If you can't look at what you're doing, how are you supposed to do it? Here at Schneider we can't crack the door to play with the mirrors because if the door is open without the brakes set the horn starts going off.

double-quotes-end.png

Interesting. Using all available resources? Like the Schneider trainer telling you not to think when backing?

For the PA test they don't want your head out the window when backing. At Swift's Academy, they do not allow a driver to stick their head out the window when backward.

You can see without sticking your head out the window by using mirrors and looking over your shoulder. I do it all the time. And I never suggested opening the door to back.

I still don't recommend it.

I'm not sure if we're on the same page here. Isn't looking over your shoulder the same thing as sticking your head out the window? And perhaps the dont think about it reference was a little strong; more like pay attention to what's happening and it will make sense, as opposed to just shutting down all thought processes.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Matthew K changes his story a bit with his most recent comment:

I'm not sure if we're on the same page here. Isn't looking over your shoulder the same thing as sticking your head out the window? And perhaps the dont think about it reference was a little strong; more like pay attention to what's happening and it will make sense, as opposed to just shutting down all thought processes.

Really? In your initial reply to this information exchange you wrote this:

I'll share something with you that I was told today at Schneider: Don't think about it, just put it in the hole.

The second you start trying to think about what you're doing when backing it up, that's when your mind starts spinning in circles and getting you bent all out of shape. As my teacher during school liked to say, "Stick your coconut out the window," and your eyes will tell your hands what to do.

Calling it like I read it...your exact words.

How does your latest reply align (at the top) with your initial reply/advice (above)? It doesn't. You do realize that you were responding to a thread posted by a solo driver, not a trainee (like yourself). No doubt, you are NOT on the same page as I,...in fact you flipped a bit. It is recommended to keep you head inside the truck cab at all times while it's moving, regardless of speed, whether forward or backward...and; "DO NOT stick your coconut out the open window". The notion that looking "over your shoulder" is the same, is nonsense. I can easily look over my shoulder when executing a 45 or 90 degree back while keeping my head inside the cab of the truck with the window partially rolled down several inches. I want to "hear" what's going on as well as "see".

Matthew I am a straight shooter; try my very best to provide solid, factual information based on my experience and knowledge. With that said, I have a low tolerance for baloney and when pushed, challenge anyone offering questionable or unsubstantiated information. You are a trainee with a CDL (no experience) and basically offered two suggestions that supposedly an instructor told you to execute as follows;

Not to think when backing and to stick your head out of the (perceived open) window when backing.

Neither of which is recommended or likely to come from an experienced instructor worth their weight in salt. Not sure if you misunderstood the information, but nether approach is recommended for safe operation.

My response to all of your replies withstands;

- Keep you head in the truck cab when backing. At the very least it's points in all states during the CDL test, worst case an auto-fail. And again to be crystal clear, you can definitely look over your left shoulder when backing without sticking your "coconut" out the window.

- The inverse of what you originally said; "The second you stop "thinking" about what you are doing is the moment you are asking for unneeded, unnecessary problems and possibly a preventable accident".

Matthew "the page" I consistently and relentlessly "stay on" is based on my experience, my integrity and all of the lessons I have learned from my own mistakes and also the mistakes of others. It behooves you to take advantage of our sincere willingness to share this information and try not pose a debate on topics you have never experienced outside the controlled environment of school and a practice yard.

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.
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