Lesson Learned

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Reyn R.'s Comment
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I am bumping this based on recent replies...devil is in the details; prevention...see below.

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Daniel indeed a great lesson.

Ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To this day I G.O.A.L. every time before getting completely under a trailer, ensuring some level of contact between the fifth wheel and the front edge of the upper coupler. This requires seconds and as your post can attest, potentially save hours of time, worst case thwart a preventable from occurring.

Many of the trailers we deal with were dropped by a driver with limited experience; a tendency to "crank" the landing gear to the point of lifting the trailer completely off the fifth wheel. A quick walk though our tractor parking area quickly reveals the drivers practicing this habit; thus the fifth wheel plate is level, not angled-up in the front.

The inverse of this; when dropping an empty leave about a half inch gap between the landing gear "shoe" and the ground. If the trailer you are dropping is fully loaded, the "shoe" should just make contact with the ground.

Your 5 minutes to spare on the "14" experience? This is a common occurance running Walmart Store loads.

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Thank you for posting this G-Town! Will this be covered during training?

Nevermind G-Town. I found a great thread from the past & the section of the HRT that covers the coupling & uncoupling of trailers.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Reyn asks?

Thank you for posting this G-Town! Will this be covered during training?

I know you found something on it, I'll add another 2 cents to it.

"How and when" the basics of coupling is covered varies depending on the school. During road training is when I experienced the mechanics of how-to couple. However in hindsight it wasn't taught completely; some important details were overlooked such as G.O.A.L. before completely getting under the trailer and the proper technique for dropping a trailer. The other piece that was not reviewed is the consequences of doing it wrong. Dropping a loaded trailer while moving is a very serious preventable likely to cause equipment damage. I know of two instances on local Philadelphia area roads that resulted in fatalities. Not to be messed with!

It's one of those areas that IMO cannot be emphasized enough because of the importance of a positive couple. To the point we've had safety meetings conducted by the regional director on the importance of proper coupling and uncoupling techniques.

A few points to religiously follow when coupling:

- G.O.A.L. to check height before getting completely under the trailer. This will prevent most high-hooks, overriding the kingpin or worst case a complete miss (seen this happen). Adjust the trailer height accordingly.

- Partially open driver's side window and listen for the unmistakable "ker-thunk" indicating the jaws locked around the kingpin.

- Perform two tug tests.

- Get under the trailer and with a flashlight check to ensure the locking bar is fully covering the kingpin and no gaps exist between the fifth wheel plate and the upper coupler.

- Make sure the release bar handle is flush with the edge of the fifth wheel.

I perform everyone of these steps before moving every time I get under a trailer. No exceptions.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
∆_Danielsahn_∆'s Comment
member avatar

Reyn asks?

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Thank you for posting this G-Town! Will this be covered during training?

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I know you found something on it, I'll add another 2 cents to it.

"How and when" the basics of coupling is covered varies depending on the school. During road training is when I experienced the mechanics of how-to couple. However in hindsight it wasn't taught completely; some important details were overlooked such as G.O.A.L. before completely getting under the trailer and the proper technique for dropping a trailer. The other piece that was not reviewed is the consequences of doing it wrong. Dropping a loaded trailer while moving is a very serious preventable likely to cause equipment damage. I know of two instances on local Philadelphia area roads that resulted in fatalities. Not to be messed with!

It's one of those areas that IMO cannot be emphasized enough because of the importance of a positive couple. To the point we've had safety meetings conducted by the regional director on the importance of proper coupling and uncoupling techniques.

A few points to religiously follow when coupling:

- G.O.A.L. to check height before getting completely under the trailer. This will prevent most high-hooks, overriding the kingpin or worst case a complete miss (seen this happen). Adjust the trailer height accordingly.

- Partially open driver's side window and listen for the unmistakable "ker-thunk" indicating the jaws locked around the kingpin.

- Perform two tug tests.

- Get under the trailer and with a flashlight check to ensure the locking bar is fully covering the kingpin and no gaps exist between the fifth wheel plate and the upper coupler.

- Make sure the release bar handle is flush with the edge of the fifth wheel.

I perform everyone of these steps before moving every time I get under a trailer. No exceptions.

Love this. Great guide to go by. I have my routine, that is very similar, but I like this and will use it. It flows better.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Reyn R.'s Comment
member avatar

Reyn asks?

double-quotes-start.png

Thank you for posting this G-Town! Will this be covered during training?

double-quotes-end.png

I know you found something on it, I'll add another 2 cents to it.

"How and when" the basics of coupling is covered varies depending on the school. During road training is when I experienced the mechanics of how-to couple. However in hindsight it wasn't taught completely; some important details were overlooked such as G.O.A.L. before completely getting under the trailer and the proper technique for dropping a trailer. The other piece that was not reviewed is the consequences of doing it wrong. Dropping a loaded trailer while moving is a very serious preventable likely to cause equipment damage. I know of two instances on local Philadelphia area roads that resulted in fatalities. Not to be messed with!

It's one of those areas that IMO cannot be emphasized enough because of the importance of a positive couple. To the point we've had safety meetings conducted by the regional director on the importance of proper coupling and uncoupling techniques.

A few points to religiously follow when coupling:

- G.O.A.L. to check height before getting completely under the trailer. This will prevent most high-hooks, overriding the kingpin or worst case a complete miss (seen this happen). Adjust the trailer height accordingly.

- Partially open driver's side window and listen for the unmistakable "ker-thunk" indicating the jaws locked around the kingpin.

- Perform two tug tests.

- Get under the trailer and with a flashlight check to ensure the locking bar is fully covering the kingpin and no gaps exist between the fifth wheel plate and the upper coupler.

- Make sure the release bar handle is flush with the edge of the fifth wheel.

I perform everyone of these steps before moving every time I get under a trailer. No exceptions.

Thank you very much G-Town! This was definitely not covered as extensively as you just did. Maybe this can be put together in a blog along with how to drop the trailer properly (loaded & unloaded) and of course all the ways to get out this situation should one not take the time to GOAL & get in a fix! Here's one of the other threads I found on the subject:

Link

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
PlanB's Comment
member avatar

I learned my lesson as well first time my trainer left me to do a pickup on my own while he slept. It was a drop n hook at Anheuser Busch around 9pm. After a very frustrating time finding my trailer, I was relieved to find the trailer and lined up to hook up. As I backed up I felt a very light bump when I should have hit the kingpin. It felt wrong so I tried to pull back out but I couldn't. I got out to see wtf happened and immediately noticed the reefer was waaaay too close to the sleeper. Shined my light under and saw the kingpin had slid over top of the fifth wheel and was hooked on the wrong side. Hung my head in shame and just stared at it for a minute lol. It didn't occur to me to drop the air bags so I just started cranking that 44000 pound trailer up until the fifth wheel cleared and I could pull forward. Then cranking it back down till it was low enough to properly hook up. Spent a loooooong time cranking on that landing gear.

Now I always GOAL before coupling.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

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