Foolproof Dropping And Hooking In The Snow And Ice

Topic 11441 | Page 1

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G-Town's Comment
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Since the winter weather is fast approaching, I want to post my experience dropping and hooking empties in the snow, so that hopefully you can avoid wasting time and the embarrassment getting “stuck” trying to get out from under an empty trailer. I am not suggesting this is the only way to accomplish this, but it works for me and many fellow drivers I work with.

When working my dedicated grocery assignment (in the snowy Pocono Mountains of PA), dropping empties minimally occurs once per day, most of the time at the DC after completing a store run. Since I am usually well into my 13th "on-duty" hour when returning with an empty, all I want to do is shower and go to sleep and not burn time waiting for a yard-critter to pull me out. If you have yet to experience commercial trucking in the winter, it’s typical for snow and ice to accumulate and pack in dock areas, drop lots, and in my case the store’s receiving areas. Please beware, it can make the normally routine task of docking into a frustrating and time consuming experience.

When returning to the DC at the end of a run and checking in with security, (while the truck is stopped, never engage this when moving) I engage the differential lock-out so traction is now applied to both sets of drive axles. Once an open parking spot is identified, I stop and get out to see how much ice and snow I am dealing with, at times choosing to search for a safer spot. Once I have the empty trailer spotted in the hole, the landing gear is lowered so the pads are no more than 1/2" above the snow/ice pack. After stowing my lines and releasing the kingpin lock, if conditions warrant I sprinkle kitty litter or sand on the ground in front of both sets of drive wheels. For this very reason, I always have two 50 lb. bags of this and some ice melt on-hand during the winter months. The trick is to ease out from under the trailer in a higher gear than you would typically start in (3rd or 4th), disabling traction- control to enable both sets of drives to spin. If traction control is not disabled, every time the drive tires lose adhesion (which they will), power is interrupted just enough so that forward momentum cannot overcome the slippery surface, many times causing the tractor to slide backwards just enough to re-engage the jaws of the kingpin lock. Also do not “dump the air” from the suspension airbags when dropping an empty in the snow. Dumping the air takes the trailer weight off the drives completely and moves it to the landing gear, eliminating the necessary "downward" tractive force on the drives.

When dropping and/or hooking at the store dock or any dock for that matter, I always inspect the approach area before setting up for the backing maneuver. Most of the store dock ramps are inclined, descending toward the doors. If there is significant snow/ice pack I liberally sprinkle kitty litter or sand around the top of the ramp area and 6' ahead of the crest. If it’s really bad, ice melt is liberally applied and if necessary I break the ice with a fold-up camp spade (which I also carry in the winter). Once I have determined it’s relatively safe, I engage the differential lock-out and proceed with setting up and backing to the dock door. Take it slower than usual, avoiding sudden stops and over-steering. Drop the trailer using the same procedure previously mentioned. When hooking to an empty (repeating the same check as above), exercise caution when getting under it to avoid sliding backwards out of control. Once coupled, leave the differential lock-out engaged, disable traction-control and proceed in one gear higher than typically used for starting out. Avoid slowing or stopping on the incline, maintaining constant forward momentum.

If a new driver was road trained in the summer, spring, or fall months (which was my case), the trainer might overlook covering this during these seasons. Although these techniques are not completely foolproof, 99 times out of 100 it works for me and has never left me stuck during previous winters.



Operating While Intoxicated


When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Second Chance's Comment
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I here at Schneider that getting stuck is considered a preventable😰

G-Town's Comment
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I here at Schneider that getting stuck is considered a preventable😰

With Swift, I think it's on a case by case basis. If you get stuck in the yard, at the shipper/receiver, or in my case the DC or store, I doubt if they would hit you with a preventable for a first offense unless the driver does something totally stupid. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

Rob S.'s Comment
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Thanks for this helpful tip G-Town! I've already printed it and definitely will use it once I'm in a truck. Canada unfortunately is not known for it's palm trees! wtf.gif

Brian 's Comment
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I learned last year to also when dropping a trailer be as quick as possible in very cold weather. ....I sat too long and my warm tires melted the snow under them causing a large ice patch to form. Took me over an hour to free myself!

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