Can You Become A Truck Driver If You Are Scared To Drive A Giant Trailer Rig?

Topic 14187 | Page 1

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Jame C.'s Comment
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I want to become a truck driver but when I see a big trailer moving so fast. I get kinda scared just by watching the truck. So far I've only driven little truck with basic license.

Do you get used to drive a big trailer after awhile? Is it like driving your own car after couple years? How about blind spots? Ouch I've seen many horrible videos on youtube.

Michael C.'s Comment
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I'm sure it varies by person on how long it takes to become somewhat comfortable driving a big rig. For me, it took just a couple of weeks with my trainer to get used to it. Some trainers will slowly ease you into things whereas my trainer said "your gonna have to do it one day, might as well start right now". Given he was a nice enough trainer that I could wake him if I felt I needed him and not get an earful as to why I did. By the time I upgraded to solo driver (5 weeks total with 1 week off for christmas), I could flip that truck around and get into some tight spots that I would have originally not even attempted when I started.

I'm from a small town and my first major challenge came on day 2, Atlanta rush hour traffic. That was a little nerve wracking but just keep watching your mirrors for all of the bad 4-wheel drivers (there are A LOT of them). About a week in I got my biggest challenge for traffic, Los Angeles, afternoon/evening rush hour. I've been to 42/48 CONUS states and so far California drivers are the worst in my opinion. You WILL be cut off left and right, people will drive on the right shoulder to get around you and then slam on their brakes.

The best advice I can give is to keep breathing and just focus as hard as you can on your mirrors and in front of you, eventually you'll know where your trailer is, especially with corners. On off-ramps my trainer told me once you get comfortable you'll have your trailer tandems almost on that white line without trying or looking. Sure enough, I can and do, but I definitely still watch in my mirrors just to be safe.

Oh, don't do like I did, I trained in a 2016 Freightliner and upgraded into a 2012 Kenworth T660. It's about 2 feet longer and takes longer to spin around under trailer.

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

G-Town's Comment
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As a truck driver your vantage point is far different than that of sitting in a car or small pick-up truck. You are up much higher and actually can see far better and further than sitting lower in a car. If the tractor mirrors are set properly and the driver is vigilant in frequently checking them, the only true blind spots are the trailer roof and the direct rear of the trailer.

It's nothing like driving a car, even after several years and many thousands of miles, never like a car. And yes, you do get accustom to driving a large vehicle although it will take some time and patience.

Not sure if you checked out any of the below links, good information in all of them. High Road training is a computer based training program developed by Trucking Truth with the purpose of helping to prepare a student for passing the CDL permit exams.

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.
Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Jame, you're on the outside looking in right now. Like G-Town says, the view is different from the cab.

I remember two things from when I first started out. First, I seemed to just naturally drive slower, not from fear but just because the speed seemed right. Second, staying between the white dotted lines on the highway was a chore. After a bit, though, it became natural, and even narrow two lane mountain roads were OK - not a piece of cake, but OK.

You can get used to it. Some people claim driving an 18 wheeler is the greatest job in the world.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

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