Feeling Discouraged - Afraid To Park At Crowded Truck Stops

Topic 15198 | Page 1

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Gloria K.'s Comment
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I've been OTR on my own for a little over a month now. So far so good for the most part. Overall, I'm really enjoying myself, & I'm getting the hang of things. But last week I had a really tough back, & though I eventually got the truck in there & managed to not hit anything, I feel like the experience was a whole lot more suck than success! When it comes to backing, I get the basics. And as long as I have some room for error, I have no problems getting the trailer where it needs to be. But this spot was so tight, there was VERY little room for error! I'd try something, & then I'd have to stop because I was going to hit something. It was trial, error, trial, error, trial, error.... for an hour and forty-five minutes! It really did a number on my confidence, & since then I've been terrified to park at any truck stop that requires anything more than a straight back. Also won't pull forward into a spot unless I'm confident I have enough room to make the turn. I've got some time today, & there's a fairly empty parking lot in which I can practice... But I just got done doing that for a bit & got frustrated all over again. I hate this "trial, error" stuff! I want a fricken formula! I want my mind to understand HOW I'm supposed to set up and WHY! And then - how do I know when to turn the wheel? How much? How long? I search videos, but they don't tell me these things. I'd love to spend some time with a good trainer so I can really start to figure this out and get my confidence back. Any tips in the meantime?


Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
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Hi gloria. If u look back you will see I posted soemthing very similar a few months ago. All I can say is that as time goes on... and you get more practice it just clicks. I hated hearing that answer from others and cried and pounded the steering wheel out of frustration. Also I need to force my anxiety level down. I no longer care if there are trucks or cars waiting for mw cause I need to focus on the task.

I've been out almost 5 months bow and I'm getting much better. As for truck stops: go to petro TA and flying j with more than 200 spaces. Go all the way to the back.... people are lazy and won't park there. Usually pilots and loves are smaller.... you can find larger ones... but they are rare. Loves in little Rock ar is horrible for any driver.

Another issue is drive nights as much as you can for now. When you park. The TS will be empty and you can practice backing. Get the trucking path app.... it not only tells you space numbers.. but the reviews will say "narrow spaces.... not a good place for rookies.... great parking anytime". It will also give you parking availibilty for each stop.. rest area.. and weigh stations.

When u find a place you are comfortable record it somewhere. I have a list of great places that work for me. I know the lay out of the places and how to get there. I know they will have parking at 3am.

Also.... dont park within 50 miles of a major city. Those TS will fill up faster and earlier. I can find parking in the flying j in ky at 8pm... but St louis will be done by 2pm. :(

Driving during the day isn't so stressful anymore.... cause I can back better so I'm not worried about finding a place.

Good luck


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Pianoman's Comment
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Do you have the option of getting additional backing training at your company? I know at my company, they can give us additional training if we ask for it (within reason, I'm sure). Everything Rainy said is spot on, but if it's taking you an hour and forty-five minutes to back into a tight spot, you might benefit from additional training. Depending on how you are logging that time, it is either cutting significantly into your paycheck or your break time.

By the way, sometimes a spot just isn't worth it. I am normally pretty confident in my backing, but there are times I pull into a truck stop at the end of my "day" and can't back worth a darn. If after a few tries I can't back into a particular spot, I'll go try another one. It's not worth the risk and annoying every one lining up waiting for me.

∆_Danielsahn_∆'s Comment
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You successfully backed into a tight spot, it may have shaken you up, but you did it! There is something to be said for that

I know that soon, I will be facing the same types of backing problems, and I like to think that I will tough it out. It is encouraging to see other rookies succeed in those situations.

You may be discouraged now, but remember, practice makes perfect.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Buster's Buddy's Comment
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I was just thinking about this. Today on 2 separate occasions I watched a day cab pull into a dock that I also pulled into. The first one was TIGHT, the second dock involved backing around the corner. In both instances the day cab pulled into the dock faster than I pulled into the driveway. That's what these guys do: hit docks all day long, and the faster the better. In both instances I took much longer, pulled forward a few times, and hit the dock like a professional driver and felt pretty good about myself. See, that's the part that got me thinking, I'm a professional driver (or I'm faking being one until I actually make it). I literally get paid to drive. I don't get paid to back up. So I'm perfectly content with being an adequate backer.

If you don't hit anything you win. It doesn't matter how much time or how many tries it takes. Even if it's frustrating, it is still success. You should be proud every time you back into a space or a dock without hitting anything. You're a driver, every mile you drive without hitting anything is a win. Backing gets easier with practice.

I'm in my 3rd month solo and I decided right off the bat to stay away from busy truck stops as much as possible. I much prefer to spend the night in rest areas. I usually hit a Pilot or Flying J during the day to grab a shower. The lines are shorter, the parking is easier. I always look for the easiest parking spot, often that means a spot on a corner or by a traffic lane where I can pull all the way forward to line up, then straight back into the spot. When I first started I really concentrated on pull through spots that were clear on each side and I focused on not crossing the lines. Some great advice already - park in the back, look for large truck stops, and above all get the Trucker Path App if you have a smartphone. I love that you can see a satellite image of the parking lot so I can scope out the choice spots for me (in the back, on a corner) and get a sense of traffic flow in advance. I;ve been known to park in a TA or other large truck stop that is across the street from a Pilot or Flying J because the parking is easier, and then walk across the street for my shower.

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.

Rob S.'s Comment
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You're already doing the best thing you can do. You're practicing on your own when possible. You're backing safely too because you didn't hit anything. I was going to mention other things but others have already said exactly what I was thinking and much more. I'm sorry that there isn't a secret formula to share with you. Don't give up.

Rob S.'s Comment
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Have you tried the toy truck? It will help you experiment with different angles and setups.

Steve L.'s Comment
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You MADE IT! Don't give up! You keep doing what you are doing now and you'll be more confident in September when the sun is going down much earlier. You'll be backing into spots others were afraid to. Besides, I often have to go to a distribution center where the trailers are no more than 12" apart and tight lane. To drop your empty and pick up the loaded, you have no choice.

Errol V.'s Comment
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If you have the time at a warehouse with a drop yard, that's where you can really practice the tight spots.

* No crowds

* No witnesses

* If you bonk a trailer, well oops! Pull up & try again. Better than bumping a Kenworth!

If you avoid actually backing in at a truck stop you'll never stop at a busy truck stop. Practice!

BTW, last Saturday I was backing into a truck stop slot, a guy across the way got out of his truck, walked over and asked me if I needed some help. (I hope is wasn't looking all that helpless!)


Anchorman's Comment
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I always look for the easiest parking spot, often that means a spot on a corner or by a traffic lane

F.Y.I. - These are the parking spaces where the most accidents occur as well.

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