Tough Lesson Learned, And SO Embarrassed

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Kat's Comment
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Rookie Lesson learned #127 - ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS do a visual check to make sure the locking jaws have closed correctly!!

I did the unthinkable and am thanking my lucky stars that everything turned out ok. Did a drop and hook at a meat plant yesterday picking up a trailer with 45K pounds of inedible parts bound for a rendering plant. Backed under the trailer...tugged...pushed back...tugged again...everything felt like it was supposed to. Hooked up my lines, raised my landing gear and began to pull out when I heard a godawful racket behind me, and my truck lurched forward. Pulled the brakes, got out, and lo and behold....there I was...lines all stretched out and the dang trailer on the ground. I was flabbergasted.

Not having any idea what to do, I approached a yard jockey hoping he could help raise the trailer back up somehow only to be told that they weren't allowed to help. So he tells me to put the landing gear on the easy setting and crank it back up high enough to ram the truck under it again...told me someone else (another lady driver) did the same thing a few days ago and got it cranked back up...took a while, but she did it. Ok, I thought... So I got to cranking, nearly giving myself a stroke with multiple guys standing around watching me as if I was prime time entertainment. Even had two different men...other drivers...come talk to me about what had happened, said they would move their truck to a parking spot and come back to help me THAT NEVER DID. I am in decent shape, but trying to crank up 50K pounds is just a bit too much. I worked on it for over an hour and raised it about two inches before I went into the office, told the lady behind the desk what had happened and just about begged for someone to just help me crank it only to be told no again. After another 30 minutes or so, the yard guy came back and said he just couldn't watch me struggle any more.

He helped me raise it some, and then two guys with those little forklifts came over and tried to help raise it. That didn't work, so the three of us took turns cranking until they had me get back in the truck while they directed me. Finally I was able to work up underneath it again. I was so incredibly thankful. I would have been there all night. Thank the good Lord above that there was absolutely no damage to the trailer, and when I delivered today, everything was ok inside. So...this is just my own personal shame. I haven't said anything about it except to my family and sharing it here in order to hopefully spare some other rookie the same moment. I felt like a complete idiot....and I will never trust a tug test again....EVER.

On a much better note, before this all happened yesterday, my dispatcher told me he had nominated me for driver of the month and praised my performance thus far. I just couldn't bring myself to tell him this morning about my ordeal yesterday....

confused.gif

Dispatcher:

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.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Matt 's Comment
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You may have been embarrassed but you learned something vary valuable. And you also taught me something to make sure I always check when I start driving thank you for sharing.

Tim H.'s Comment
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Yeah ditto Matt. Thank you for sharing this. A valuable lesson for sure. Thankfully all is well.

Rick S.'s Comment
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Typically - we take if for granted when we do a "tug test" that we have it hooked and locked in.

When we crank the landing gear up - we "supposed to" check that the jaws of the 5th wheel are locked around the kingpin, by looking up the "horseshoe" with a flashlight. Also check that the 5th wheel release handle is in the correct position, with the locking latch over the pull arm (for those with non-electric 5th wheel releases).

Coulda been that it didn't get correctly locked in - or the release wasn't latched and hopped out when you started to get rolling.

Betcha won't do THAT AGAIN. Lucked out and didn't pop your air hoses and lighting pigtail.

Rick

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Kat's Comment
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Oh yeah....I will never make that same mistake! I know I am extremely fortunate that nothing was damaged. Things could have been SO much worse!

MC1371's Comment
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You have more guts than me. I didn't admit it until now. Got kinda lucky as I was able to stop/catch it on the frame. Happened on my 3rd solo run.

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.
Kat's Comment
member avatar

You have more guts than me. I didn't admit it until now. Got kinda lucky as I was able to stop/catch it on the frame. Happened on my 3rd solo run.

Man, I wish I had caught it on the frame... Would have saved SO much time and sweat. I have trailer anxiety now though. Even after doing a visual check these last two times, my heart is in my throat each time I have started to drive. LOL

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.
BQ 's Comment
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I always listen for locking mechanism to engage when backing under new trailer. I don't do the "tug test," rather the first thing I do is get under trailer and visually check the locking jaws prior to hooking any gladhands or raising landing gear. Valuable lesson learned.

SAMUEL C.'s Comment
member avatar

A dropped loaded trailer makes a very distinct sound, many of us have heard, few will admit it was their fault. I came very close one trip and to this day, I am still "gun shy." In this profession, there are just somethings you have to learn on your own, and some of these lessons leave lasting impressions on us, listen for the jaws to engage and then do a visual inspection. When in doubt, check it out.

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.
Rick S.'s Comment
member avatar

I always listen for locking mechanism to engage when backing under new trailer. I don't do the "tug test," rather the first thing I do is get under trailer and visually check the locking jaws prior to hooking any gladhands or raising landing gear. Valuable lesson learned.

^^^^ And you ARE SUPPOSED TO DO THIS.

If the jaws are locked, and the release lever is all the way in and locked - you should be good to go. The "tug test" is as much to check the brakes, as the coupling. You can drop a box just as easily doing a tug test, as pulling away with a kingpin not properly secured.

Rick

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