Flatbed Odd Question

Topic 20720 | Page 1

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MissIncognito's Comment
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Still looking at flatbed, just curious on how much backing do you need to do compared to regular dry van? Still in school for about two days, and other than straight back, my backing is nothing short of rookie style.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.
Turtle's Comment
member avatar

While it's true that you'll have to back less often than a van or reefer would, flatbed will still pose some unique challenges as well. I'll often deliver at new construction sites that aren't designed for turning a rig around, so I'll have to back that sucker around various obstacles to get it to where it needs to be.

Don't let the backing be your decision maker though. In relatively short time you'll be able to thread a needle with any trailer. It's a learned skill that only comes with practice. You'll get it.


A refrigerated trailer.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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Trust me, no one can really back a truck until they've been on the road for 6 - 12 months, and even then it might be sketchy. School is only going to teach you the minimum to pass the driving exam. It takes a long time to even become fairly proficient at backing. Don't sweat it. It's just part of the learning process for everyone.

Gladhand's Comment
member avatar

Nobody can really back that well in the beginning. I been driving for 17 months now and I barely have gotten somewhat better. It's a long grueling process and one thing I notice is that some people are natural at it and others never truly get great at it. I wouldn't let backing be a deciding factor. I rather spend 15 minutes backing into a tough spot, then having to tarp and strap. It's the main reason I'm a door swinger and not a flatbedder haha.

millionmiler24's Comment
member avatar

Trust me, no one can really back a truck until they've been on the road for 6 - 12 months, and even then it might be sketchy. School is only going to teach you the minimum to pass the driving exam. It takes a long time to even become fairly proficient at backing. Don't sweat it. It's just part of the learning process for everyone.

This. For sure. I have almost 3 yrs OTR and I STILL have problems backin. It still takes a lot of time to get it in the hole. Just remember don't worry about how long it takes you to back it in as long as you GOAL and take your time it should go in without an accident.


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.

C T.'s Comment
member avatar

Although you won't have to hit a dock everyday doing flatbed, you will have to back at some point. That goes for any type of freight you pull. Anybody and cruise down the interstate in a straight line. Backing skills sharpen with time, still learning myself. With that being said, occasionally you get to load outside somewhere and they tell you to just pull over there, love those days.


Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).


Hours Of Service

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

Some of the tightest backing situations are in truckstops. Even with good trip planning parking late in crowded truckstops happens. Even though I've been out of flatbed for a few years now I still prefer backing a 48' spread axle over a 53' box in tight places.

If you choose flatbed do it for the right reasons, you'll eventually get comfortable backing no matter what your pulling.


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.

Robert B. (The Dragon) ye's Comment
member avatar

I'm gonna have to disagree with Chris a little bit. Truck stops have their challenges, no argument there but the real challenge with a loaded flatbed isn't the volume of backing situations but more the issue of how you back up and the angles you can achieve. With a box or a reefer , you can crank that truck around 90° and it's not much of an issue because of the pivot point on the trailer. On a flatbed it changes drastically because of the axle spread and trying to angle a trailer that hard can peel a tire off the rim or dump the load on the ground or in the worst case, flip the whole rig. In the question of worst locations to back into, the award also goes to flatbed. I've been to sites that were single lane or roads cut going to a job site with no turn around and a crane crew waiting on you to back down to them so they could unload you. The key is to get your butt out of the truck and assess the situation, no matter how many times you have to get out and get the load where it needs to go.


A refrigerated trailer.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Here's a look at a fairly common flat-bed backing experience for me - the tarping station. These things have about two inches of clearance on either side of your 53 footer. I've witnessed guys get all tangle up in these things.


Don't worry about your backing at this point in the game. If after a year or so of this you still can't back, well that might be the time to get a little concerned. Everybody has a lot of trouble with backing at first. Check out Brett's Whimsical Article On This Very Subject.

Backing a truck just takes time and exposure. Remember to G.O.A.L. (Get Out And Look) Slow and Easy wins the backing race. Take your time, it will all come to you eventually.

Bud A.'s Comment
member avatar

As the others have said, don't let backing determine whether you want to be a flatbedder. It's probably more relevant to ask yourself questions like:

* Do I enjoy spending time outdoors in all kinds of weather, from a very dry 115° in the desert in summer to -10° with high winds and snow in the winter?

* Would I enjoy doing an hour or more of light physical work each day? (Yes, tarping is "light physical work." Hard physical work is something entirely different than flatbedding.)

* Am I self-reliant enough to tackle new challenges such as securing a load I've never seen before, or spending the night at a shipper or receiver located in an industrial park or the middle of nowhere New Mexico?

* Do I have the ability to do math well enough to figure out how many straps and/or chains I need to put on a load?

The question about backing applies to any kind of freight you haul. It is not, Do I have the ability right now, with little or no experience? It is, Am I willing to learn how to put the truck anywhere the customer needs it in order to make it possible for them to unload it? On the other hand, it is true that flatbedders are much more likely than other kinds of drivers to do a little bit of off-road driving to get the truck where it needs to be.

BTW, Old School's picture doesn't really show the full horror of that place. In fact, I might have to go back to therapy now that I've seen that photo and remembered what happened there.


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.

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