What Is The Toughest Single Skill To Master As A Student Semi Driver?

Topic 24144 | Page 2

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G-Town's Comment
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Learning how-to setup for the backing maneuver, I believe is equally as difficult and often overlooked. Impossible to be a “proficient” backer without consistently good setups.

Steve L.'s Comment
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I submit the toughest skill is patience. You’ll need it from the beginning and every day.

BMI:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

PlanB's Comment
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#1 Space Management. This goes for maneuvering both forward and in reverse. It takes time to really understand how much space a 70'+ truck requires to menuver. Also the tighter the maneuver the more you will need to account for trailer off-tracking. Many people forget about this and run their trailer into objects or ditches. When backing the ability to make the best use of the space available to you will make your life so much easier. The "set up" is the key when backing. Until you develop the understanding of what you can do with the space you have available, you end up trying to perform the same backing menuver in every situation, which doesn't always work.

#2 Time Management Understanding how to manage your 4 DoT clocks can make or break your ability to make appointments on time. You often need to plan out your stops several days in advance so that your DoT clocks are in your favor. You don't want to be that driver calling dispatch trying to explain how you accidently started your clock to early and now don't have enough time to make an appointment made days in advance.

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.

Susan D. 's Comment
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Definitely backing lol. It just takes much practice to become proficient in a variety of situations.

My other half, who's been driving a very long time, is disgusting good at it. The last time he competed in the Georgia State driving competition he placed 2nd in backing. He was only beat by a friend of his, who was backing sets of doubles and triples. Yes, I've seen him show off to someone who was challenging his skill.. he can back a truck while standing on the step outside of the truck. He nosed into a spot, backed out and around a row on his blindside and backed into the space he had previously nosed into with no pull-ups or adjustments needed.. while standing outside on the top step.. in a manual transmission truck.

Me, I'm proficient and can get it done quite nicely the majority of the time, (yup I have an off day on occasion and make a fool of myself still), but I was absolutely horrendous when I first went solo. My eureka moment came after a few months of solo driving.

Get out and look and take your time. Don't let other drivers make you nervous. Self confidence, without getting too kocky is also a good thing. Know you can do it, visualize you getting the trailer exactly where it needs to be and then do it.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

G-Town's Comment
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PlanB wrote:

The "set up" is the key when backing. Until you develop the understanding of what you can do with the space you have available, you end up trying to perform the same backing menuver in every situation, which doesn't always work.

Spot on! Totally agree.

Dave Reid's Comment
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I'd say that the toughest single skill to develop as a student is that of having patience with yourself.

The rest of the stuff you learn with experience.

As for the backing skill you mentioned....yes, that tends to be the most difficult physical skill for most newbies to get, but get it we do in a few months or so, if we practice enough. You learn enough to get through the state test given countless reps of doing the exact same thing in school. You, hopefully, get through the company's initial testing through Grace of God.You really learn to get the hang of it on your own, in several months of real-world experience and, if you're smart, parking lot practice.

But if you don't first master having patience, nothing else will matter.

BTW, I think that learning to back a truck is easier than learning to land a plane. Much easier.

My best guess would be backing up (without hitting anything).

It is often said the toughest skill a student pilot has to learn is land the airplane safely and in a controlled fashion.

To me, big rig backing is comparable with aircraft landing particularly jumbo jet landing. I have heard that a Boeing 747 is a "flying brick". Brett in his Raw Truth books states that a semi is a "rolling building".

One is essentially "landing" their truck when backing to a dock or parking it in a yard, I would think, so big-rig backing might be a good analogy to landing a big plane or docking a big cargo ship to a wharf. Docking is the single hardest boating skill for recreational motorboaters as is parallel parking a car for automobile drivers.

Does everybody here agree that backing is the toughest driver skill?

In the army we had "ground guides". Personnel on the ground to spot us when backing large trucks in tight areas. They would give us visual hand signals we could see in the mirror. I have seen some drivers at supermarket docks place orange cones down to mark the area to back up to. They use orange traffic cones in the army to to train personnel to back up. Some soldiers jokingly refer to them as "rookie cones".

My best guess would be backing up (without hitting anything).

It is often said the toughest skill a student pilot has to learn is land the airplane safely and in a controlled fashion.

To me, big rig backing is comparable with aircraft landing particularly jumbo jet landing. I have heard that a Boeing 747 is a "flying brick". Brett in his Raw Truth books states that a semi is a "rolling building".

One is essentially "landing" their truck when backing to a dock or parking it in a yard, I would think, so big-rig backing might be a good analogy to landing a big plane or docking a big cargo ship to a wharf. Docking is the single hardest boating skill for recreational motorboaters as is parallel parking a car for automobile drivers.

Does everybody here agree that backing is the toughest driver skill?

In the army we had "ground guides". Personnel on the ground to spot us when backing large trucks in tight areas. They would give us visual hand signals we could see in the mirror. I have seen some drivers at supermarket docks place orange cones down to mark the area to back up to. They use orange traffic cones in the army to to train personnel to back up. Some soldiers jokingly refer to them as "rookie cones".

G-Town's Comment
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Sorry, but patience is not a really a skill. How do you practice getting better at it? Rather intangible.

Patience is a basic personality trait, in varying degrees of having-it or not having-it. A mature adult who completely lacks patience, cannot truly learn to be patient. One can only mask their impatience and learn coping mechanisms for tolerance. But the temperament is always there.

People who are chronically/inherently/clinically impatient, will struggle with truck driving. No two ways about it.

Dave Reid's Comment
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G-Town, the OP asked was is the toughest single skill to master as a student, and he answered his own question with the obvious that we all know - backing. So he obviously gets that part.

I interpreted the question as asking what is the most important thing to master, and I still want to stress patience as the foundation for all skill building.

You say it is a basic personality trait - fine. I would disagree that a person cannot learn to develop their ability to be patient. You take a complete extreme by citing the adult completely lacking patience....sure, for that person, they aren't likely going to be able to develop into a patient person.

I'm an example of a person who has developed a substantial improvement in the ability to remain patient. I was never completely devoid of the characteristic but didn't have nearly enough of it to succeed in this business. Yet I'm still at it...and still learning. Whatever we want to call it.

Sorry, but patience is not a really a skill. How do you practice getting better at it? Rather intangible.

Patience is a basic personality trait, in varying degrees of having-it or not having-it. A mature adult who completely lacks patience, cannot truly learn to be patient. One can only mask their impatience and learn coping mechanisms for tolerance. But the temperament is always there.

People who are chronically/inherently/clinically impatient, will struggle with truck driving. No two ways about it.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Dave wrote:

I interpreted the question as asking what is the most important thing to master, and I still want to stress patience as the foundation for all skill building.

I agree, without patience you cannot successfully build any skills.

I was merely stating a fact Dave, patience is not a skill.

Steve L.'s Comment
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Dave wrote:

double-quotes-start.png

I interpreted the question as asking what is the most important thing to master, and I still want to stress patience as the foundation for all skill building.

double-quotes-end.png

I agree, without patience you cannot successfully build any skills.

I was merely stating a fact Dave, patience is not a skill.

Geez Louise! Have a sense of humor. You seem to imply that patience cannot be improved upon. If that’s true...well, I’d bet some dispatchers would disagree. I know I’m more patient today than I was a few years ago. But you’re the expert, right?

Seriously though, my offering of patience as a skill was a little tongue-in-cheek.

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.
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