Going To CDL School Soon And Nervous About Backing A Trailer!

Topic 25664 | Page 2

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Grumpy Old Man's Comment
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If it makes you feel any better, I made it through CDL school, through two months of riding with a trainer, and now just finished two months solo yesterday.

I’m not sure exactly when it happened but within the past two weeks I FINALLY got over being terrified of having to back in anywhere. Truck stop, dock, whatever. Now I am merely anxious, but it doesn’t terrify me. LOL


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.
Bruce K.'s Comment
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" Don't run over the cones! Those aren't ice cream cones!"

That's what my very first instructor would say when we practiced backing. He was a grizzled veteran driver and quite the character. (Also in the process of smoking himself to death). His strongest opinion was that the best way to learn backing was in a truck with a super hard-to-push clutch pedal and no power steering. But he was a very patient instructor when on the road and there wasn't a question he couldn't answer.

I well remember the first time I put a truck in reverse. It was just for straight line backing and I was all over the place. They needed to put a tracking device on the truck in case I ended up in the next state. I was a typical "over-steer" newbie. That's why the instructor thought we should learn backing without power steering. I finally learned that 1/4 turn of the steering wheel will move the trailer 3", and that helped me correct the over-steering.

Acquiring backing skills takes time, practice, patience and frequent G.O.A.L.'s


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Rick S.'s Comment
member avatar

Natural to have a fear of new things.

It gets easier than it looks.

I drove a 48' bus with an 8' trailer - and THAT was a PITA, because of the "pivot point" being all the way back - the slightest move of the steering wheel, got the trailer all out of shape. One night after a gig, I went down a street that ended in a "T", that I couldn't make the turn. Lined with cars on both sides - it took me the better part of an hour & 1/2, to get back down the 200 yards of street.

One of the most important things to remember - small movements = small corrections & the trailer will not start to correct for a few feet of movement. The most common mistake is to not wait for the trailer to start to move, and move the steering wheel EVEN MORE (over-correcting). Once you get caught in that jam - the ONLY THING YOU CAN DO IT PULL UP to straighten your mistake out.

EVERYONE goes through this - even the "naturals". The only way to get EXPERIENCE - is to GO GET EXPERIENCE.


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