High-hooking A Trailer

Topic 27378 | Page 1

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Jamie's Comment
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I wasn’t sure if I was even going to share the following mistake with TT or not but figured I would in case it might help someone.

1/8/20 was like any normal day, I arrived at my shipper for a quick drop and hook , a load taking me back toward my house. Everything was going as planned, dropped my empty trailer, and bobtailed to the other side of the yard to pickup my loaded trailer, I lined my tractor up with the trailer and then I quickly got out to make sure the trailer was low enough for me to hookup too it, which it was or so I thought it was. My tractor was on the pavement but the trailers were on the gravel part of the yard. After getting back into my tractor to finish backing up underneath my trailer, I failed to realize that there was a little dip coming off the pavement and by the time I realized I didn’t feel the trailer hit my 5th wheel plate, it was too late... I high hooked my trailer for the first time ever, and damaged my passenger side fairing.

Lucky for me fixing the high hook was easy enough with dumping the air suspension, but I wasn’t able to change what was already done to the fairing. So I gave it a few minutes to relax and gather my thoughts before calling Crete to report the damages.

Although completely preventable, I’m not sure if Crete will report it as a preventable accident or not.

I didn’t make this topic to get a lecture on what I should’ve done differently, since I know what I should have done. I’m making this topic to give insight on what could happen if you get to comfortable and over confident, and to always be aware of the situation at hand. Had I noticed there was a little dip coming over the pavement, more than usual, this could have been prevented and I would have lowered the landing gear a bit more to prevent any of this from happening.

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

Shipper:

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Jamie's Comment
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Brett Aquila's Comment
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I didn’t make this topic to get a lecture on what I should’ve done differently since I know what I should have done.

You've been out there for quite a while now so you don't need a lecture, but there are a lot of incoming drivers who haven't begun their career yet. They would love some advice. Why don't you walk people through some of the steps they can take to make sure this doesn't happen to them? That would be awesome.

Stevo Reno's Comment
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Did that once myself early on barely overshot the top of 5th wheel. No damages luckily just had to straighten the plate flat to move forward then drop trailer enough to hook up. Whewwwew

Errol V.'s Comment
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After driving for a while at Swift, I had to watch a safety video about hooking under a trailer. Guess what? When you just get the drive wheels under the trailer, the driver is supposed to Get Out And Look to see if the trailer is at the proper height! One quick measure is to see if you can fit your fist (knuckles up & down) between the trailer apron and the top of the drive tire.

True, Jamie's "little dip" would be hard to notice, but if you get that situation once, you'll be watching for it every time after that!

My de-hooking trick: I carry a large ball peen hammer. To tilt the fifth wheel forward so I can get the kingpin back over it, I wedge the hammer, ball down face up, under the back end of the fifth wheel to make it flat. Then lower the suspension if needed and pull forward.

P & D:

Pickup & Delivery

Local drivers that stay around their area, usually within 100 mile radius of a terminal, picking up and delivering loads.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers for instance will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

G-Town's Comment
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Totally, 100% agree with Errol!

I started driving for Swift in 2013...there is one thing I do each and every time before getting “completely under” a trailer...

Guess what? When you just get the drive wheels under the trailer, the driver is supposed to Get Out And Look to see if the trailer is at the proper height! One quick measure is to see if you can fit your fist (knuckles up & down) between the trailer apron and the top of the drive tire.

I do the above without fail, every time for every trailer. It requires no more than 60 seconds.

Not sure if DelcoDave is reading this, but I’d encourage him to confirm and describe what I reviewed and demonstrated to him before backing completely under the trailer.

P & D:

Pickup & Delivery

Local drivers that stay around their area, usually within 100 mile radius of a terminal, picking up and delivering loads.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers for instance will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

Matt M.'s Comment
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You can feel the fifth wheel hitting the trailer apron when backing under a trailer. If you don't feel it, you better get out and look as is mentioned above.

Not a bad idea to just look everytime, I have seen someone punch their fifth wheel through the front of a trailer that was too low. Personally, I just watch my tires going under when I back under a trailer. If I have any misgivings I'll pop the brakes and take a look.

Errol V.'s Comment
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Actually in the official Swift video I watched, "proper height" is when the front edge of the trailer is pretty much on level with the center of the 5th wheel. Whatever works for you!

G-Town's Comment
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Errol added...

Actually in the official Swift video I watched, "proper height" is when the front edge of the trailer is pretty much on level with the center of the 5th wheel. Whatever works for you!

Again, I totally agree.

Chris L's Comment
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This must be the week for high hooking. I did the same thing yesterday. I was at the Acme Distribution center at Denver PA and when I pulled up to set myself up to back the trailer didn't look any higher than normal. When I started to back watching out my mirror the trailer lifted up as normal but I didn't hear the normal "Click" as the 5th Wheel captures the Kingpin so I rolled back about a half a foot and I heard a "clang" . I jumped out and saw that the Kingpin was infront of the 5th Wheel so I cranked up the trailer and dumped my airbags and got the Kingpin back over the 5th Wheel. I backed up again stopping short and I cranked the trailer down and the second time the 5th Wheel captured the Kingpin. When I started to hook up my air lines that is when I noticed that I bumped the bracket that held up the Air lines and Trailer electrical cable and it broke off. It actually broke away from where it had been welded on top of the Cab Shield luckily it broke right at the welds. I reported it to our safety department and the truck went into the shop for a 15 minute weld job. Now I'm just waiting for Safety to get back to me. My take aways are to 1: Double-check the trailer height before I start to back not just eyeball it from the driver seat. 2: Stop and take a second look at the alignment before I fully back under the extra second it will take me will save future greif. Also one saving factor was I always creep when I'm backing up I know if I had been going any faster there probably would have been more damage. I've been in yards where I see other drivers just giving it the gas and slamming under a trailer. Keep your chin up Jamie you now have a kindred spirit in the high hook club.

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