Need Pointers For Driving Dump Truck

Topic 31904 | Page 1

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John G.'s Comment
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Got a new job hauling end dump. So far it's great. I like being back on the road. I need some tips for driving a super tandem 0998001001653699323.jpg

We get about 6 loads per day. It's about a 30 min drive each direction. Here's my questions:

1. Is it worth hauling ass VS cruising with traffic? I haven't gotten paid yet, nor have I worked long enough to figure out if it's possible to do an extra load. The truck has a paccar engine and it makes passing other trucks sketchy. I try to avoid going full throttle, in case of a blow out, I want to have extra power to counter steer.

But, I try to keep pace with the other drivers and they go at least 70. I like going fast, so I'm not complaining-I was just wondering if these trucks have a little play (not wobble) in the steering that requires constant hand movement?

2. How do you drive a dump truck in highway speed curves? Do you want to go slower than the limit? I get a little nervous passing people in curves, but I check the mirrors and am within the lanes.

The company is starting me with a dump truck instead of a tractor trailer. I'm cool with this, but it feels top heavy in comparison. I was driving in a turn at 70 mph and a car cut me off and I hit the brakes pretty hard. I could feel the weight shift, so I let off the brakes and corrected the movement. Made me pucker up for a second

3. How forgiving are these trucks in turns?

4. This truck has giant front tires.. I look at them very closely in pretrip and post trip. How scared should I be of a blowout and what is the best way to handle a blowout with huge tires? In school, I learned to accelerate and countersteer

Other notes: Since this is the new section, I want to say I like my job so far. I dunno if anyone knows if they will hate their job in two years after the first week though. It is very long hours (12 hr shifts), but the parts I like most is the actual driving. I enjoy podcasts, radio shows and music at loud volumes. On my ride home, I still notice truck engines and listen to truck exhausts after I've been in one all day. I'm really grateful I got my CDL , cause of all the job opportunities I have


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.


Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

John did they train you?

Okay so, in addition to driving a chip trailer and lowboy, I’m in a tri-axle or quad axle about 1-2 times per week. I learned to drive 40 years in a tandem.

These trucks when loaded handle different from a semi. All of the weight is concentrated, and tends to be top heavy. 21 tons in a 18’ long body is a huge amount of weight. The load will also shift if hard braking or cornering. Stay upright. You also need to check how the loader distributed the material. Inexperienced or lazy loaders tend to heave the material causing a greater amount to build-up on the curbside of the dump body. Considering you’re hauling dense aggregate, even more important to check if the load is balanced.

Dump trucks will roll over quicker than a semi. Go slower through turns. More finesse is required in traffic and also greater following distance. Even with your lift axle lowered, you have heavy, concentrated weight with 1 less pair of brakes to stop with. Use that Jake! I set mine to high all the time.

The big tires are called hi-floaters and are designed to give the steer axle a larger footprint of weight distribution. Very common on dumps and cement mixers. When off road they will not dig in to soft earth as much as a standard tire. They are no more prone to blowouts that a standard tire. Check and adjust your air pressure every day, these tires take a larger volume of air. An under inflated tire is far more likely to fail. Check them (drives and lift axle too) thoroughly before moving, especially when frequent off road trips are made. My only word of caution on the floaters; exercise care in the rain. When empty plowing through a large pool of water, they will hydroplane.

Good luck!

Lift Axle:

An air-powered axle that may be raised or lowered to the ground to provide greater load-carrying capacity or to comply with axle weight requirements


Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".


Operating While Intoxicated

John G.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions

I received training on operating the bed.. Not to dump on uneven surfaces was the big idea.

We were hauling loads one day within a cement factory, and the roads inside there were unpaved and tilted. Everytime we went on the trail the trainer was nervous as hell. There was one part where the pavement ended with a decline on the side, and every time the trainer got nervous. It didn't matter if I took it slow or at 5 mph, you could feel the lean. I thought it was better to take it moving so I could correct and offset the lean by steering slightly into it. It would seem to me that steering opposite the lean going slow would make it worse

I am just trying to get a sensibility for the truck.. It doesn't feel like its gonna tip, but it was enough motion to catch my attention

The trainer was also pointing out pedestrians and **** like I didn't see them. I finally told him I got this, cause simple **** like that was distracting me.

Agree on big following distance. Will bring a tire gauge to check them during pretrip. Do you leave the Jake on or do you switch it every time you need it?

When dumping, they told me to look at the ram to make sure it doesn't go sideways. It's kinda hard to judge this from the seat. Any tips for this?

One more question, after dumping, do you pull forward then lower the bed or do you lower it some before closing it?

Thanks again for answering my questions


Operating While Intoxicated

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

You’re welcome John. I appreciate that you have a healthy respect for the incredible forces you are managing. Many drivers never get this…the day you lose that respect is the day to quit.

Soap box preaching over…

Driving off road is very challenging. Very easy to roll off a packed dirt road. Try to read the pitch finding the happy medium. I pick my gear and leave it there, usually 4th or 5th with the differential locked (if available). When loaded and in the dirt I start in my lowest gear and once moving quickly moving through 2nd, 3rd, etc. Keep things moving…I agree with that approach.

When loaded and driving on actual paved roads, Jake stays on. Off-road it’s off…always.

Dumping… try to make sure the truck is relatively level, especially side to side. Overhead clearance is also necessary to check. Raising the body too fast on a very pitched surface can lay the truck on its side. Double check the gate is open, tarp is rolled before raising the body. Raise and like your trainer said keep an eye on the piston extensions (ram). Another reason why the load should be peaked in the center of the body and not towards one side or another.

Once it’s completely raised and contents is emptying I release the parking brake and feather service brake allowing the load to slowly push the truck forward until contents is completely emptied, clear of pile and the tail gate strikes the body which helps to empty anything compacting towards the front. Then I lower it without hammering the pistons. PTO is disengaged, gate is locked. Clean off excess material on the rear of the body and check between tires for any debris before moving.

That’s how I empty a dump truck and how I was taught 40 years ago.


Operating While Intoxicated

John G.'s Comment
member avatar

Good news and bad news

Just another week of practice has made driving the dump truck a lot better. I feel comfortable with it and keep good distance.

Towel idea was great. I feel no more back pain. I also use a purple gel cushion on the seat.

Now here's the bad. I'm already considering jumping ship. This place I thought only hires experienced drivers (I have 9 mos "unverifiable" tractor trailer experience and a clean record). They put a new driver in a dump truck, and he comes barreling down a 2 way road almost in the middle of the road. I pulled over, but this was by a narrow bridge, and I'd be lying if this didn't scare the **** out of me. This isn't the only problem.

We go to different sites to get loaded with sand, so there is a guy loading it with a loader. The first guy was nice, the second guy is a complete *******. He threatened to "send me back to the yard" cause my truck was facing the wrong way when I was getting loaded. I told him I didn't hear nothing, then he threatened to call my boss. I don't play that game, I told him ill call his.

The worst part is I had NO Instruction. My trainer told the idiot loader my CB is having issues. We use CB radio, and just to make sure mines not defective, I asked for a new one.

The other problem is the commute is 45 min each way. I got no problem working a 12 hr shift, but driving 45-50 min home is a *****. I wake up at 345 in the morning, leave the yard by 5 am and get back around 430. Usually I'm home around 6 or 7 pm. This week, I just sleep when I get home.

I don't feel completely ****ty, I haven't got sick or anything. But, I am an athlete (bodybuilder) and haven't worked out in a week. I am sure this is just acclimation and ill be lifting again soon.

I applied for some other local jobs that only commute for 20 min. One is Coke, others are various local jobs with touch and no touch freight. I don't mind working a 12 hr shift. I just think I bit off more than I can chew with this job, because of the commute and harassment.

My goal is to drive for a year or so for decent pay, then get my own truck and lease to a company. I would like a job where I am on more interstates or bigger highways-not tiny gravel roads

What do yall think? Should I stick it out for longer or apply for local **** that is closer to home?


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

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