ALMOST Dropped My Trailer!

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Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

I'm currently about 2 weeks shy of reaching 5 years with a CDL. Today I nearly dropped my trailer the first time. I got distracted while unhooking and forgot to lower my landing gear.

Upon pulling into our yard it automatically assigns us a pad to put our trailer. My assigned pad already had a trailer there so I dropped it in another spot and was going to flag a shag driver down and have them change it in the system. No big deal, it happens more than it should. Where the problem comes is I seen the shag driver while inspecting my drive tires and I stopped to talk to him. He had stopped near the back end of the trailer so I walked right past the landing gear crank (on passenger side). Well I was at the back end so I finished doing my post trip. I did everything correctly except lower my landing gear. I released the 5th wheel, dropped the airbags and started to slowly pull out. I looked behind me and thought it looked awfully low so I immediately stopped just before the trailer came completely off the 5th wheel. I was able to back up a little bit, air the bags back up and lower my landing gear like normal. It turns out while I was fiddling with that someone got on our yard channel and told a different shag driver come over to my pad because I'm a rookie and can't unhook my own s***. Shag driver watched me and expressed how lucky I was. Fortunately, if I would've dropped it more it only had 1 190 pound pallet on it.

I often times share mistakes I make to help new drivers see that it happens to all of us at some point or another. When hooking/unhooking it's very important to follow the same order to avoid things like this happening. I was rushing because I'd been delayed by our warehouse 3 hours this morning and was trying to get home for plans we made this afternoon/evening. If I had taken 5 seconds to look things over after I was distracted I could've avoided this. Luckily it took less than 30 seconds to fix my mistake and no damage occured but this easily could've cost me more time and damaged equipment.

CDL:

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.
RealDiehl's Comment
member avatar

It's not always easy to call yourself out when you make a mistake. It is always a helpful reminder for everyone when you do. Thanks for sharing.

I had my own trailer mishap several years ago at a Walmart DC. The king pin was NOT securely locked in. Unfortunately I did not catch it in time. Has not happened again🤞

Bobcat_Bob's Comment
member avatar

At least you caught yours! Mine hit the ground with a loud thud... same thing happened to me started talking to someone and walked away then boom trailer on the ground. 2 days later I was so worried about legs I pulled the pin cranked the legs down and forgot airlines, so don't do that either. 😀

Now I always make sure to look at the legs before I pull out.

PJ's Comment
member avatar

It has happened to all of us at one time or another.

Great advice!!!

BK's Comment
member avatar

Whew, Rob, you lived to fight another day. Thanks for the reminder.

The other side of the coin is to high hook. For some reason, I’m paranoid about this. And if I didn’t check it every time, I would have high hooked several times. I see drivers back into a trailer without getting out and checking the trailer height and I wonder how long they can go without a high hook.

Dave T.'s Comment
member avatar

When I used to jockey, it happened at least once a week where I’d have a driver come in to drop a trailer and forget to put the legs down. They’d expect me to fix it… even had one guy drop his loaded trailer and try to leave the yard without fixing it. I’d have them crank it up high enough where I could get under it then have them crank the legs down. For some reason, our outside carrier drivers would crank the **** out of them and leave them higher than they needed to be which resulted in many, many jumped 5th wheels. I always told my guys to leave the legs about 1.5-2 inches off the ground when dropping one to prevent that. Where I’m at now I have a dedicated trailer so we don’t run into it very often but our trailers (tankers) have manual legs without cranks. Drop one of these and you’re waiting on a wrecker.

Papa Pig's Comment
member avatar

Brother I almost had the same thing happen to me once when I was still pulling for Werner. I started unhooking , started at my lines and a buddy came over and I got distracted at my landing gear( I can’t remember the conversation but we were most likely *****ing about something) and like always I was in a rush against the clock to get back on the road. My trucks kingpin release was inside the cab so I got back in , hit the pin and pulled forward. Luckily I was trained.to not pull all the way out and always stop mid tire. I heard a thump and be darned if the trailer wasn’t setting on my frame 🤦🏻‍♂️. Luckily no one was around and after I swallowed the lump in my throat I was able to crank it back up with nothing hurt other than my pride. After that I was paranoid I would double check if I even had an inkling i had forgotten something . Now when I teach coupling and uncoupling here at the schoolhouse I always make sure to share that story.

Btw I’m looking to get into the grocery hauling side as well . Have an interview with Spartannash and am looking forward to see what type of route they are offering. I have realized I am more of a doer than a teacher. Miss the truck

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Great post of yours to serve as a teaching tool, Rob T. I'm glad your example for the rest of us ended well, with no physical damage, nor injuries.

I've had a few close calls of my own, even dropping a trailer onto the truck frame once. High hooked twice, but no damage to anything. I forgot to set the trailer tandem pins once upon getting unloaded. The tandems moved around on their own as I was leaving the facility. I went a short distance to the first stop sign and was startled by a large "BOOM" as the tandems slid all the way to the rear! I was fortunate the entire assembly did not slide out of the rails. Imagine that phonecall to dispatch!?!? Anytime I've been distracted, or gotten out of order from my normal sequence, things have happened.

I have tried to move after a ten hour break with the trailer's landing gear down. Always feels like the tractor lost all pulling power. DUH! Sometimes if I park in extremely windy conditions, I'll crank the gear down for added stability. I now utilize a red tag that I hang onto the visor: "Landing Gear Down."

When hooking to a trailer, even if things look normal in the mirror, I always stop to check the height prior to backing completely underneath. Things can actually be much different depending on the viewpoint of ground level vs the driver's seat. I perform more than one tug, in addition to visually looking at the locking jaws and release handle (with a flashlight). I may be in a hurry but never get in a rush.

Tandems:

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".

Tandem:

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".

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

Anne A. (and sometimes To's Comment
member avatar

I'm currently about 2 weeks shy of reaching 5 years with a CDL. Today I nearly dropped my trailer the first time. I got distracted while unhooking and forgot to lower my landing gear.

Upon pulling into our yard it automatically assigns us a pad to put our trailer. My assigned pad already had a trailer there so I dropped it in another spot and was going to flag a shag driver down and have them change it in the system. No big deal, it happens more than it should. Where the problem comes is I seen the shag driver while inspecting my drive tires and I stopped to talk to him. He had stopped near the back end of the trailer so I walked right past the landing gear crank (on passenger side). Well I was at the back end so I finished doing my post trip. I did everything correctly except lower my landing gear. I released the 5th wheel, dropped the airbags and started to slowly pull out. I looked behind me and thought it looked awfully low so I immediately stopped just before the trailer came completely off the 5th wheel. I was able to back up a little bit, air the bags back up and lower my landing gear like normal. It turns out while I was fiddling with that someone got on our yard channel and told a different shag driver come over to my pad because I'm a rookie and can't unhook my own s***. Shag driver watched me and expressed how lucky I was. Fortunately, if I would've dropped it more it only had 1 190 pound pallet on it.

I often times share mistakes I make to help new drivers see that it happens to all of us at some point or another. When hooking/unhooking it's very important to follow the same order to avoid things like this happening. I was rushing because I'd been delayed by our warehouse 3 hours this morning and was trying to get home for plans we made this afternoon/evening. If I had taken 5 seconds to look things over after I was distracted I could've avoided this. Luckily it took less than 30 seconds to fix my mistake and no damage occured but this easily could've cost me more time and damaged equipment.

Rob T.,

First of all, MAJOR kudos and congrats on your 5 years, man!! Something tells me (reminds me, from Tom...) that the 5 year mark is (can be) a comfort zone, just like those terrible twos.

And indeed; All what Pack said, and then some. Your posts have been quite deep and heartfelt (as always, but more...) lately, man. You have mad respect from MY household, for sure.

(Crazy question; are y'all expecting?!?!? Just asking... I know from experience. When 'I' was with child, Tom had the scatterbrains, too!)

LoLoL! This, too .... is an important post/thread, for future drivers!! ^^^^

~ Anne & Tom ~

ps: Tom's told me about 'one' dropped trailer. Were there more in 22 years? Perhaps. I wasn't privy.

pps: High hooks.... next subject of discussion...... ANYONE ?!?!?!?!? Good ole' pop cans!! (Even 'i' know that, didn't see a THING!) sorry.gif

CDL:

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Bill M.'s Comment
member avatar

Man, close call. I am very paranoid about doing that. About a month I almost drove off with the airlines still connected. I wasn't distracted though, I completed my decoupling tasks our of order.

After sliding and locking the tandems I went back to visually make sure all four pins were out. While walking back I lowered the adding gear, pulled the Fifth wheel handle, then walked right last the airlines and jumped in the tractor. I put it in gear and started to pull forward when it hit me. Phew. Normally I disconnect air and electrical, then Fifth wheel, then landing gear. Now I have an air release for the fifth wheel so it's last.

Anyway, thanks for sharing with us and I'm glad to hear you didn't drop a trailer.

Tandems:

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".

Tandem:

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".

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