Backing Tips

Topic 32297 | Page 3

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G-Town's Comment
member avatar

One serious piece of advice I’ll offer; try to preview wherever your are going using Google Earth or like phone app. The satellite view, both overhead and street view are amazingly helpful. Know what you are getting yourself into, have a plan before you arrive.

Since I drive in rural, country areas, my first time going to a job site or delivery I preview the landscape. It’s an invaluable tool that most drivers do not use.

Pianoman's Comment
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Practice, practice and more practice. It’s the best teacher by far! Although our friend Moe backs only when necessary, if you really want to improve, don’t miss an opportunity for additional reps.

About the 6-9 month point of experience, things will get easier and smoother. In the meantime, take your time, GOAL before you commit to a setup and avoid the temptation to over-steer when making adjustments (smaller is better).

I’m of the Turtle School of thought when it comes to backing… all feel. But keep in mind… repetitions, hundreds of them is what it takes to get to that point.

Good luck.

I completely agree with G Town about practice. I know safety always says don’t back up unless you have to, and while that’s all well and good when it comes to things like setting up for a dock or parking for the night, I disagree when it comes to practicing backing. My first year when I was OTR I would make a point to back into a spot at least once a day. I’d minimize risk by picking a spot at the back of the truckstop away from other trucks in the middle of the day but I’d make sure I got that practice in and it paid off by making me more comfortable backing when I actually had to.

BK and Drew, about that King soopers DC in Denver, the extra distance from the spot I was talking about during setup is mostly applicable with tandems forward. With tandems to the rear you don’t need as much and may in fact NEED to take less space depending how much area you have to work with. That extra space is mainly to correct for overhang so you don’t perform a grill removal operation on the truck on your blind side lol.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

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".

Delco Dave's Comment
member avatar

Being as green as you I can’t offer any tips other then reenforce G-town’s repetitions and different scenario's are key and the google satellite preview before arrival is a huge help. I was trained and tested with a pup so I’ve been figuring out the 53 by asking for advice from coworkers and trial and error. I just got moved to day shift last week and am now running P&D with a 53, docking 10-15 X a day. Last week I was nervous as H*ll and struggled at most stops needing multiple pull-ups and adjustments. This past week I had much more confidence and understanding of how the trailer will move with my steering by Wednesday and swung in most places without too much trouble rest of week. Was reassuring to see improvement and progress. The way I see it, every successful back without incident is a win whether it takes 5 or 15 minutes.

This is my most dreaded stop so far… its a very busy construction supply house. There are obstacles and multiple trucks everywhere

0451567001662847140.jpg

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
member avatar

I’ve never bought into having the tandems set in the one hole (all the way forward under the trailer). First of all there are states like MD and CT that strictly enforce max overhang of 35% of trailer length. I’ve witnessed the tape measure in use… Second makes for a rather bouncy ride. I’ve had one load out of 1000+ that required it… one. And it was paper rolls going from Tacoma to So Cal.

Get legal first and foremost, then balance so you’re within 1000 lbs difference between drives and trailer tandems when loaded. Prefer more weight on drives if possible. (This is only for trailers that do not have spread axle configurations like many flatbed trailers have).

Agree with PianoMan… it’s actually easier to back the trailer with the tandems set in a mid-rail setting; 8-11 hole for a 6” on-center spacing between holes.

The trailers I run now, tandem axles are not movable, fixed on the 48’ chip trailer and 57’ lowboy. I raise the rear axle of the lowboy when backing, helps a bit. The 53’ chip trailers are movable and are set 42’ from kingpin to center of tandem set. Never touch em…

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".

BK's Comment
member avatar

Deacons, yeah that is a tight site. I hope they don’t do refrigerated so I never have to go there, lol.

Some great advice I got from a driver with a great record:

1) Take the time needed for a safe back

2) GOAL as much as needed

3) Don’t worry about what other drivers might think.

The third item, might get more new drivers in trouble than anything else. Being self-conscious about backing. Very important to avoid that mentality.

Several days ago I witnessed a heart warming scene at a very busy and crowded Pilot. I had to wait for a driver trying to back into a narrow space. He was obviously struggling and I was about to jump out and help, but before I could, two parked drivers got out and spotted him in. Great to see that other drivers still help newer drivers who are still honing their skills. It should happen more often.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Delco Dave if you reread what you wrote about repetitions… you are experiencing the net result of it. You back more in a day then many OTR drivers back in a week. Talk about jump starting a career… love it.

I’m certain running Walmart made me a much more proficient backer in a much shorter time than if I was OTR. Thousands of repetitions…

BK… really great advice.

Great thread ya’ll!

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Noob_Driver's Comment
member avatar

I feel bad not giving a real answer other than practice makes perfect and repetition will get you there but it's so true. As far as setups go I think most new people look for the perfect setup whether it's tandems or when to cut, how hard to cut, how long to cut because that's how schools teach it for their course. I think new drivers myself included hung on to that for too long and now I either do it unconsciously or I adjust on the fly due to conditions in the truck stop or at the dock. I used to prefer tandems forward because I could swing the tail faster but now I prefer right at that 41 mark for my backs. I got a buddy who did spotting at a brewery for 6 months and prefers tandems all the way back (complete Insanity to me). Everbody ends up with a different comfort zone you just gotta find yours

If your starting at 3 am you should find some pretty empty lots unless your running out your 11 every day. Where do you run maybe some folks here could give some advice on teuck stops that dont fill up fast so you can get some practice in.

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".

Drew D.'s Comment
member avatar

All excellent advice.

And G-town, you will be happy to know I use Trucker Path app on every new facility I pick up and drop at. I spend a good deal of time trip planning and mapping out best entry points, seeing what the facility offers (overnight parking for example), and most importantly, location in relation to busy city centers and layout of doors.

That app has saved my life quite a few times as my Garmin isn't always accurate or up to date on locations. So I use google, TPA, and my Garmin to setup a full trip from start to finish. It definitely helps me pre-plan how I will attack my entry/setup as well. You can clearly see in most cases how and where you will have to setup, back, and possibly blindside.

Thanks again for all the helpful tips here. I will definitely keep practicing on these backs! :)

NaeNaeInNC's Comment
member avatar

I have a mental list of every truckstop that I ever cried in frustration over, that made me question my sanity, question my ability, and question my future. Every time I run across one, I either choose the exact spot that I struggled with (Wytheville VA, TA, Lower lot, first angled sight side) and prove to myself that I can do it. Usually, it sails right in, and I prove to myself that I just needed practice.

We get caught up as humans, in "perfect" when sometimes, all that matters is "good enough."

A successful back-up to me, means that I got it where I needed it, and I didn't tear up any trucks or property. That's it. It doesn't matter how many pull ups and GOALS I needed. It's in the hole, and unscathed.

One of my old school buddies (former Swift Mentor) gave me some sage wisdom.

"Some days, you can back it up a gnats @ss. Other days, you won't be able to get straight in an empty parking lot with double wide spots. Relax."

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Pianoman's Comment
member avatar
The third item, might get more new drivers in trouble than anything else. Being self-conscious about backing. Very important to avoid that mentality.

My gf (who is new) struggles with this when she’s backing and I 100% agree with you BK. Just the other day she was frustrated because she was struggling to back in a DC she regularly goes to and has backed well in several times, and one thing she kept mentioning was how she must look stupid to the other drivers there. I think she was probably a little too focused on what the other drivers were thinking and that affected her backing so I encouraged her not to worry about them and remember she’s still new and even experienced drivers have days they look hella green.

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