Our CDL Training Takes Us Outside to the Truck Backing Range

by Scott.P
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Today was a pretty good day. We had nice weather but we didn't get in a lot of practice. Today we did our pre-trip inspection, took our air brake tests, and went over our trip logs and how to pre-plan a trip. We spent about four hours in the classroom going over commerical vehicle maps. We also had to plot a route including how much fuel we will use, how long it will take, the route, weigh stations, any toll roads, low bridges and any restrictions. We needed to take into account the amount of time we would want to drive to be legal and to get the load in on-time. We then watched a movie on pre-trip inspections and finished off by going out to the range.

Once we got out on the range we were shown a pre-trip inspection. At that time we had two CDL instructors, which was fine for the most part, but we had a large class. The instructors did a great job and I did learn a little. It was just hard to see and hear. We also did the air brake tests inside the cab.

The next day we had three CDL instructors. We started doing backups for a few hours. Then we went to lunch. I backed up the truck three times and did fine. All the cones stood in place. At that time we had 5 trucks going so it was pretty good. The instructors didn't really bother anyone after the first backup was done unless we had a problem. When you heard the whistle blow you knew someone was a little off. It was kinda nice because we had students keeping an eye out for each other and we'd get a CDL instuctor if needed.

After lunch, the students that did a few backups and didn't kill any cones were off to do offset parking. That was ok. We had a good instuctor that showed us a few tricks and walked with the truck the first time we did it. The best trick when backing up was to watch the convex mirror and when you see the landing gear on the trailer, stop and turn the other way until you see the other landing gear on the opposite side of the trailer, and then straighten it out in the hole.

At that point, the first attempt I did didn't need any pull ups, so it was good. But the second time I had to do a pull up. I guess I missed my mark on that one. I asked the instuctor what happened, and he said that if you are off on the landing gear by an inch or so the back of the trailer is off like 5 feet. So now I know how important hitting the marks is. You are allowed two pullups on the test, so I am glad I only needed one. Again, no dead cones.

The course is fast paced and I am very glad I pulled a boat on a trailer for a few years. It is the same kind of technique, just a larger vehicle. So here's a tip for all new students - if you can, try using a riding lawnmower with a trailer or a truck and a boat trailer and try to backup a trailer in tight areas. I think it may help. If possible, use your mirrors only and don't use the back window of your truck. There are no back windows in tractor trailers with sleepers on them.

Well, I'm outta here for now. Need to do some studying on my pre-trip inspection and post trip inspection.

Have a great day!

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