So I have my CDL but am a functionally incompetent trucker. Now what?

Discussion in 'Questions From New Drivers' started by They Call Me Miss Frizzle, Jul 8, 2020.

  1. They Call Me Miss Frizzle

    They Call Me Miss Frizzle Bobtail Member

    Jul 4, 2020
    So...I cannot back to save my life. If Idris Alba and Christian Hemsworth we’re standing on a dock waiting to propose as soon as I backed in we would all die alone Of old age 73 feet apart. I know nothing. And it’s just not improving and I have no clue how I even got my CDL. I want to improve but now that I’ve passed my CDL at my company, I have no chance to. So what do you do if you have an education in trucking but need an education in trucking. I’m fine moving forward but, shucks. I heard of a girl at my company whose teammate quit. She drove to the shipper but could not dock. They had to call every driver within 500 miles to help. They tried to call me and “shucks. Good luck. You’ld be better off with Oprah.” I refuse to be that girl. I don’t blame her or judge her but I still hardcore refuse.
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  3. Lennythedriver

    Lennythedriver Medium Load Member

    Feb 14, 2020
    Backing becomes second nature to you over time. The driving the trailer in reverse will eventually become as natural as almost driving forward, but it takes time. Once your brain is turning the wheel seemingly automatic, from there is just all about positioning that trailer.

    my suggestion is this. Find an open lot, go out and back into spaces over and over. Get a feel for turning the wheel in relation to what direction the trailer goes. You need that down first. Remember, nobody was born just knowing how to back in a 53 ft trailer. Everyone had to learn. For some it takes longer than others. Most of all remember this! Don’t hit anything, GET OUT AND LOOK, if you’re not 1000% sure what’s around you! Most companies won’t fire you until you smash something up.

    practice straight line backing, getting a feel for turning the wheel in relation to which way the trailer goes as well.
  4. sirhwy

    sirhwy Light Load Member

    Sep 1, 2011
    Central Iowa
    Someone needs to take you under their wing (so to speak) and teach you how to back up. I’m betting if you went to a truck stop during the day, and practiced, someone would help you.
  5. LondRanger

    LondRanger Road Train Member

    Jun 3, 2018
    Couple of great YouTube videos explaining backing in a combination vehicle.

    trust me no one got it down on the first week. Takes time and practice.


    Get Out And Look.

    Don’t trust the Master Sign Linguist that throws out hand signs he can’t even translate.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2020
  6. lovesthedrive

    lovesthedrive Is here to help

    Nov 11, 2008
    Sorrento Maine
    Pick an object in the distance beyond the trailer. Now keep the object from disappearing behind the trailer when backing. Remember, when using your mirrors. Turn the steering wheel the direction the trailer is moving. If the trailer isnt straight behind you, it will be very difficult for a new driver to correct that trailer. Should the trailer no longer be straight behind you, just pull forward until it is. Dont go by the white lines on the ground. They arent always paralell to each other.

    Also this is why many people learn to drive with a mega carrier.
  7. meechyaboy

    meechyaboy Medium Load Member

    Oct 4, 2018
    May sound crazy but trust me it works by giving you perspective. Go to your local Walmart and grab one of the tractor trailer toys and try to execute backing maneuvers in between books. I believe 95 percent of backing is the setup and knowing what you need to do from liking at it.the rest is fixing the screwups The toys allow you to set up different situations, see how the trailer reacts from a over head view, and get tons time to think it through
  8. MBAngel

    MBAngel Medium Load Member

    Apr 1, 2018
    Tucson, Arizona
    I am an older very blonde female. I had trouble telling my right from my left even before I had to "turn left to go right". Here are some tips that helped me figure it out.
    Practice with a toy truck. They have some for sale in every truck stop. you have to push it around, but it helps it start to click in a little.
    Tape a post it to your visor. Left turns right, right turns left, with arrows. Then look at your visor to remind yourself a bit.
    Yes, get out and look. 50 times if needed. Have no shame with pull ups.
    I would tell the dock workers to go get a cup of coffee. I'd tell them some joke about "I got 20 pulls ups in this betting pool". Get them and yourself to laugh and you'll relax a bit and do better.
    Practice in truck stop parking lots, yes. Very good idea. No pressure. An hour or two can be a huge help, and doesn't really screw up your 70 clock much.
    You can do it too slow a million times, but too fast just once. Take your time.
    If you dont hit anything but the dock, it's a successful back. No matter how many times you pull up, or how long it takes you.
    Funny story. I had to deliver at this tiny 4 dock biz. It took me 30 pull ups to get this thing centered. I had it in straight at one point, but it was an inch to the left and they couldn't drop the plate. It took me 10 pulls after that to get it right. The dock guys were laughing with me. I got done and went to a truck stop (another funny story, but it took an hour to get 5 miles). I finally get parked at the truck stop, and my next trip? You guessed it. Right back to the same place. I got it parked in 3 pulls. But, I didnt hit anything, and we were all laughing when I was done.
    It eventually starts to kick in. Just try some practice, and dont worry about looking foolish. If anyone gives you a rash for it, remember that they too had to learn. Safety is number one, that's how you keep your license and you job and your life.
  9. Brandt

    Brandt Road Train Member

    Sep 17, 2012
    When backing your goal is to control the trailer and not so much the tractor. Doing a Straight Line backing is probably the first one to learn. That's how I was trained and Straight Line backing is a really good example of thing work.

    You can't backup a truck and trailer straight in a line. So it actually a little play on words. You can back the trailer in a straight line but not the tractor and trailer. To back the trailer straight the tractor has to fishtail left and right. Here is the trick nobody probably told you. You have to keep the tractor going left and right none stop to make the trailer go straight. So you pick two spot like 9am and 3pm on a clock on your steering wheel. When backing you do not even think about it but just keep moving you hand on the steering wheel from 9am to 3pm. The trick is don't stop turn the wheel from 9am to 3pm. If you stop turning the steering wheel you will mess up. So the trailer with go straight but your tractor will be going left and right non stop
  10. gentleroger

    gentleroger Road Train Member

    Jun 1, 2010
    You're teaming, so expect some pushback from your partner but there is only one solution - back up 7 times a day.

    That means building it into your trip plan. First by adding extra time, second by chossing truckstops along the way that have soace out of the way for you to practice. Every 100 miles, stop, back into a spot (or two), then go again.
  11. Wasted Thyme

    Wasted Thyme Road Train Member

    Jan 27, 2020
    Stevens transport DFW TX
    I don't have my CDL yet. But have backed a boat trailer many times. What helped me to remember I was steering the trailer. Was grabbing the bottom of the steering wheel vs the top. Then if my hand went left or right. I knew the trailer would do the same.

    Some don't like this approach. But for me it works.
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