Trucker Hacks Your Trainer Forgot To Tell You

When I think back to when I first started as a truck driver in January of 2000.   I can recall countless times of asking questions for help.  Some responses I received helped, while many didn’t.

Over the years of trucking, I have compiled a lot of different tips and tricks.  I was thinking to myself, how can I help a brand new truck driver, here’s my conclusion.

Here you will find a list of OVER 30 amazing hacks that every brand new truck driver needs to know today.

These will save you

  • time
  • energy
  • stress levels
  • aggravation
  • overall outlook
  • money

If you follow these amazing hacks and implement them, I know you will more than just enjoy being a truck driver.  You will love it, you will endorse being a truck driver, and you will maintain a positive outlook through your experience the majority of the time.  Read below so you can get started implementing these amazing hacks today.

 

A Letter To Truck Driver Trainers;

Hi, my name is Michael and I certainly can not do everything, and because of this, I need your help.  First, I wanted to thank you in advance for being able to do something I am incapable of doing.  Training new truck drivers.  I am not a good passenger.  Being a passenger of anything with wheels on a roadway freaks me out.

Instead of me asking you for help.  How about we help each other instead?  Sounds like a good plan to me.  Let’s help each other by sharing the information within this article to new truck driver recruits. 

Now I do not mean share it like on social media.  No, that’s up to you.  What I mean is, go over these hacks verbally with your trainee, communicate with them about the hacks that many trainers from time to time forget to share with they’re truck driving trainee. 

If anything, maybe some of these could be a good reference to use.  To help provide additional information to green horned truckers.  This way, if anything is accidentally forgotten to talk about, well its refreshed right here.

Have your trainee read them on that first day when they are bored from sightseeing through the window from a semi-truck.  Let’s help provide every truck driver with as much helpful content that has a basis of safety, and follows through with keeping our roadways disaster free. 

Modify these hacks in this list if need be as you see fit to better help communicate with your new trucker trainee to gain a better understanding. 

I know in the busy world of focusing on safety, at times, we forget about the things that could make life on the road for a new trucker much easier.  We do the best that we can while rolling 80,000 lbs of rolling thunder across our roadways.  Together, we can help make our roads safe.

Thanks again, 

                                                                                           Sincerely,

                                                                                                            Michael

 

1. New Truck Driver Don’t Start The Winter Alone!

Dangerous Weather Conditions for veteran truck drivers at times can be difficult to grasp a concept on.  For new truck drivers, it becomes even more nerve-racking.  Out of all the different seasons throughout most of the USA, winter is by far the most concerned by most truckers year after year.

Between the cold temperatures, the wind and snow covered roads in combinations with one another.  Winter driving for truck drivers can at times be scarier than the scariest of fright nights on any Halloween.

Jackknifes, being stuck in a parking lot that received more snow than you’ve ever seen in your entire life.  Waking up and starting your day only to find out you left the truck stop to be parked on the highway because the highway is closed due to multiple accidents and bad road conditions.

Bad road conditions not only closed the highway, but now you find out your being routed around like cattle on a field trip back to the truck stop you just left, and it will take you 3 hours to get back.

Winter can be tough.  So let’s make winter easier.

1a.  When you begin learning how to be a truck driver.  Try to arrange your time with a trucking trainer in a manner, so that you are driving in the winter with a trainer.  By scheduling yourself in this manner, this should place you with a trainer for the majority of your first winter season.  

The reasons for this is simple.  This will allow you to learn from your truck driver trainer who should have winter driving experience.  It provides you not only with a reference, but a referee of sorts to help correct any signs of a bad habit immediately.

This will also help provide you the new truck driver, with just enough confidence to focus on being safe, maintaining control of the semi truck and trailer and give you a great referencing point for when the next winter comes.

1b.  Learn to say NO.  When you allow yourself to be forced to drive on unsafe roads or in unsafe weather conditions.  You ultimately are allowing yourself to become responsible for not only what you may or not do. 

Though also for what others may or not do to the equipment you are responsible for.  If you lose control of the commercial motor vehicle (CMV, aka Semi Truck and Trailer), or if someone else loses control of their vehicle, and comes to a stop by colliding with your company assigned semi truck.

You could be responsible for any damages and any citations.  Even if not your fault, they call this “incident management.” Thus meaning, maybe you made a bad decision to drive that day.

Maybe the safety department expected you to say NO to your dispatcher for example, because of the bad road and weather conditions.  See how this can be a double-edged sword.

Many times I can recall talks with a dispatcher about how safe the dispatcher thought me driving a semi truck that day would be versus how unsafe I knew it was actually.

With some of these conversations, the simple, “No, I can’t make it today, the roads are bad, I’m going to need to reschedule delivery.”  Were enough.

However, there will be times, depending on who or which trucking company you may driver for.  Where someone from the office is going to try and push you to go.  This is when it is important to say NO.

This NO could be the difference between you seeing your family on your next time off or the last time you have seen them, being the last time they’d ever see you again.  Your life is always worth more than any semi truck moving a micromilimeterr of an inch from a parking spot when road conditions are proving how bad it is, by multiple accidents within miles of each other.

When road closures are occurring because the amount of snowfall that is freezing to the roadway, cannot be caught up with by the snow removal plows.  Use some common sense, stay put, let the office personnel get angry, in a few days everyone will be back to normal.

Now, keep in mind if you signed up to a trucking company, that handed you a piece of paper to sign that says something like “I understand this is forced dispatch and we utilize the tool of chaining tires during severe weather conditions.”  This NO could cost you your job.

So if winter dangers are not your cup of tea, do not sign this paper, and most likely you won’t be hired so no worries.

1c.  Road Closures happen for all kinds of different reasons.  If you would have had a CB Radio, and if you would have turned it on before leaving the truck stop parking lot.  If you would have asked about the road conditions and if there were any delays.

Maybe you would have had to ask a couple of extra times or so.  Though, eventually, you would have found out, stay parked for the next while in a very short summed up kind of way.  Before venturing out, only to find that 38 miles down the road, there’s a white out, or snow squall, or something that is more fun pronouncing than dealing with.

These are both similar to a blizzard I guess I could say.  Yet just different degree’s of a blizzard in a way would probably be the best way to explain it.  Overall, visibility is at times non-existent with the previously mentioned.

1d. Snowfall and ice are not the only dangers of weather.  Be aware of wind, hail, fog and even a heavy downpour of rain can really start to mess things up.

Wind is capable of pushing any semi truck and trailer with a load, across the lanes of any roadway.  Not only is wind capable of pushing vehicles across lanes.  It is also capable of lifting a semi truck and trailer and causing it to roll over.

Hail can become the size of golf balls and impale through your window and do a bit more than just bounce off your head.  It’s like being hit with a somewhat fast-paced rock of a similar size.

Fog at times will just cause a blanket of blindness to the point that you are unable to see more than 1 foot beyond your window.  Your hood on your semi truck disappears, your lights just make everything worse at times, and it feels insane.

Heavy rain downpour can just as easily blind your abilities to see everything you need to see.  There will be times your windshield wipers are not capable of going the speed you would like them to.

In a lot of instances, things that could be a medium/slow somewhat steady rain for example.  A simple slowing down without brake checking and maintaining speed is a good safe practice.  Other things, depending on where you are, Arizona Dust Storms, for example, you may need to pull off the roadway altogether for a moment or few.

 

2. Easy Hacks To Get Unstuck In Snow Or Mud

With bad cold weather or heavy rainfall comes the undoubtedly foreseen possibilities of becoming stuck in one way or another.  There are ways to “try” and counter these before the possibilities that could set in become a reality.

Truck driving with the cold weather is a common ground we have to deal with every season.  There are a few scenarios.  Your airlines freeze up, your fuel tanks gel over, your tires create a crater of ice that engulfs under and around your tires.

With heavy rainfall, there’s still the possibility of roads being slippery, if you ever park on a dirt lot you will quickly realize how easy it can be to become stuck.  Your tires could spin on it just like if you were on the ice.  Especially if you park on wet clay for example.

If you pull off onto a shoulder, you will find out how quickly the dirt area off of a shoulder can magically make your steer tire sink into the mud and pull your entire semi truck and trailer from the shoulder.  Sound’s silly and unreal, but it does happen.

2a. When parking in the dirt after it rains, or mud do yourself a few favors.  Get out of the truck after parking on the pavement, physically go to the area your going to park on.  Inspect it for the softness of ground, how much clay is in the ground (if it sticks to your boot like pudding dookie).

By making an observation at ground level.  You can then decide before making a bad decision if parking is going to cause you any an additional headache.  When tires sink into the mud, the ground will vacuum seal around the tire to the ground.

In a way, it is very similar to how ice forms around tires from the snow melting due to the tires being warm or hot.  When you attempt to break this ground seal, it almost feels like its locked your axle in a way to the ground.  Which could burn up any seals in your rear end. So do a little stomping around your tires to help break up ice or dig out some of the mud to help make this process easier for you.

Keep in mind, the more your tires spin, the more stuck you will become.  The heavier you are, the quicker you will sink.  These may sound like common sense to many.  Though if you are unfamiliar with trucking.  It’s likely some of this is unknown.

2b. The same holds true for ice and snow covered roads and parking areas.  With the addition that when traveling or parking on snow or ice, it can cause the ground underneath it to become soft and muddy fairly quickly.

Anytime you become stuck while parking.  Either on the mud or on snow or ice covered parking lot.  There are a couple of things that you could try to do that may or not work.  If these things work, they could save you money, and a whole lot of time.

Since doing something is better than doing nothing and waiting on a big rig tow truck driver that may be booked up.  Some of these things, a tow truck driver may even ask if you’ve attempted to do.

              2ba.  The night prior to going to bed, do not engage your trailer brakes.  Keep your engine running or your APU on.  This will help your trailer brakes from freezing up and will help your fuel from sludging up / gelling over.

After about 15 minutes or so have passed, gently move your entire semi truck and trailer, forward about 5′ to 7′, wait for another 5 minutes or so.  Then back 3′ – 5′.  Do not park in the exact same spot you originally pulled forward from.

This gives your tires enough time to cool down.  So that you do not form as much ice under your tires for when you want to leave next.  Now if you wake up the next day, do all your waking up things and then become ready to truck drive down the highway.  But, you find yourself stuck.

              2bb.  First, lock in your differential on your drive axles.  This will provide traction to all four corners (all 8 tires) on your drives, rather than counting on one set of tires from each side on an opposing corner axle.

Next, if you are in an automatic transmission, assuming you have 12 gears, hold it in 5th to 7th depending on how much weight you have in the trailer, the less weight, the higher the gear on the range and vise versa as I just mentioned for heavier loads.

When you proceed forward, do not gun it like you are in a race.  Let it work itself, feather the gas pedal instead of stomping on it.  If you only get forward so far and then come to a spin cycle.

If you know you could back up further than where you were just parked and stuck.  Put in high reverse and back through where you were parked by at least 10′.

If you do not have 10′ of clearance behind you, you will have to rock back and forth till out. If this does not work.  Skipped down to where I mention Tire Chains.

If you are in a manual transmission.  No matter what gear pattern you have, all the way up to an 18 speed.  I have always been able to get unstuck by utilizing either 4th gear (10 speed and less) or 7th gear anything, not a 10-speed type or lower number of gears.

Again, feathering the clutch and accelerator.  Like above, if you try to back through or are unable to or if still remain stuck.  Here’s the next trick.

              2bc.  Saw dust/sand, usually hard to find, Kitty Litter, easy to find if you bring with prior to starting your trip from home, some type of snow melting product with either of the previous two or alone.

Spread all over the area that your drive tires continue to spin on.  If stuck in the mud, don’t use salt, use one of the other mentioned options.  These will help pull some of the water out of the dirt.  Also, provide some traction for you.

Once you have your ground covered.  Throw down your tire chains, chain up your drives.  Then repeat the above process of feathering your pedal(s).

This will work 75% of the time.  There was never a time this did not work for me.  However, I can recall a few times this did not work for a couple of my friends.  If these options do not work, a tow from anything able to pull you out is the only option.

              2bd.  Carry a doubled hook ended tow chain rated for a little bit more than your weight of semi truck in your side box at least 18′ long.  If or when you purchase this, ask about the stress breaking point of the chain links and end loop of the hooks.  Tell the seller representative your intentions so they can better help you.  You do not want an end of this flying at your window if it breaks.  It will take your head off.

Utilize this, ask another truck driver to help you out.  Hook it into either the 5th wheel locking bar for the kingpin, only if the chain does not touch the rear cross beam of the semi truck when has tension.

If the chain does touch, the chain will bend the holy Jesus out of that cross member (if being helped by a bobtail) or a rear locking tow hook (most trucks will not have this unless they pull doubles or house halves.)  Or possibly the ICC bar on the trailer.

The opposing end, hook to your front bumper area frame tow hook on the semi-truck.  Then follow the above suggestions with feathering of your pedal(s).  When done, buy that truck driver a coffee, a breakfast, a something to show more than just a thank you.

Since that truck driver just saved you a whole lot of time, and your company at least a few hundred bucks.  Here in this section alone, there are over 7 easy hacks that every truck driver should know.  Let’s get into the next one by looking below.

 

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About Michael : Semi Truck Driver

I have been a semi truck driver for approximately 20 years. Throughout this time I have been taught a lot of different things from a lot of different people through the years. I've also learned a lot of things from my own mistakes. With all of this in mind, allow me to share with you what I have been lucky enough to learn.

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