How to drive a tractor‐trailer

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How to drive a tractor‐trailer

A tractor-trailer is the term given to a combination of a trailer and an on-road tractor, or truck. A tractor-trailer is comprised of two entirely separate units so that the truck can be hooked to other trailers and the trailer can be hooked to other trucks. They are connected both with hardware and electronically so that the truck can control the brakes and all the lights on the trailer.

The Tractor-Trailer is used for transporting goods and materials from one place to the other. It is how groceries find their way to the shelves of the grocery store, for one example.

The truck portion of a tractor-trailer must have enough engine power to pull a significant amount of weight. The weight of the trailer can vary greatly depending on what type of freight it contains. A trailer loaded with empty plastic bottles, for example, will weigh much less than a trailer full of bottled water.

Sometimes the passenger cab of the truck includes a compartment large enough for a bed. This is so the driver of the tractor-trailer can sleep in the truck when delivering freight over long distances. It is common for a driver to own his truck and contract out to companies to transport freight in the company trailers. One driver may haul freight for a number of different companies over a wide geographic area and spend weeks at a time living in his truck.

The trailer portion of the tractor-trailer combination can be one of a variety of designs to serve a variety of different purposes. Probably the most common style is the box trailer. It can vary in length from about 28 feet to 53 feet (8.5 to 16.2 meters) and is totally closed except for the door at rear end and sometimes on the sides.

Another style of trailer is known as a flat bed, which is basically a platform on which freight is strapped. A tractor-trailer with a flatbed is often used to transport lumber, bricks or other construction materials. A third common type of trailer is a tanker, which carries liquids such as water or milk or dry goods such as flour or grain.

Other terms used to describe a tractor-trailer are “eighteen wheeler” and semi-trailer truck.” The term “eighteen wheeler” is sometimes used because there is often a total of eighteen wheels in the combination. The term “semi-trailer truck” refers to a trailer in which one end is supported by the truck that it is connected to. The other end of the trailer has its own set of wheels.

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Discussion Comments

Yes, most of them do have eighteen wheels. Some of the smaller ones have less. Count them when you are a passenger! StarJo July 27, 2012

I hate getting behind those flatbed tractor-trailers that are hauling logs. They are open in the back and on the sides, and even though the logs are strapped in, I’m always afraid that one will get loose and come flying toward my windshield.

If I see a log truck up ahead and I’m driving on a four-lane highway, I will get in the passing lane way before I reach him. I just feel safer off to the side than directly behind him.

Also, leaves and bits of bark chip off in the wind and fly out everywhere around the truck. Because the load is so heavy, they go really slow when they are driving uphill, too. kylee07drg July 27, 2012

A tractor-trailer cab without the trailer attached looks so funny to me. Something that was once so very long is suddenly really short, even though it is still very tall.

Somehow, tractor-trailers are a lot less intimidating once their trailers have been detached. They must be a whole lot more easy to maneuver, too. I imagine that it is a little bit of a shock for the driver when he first starts to drive again after unloading.

I don’t think that I could ever actually drive one of these. I have trouble parking my small sedan, so I know that I would get into jams with something as big as a tractor-trailer. seag47 July 27, 2012

@Kristee – I travel a lot, and I can tell you that a tractor-trailer wreck is one of the scariest kind. I have seen one flip before, and though I didn’t get hit by it, just watching it get all banged up with someone inside nauseated me.

Miraculously, the driver was okay. He told me that his truck had been flipped by the wind before during a severe thunderstorm that produced a funnel cloud, and he survived that with no major injuries, too.

I have heard of small cars being involved in tractor-trailer wrecks and actually getting lodged up under the trucks. I seem to remember one person getting decapitated in this way. Kristee July 26, 2012

I’ve always called tractor-trailers “eighteen-wheelers.” I don’t think I have ever actually counted the wheels for myself, but since that is what my parents always called them, I took their word for it.

As a child, I was terrified by eighteen-wheelers. I think when you are very small, big things seem even bigger and scarier.

Now, the only time that I am frightened by eighteen-wheelers is when they are veering into my lane a little. I get quite a rush when this happens, and I generally swerve before I can even think.

How to drive a tractor‐trailer

Tractor-trailers, commonly known as semi-trucks, are not passenger vehicles. They are designed for the purpose of transporting goods over long distances efficiently. Due to their size and limited maneuverability, tractor-trailers can cause devastating damage in a collision.

Accidents involving semi-trucks killed more than 3,750 people on U.S. roads in 2011, and injured many more. Keep the following tips in mind when driving near large trucks to minimize the danger to you and those in your vehicle.

1. Give a truck extra space.

Keep ample distance when driving in front of or behind a large truck, and choose another lane if a semi truck is driving too closely behind you. Tractor-trailers need substantially more space than a car does to come to a complete stop in an emergency.

2. Stay out of a truck’s blind spot.

Tractor-trailers have larger blind spots than other vehicles. Follow this general rule: If you cannot see the truck’s mirrors, the driver can’t see your vehicle. Keep yourself visible.

3. Pass a tractor-trailer with care.

Never cross the double yellow line. If you must pass a tractor-trailer, always do so on the left, and don’t cut the truck off by re-entering the lane closely in front of it.

4. Keep size in mind.

A semi truck sharing the highway with you can weigh as much as 16 times more than the car you are driving. It may also be carrying dangerous chemicals that could turn a simple accident into a disaster. Also be sure to stay in your own lane; large trucks are wide and need the full width of their lane to drive.

5. Use common sense.

Whether driving a car, an SUV, or a semi truck, we all are supposed to follow the same rules. However, that doesn’t mean everyone actually will. Check your mirrors regularly, and be alert at all times. Always avoid cell phones and other distractions.

About Author:

The Truck Accident Attorneys at Atlanta-based Fried Rogers Goldberg LLC are nationally recognized for their work in the field of trucking law. They have more than 50 combined years of experience representing those injured by a truck driver or trucking company’s negligence, and they lecture and advise other attorneys on the topic.

How to drive a tractor‐trailer

Majority of the goods in most countries are transported using tractor-trailers or trucks; therefore, finding a job for someone who knows how to drive a tractor-trailer is not very difficult. In the United States, an average driver earns approximately $50,000 a year. However, driving a tractor trailer is not the easiest of jobs and requires a lot of practice, patience and responsibility.

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Instructions

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Pre-trip inspection

It is important for the driver to inspect each and every part of the tractor-trailer before each trip. There are certain requirements in each country about pre-trip inspection; however, they are more or less the same.

Make sure that the lights, blinkers, tires, viper blades and other parts are working properly. This will save you from a lot of hassle in the journey. Some tractor-trailer drivers forget to check spare tires, although it is extremely important to have them in working condition.

Switch on the tractor-trailer

Put on the seat belt alongside engaging the clutch with your left foot. Now you need to press the brake pedal and hold it while you release the tractor, slowly lifting your foot off the pedal. Place the shifter in the first gear while lifting the clutch pedal. The engine will slowly begin to pull the trailer without you having to depress the fuel pedal.

Double clutching

Observe your tachometer by depressing the fuel pedal. Press the clutch pedal to the floor as the speed and RPM increases. You need to hold the shifter and neutralise it while releasing the pedal. Now depress the clutch pedal and shift to the next gear.The driver may continue to accelerate after releasing the clutch pedal.

This is the proper way of changing gears of a tractor-trailer and is known as ‘double clutching’. You may also change gears by floating the clutch; however, this method is not recommended. A driver must double clutch if he wants to pass the exam.

Hold the steering with two hands

Once the tractor-trailer has reached the speed you desire, place both your hands on the steering and be focussed on driving. You should remain alert and keep your eyes on the road.

How to drive a tractor‐trailer

The ability to haul a trailer is a driving skill that is extremely useful in a variety of situations. The ability to safely drive with a trailer comes in handy when moving, purchasing new furniture, transporting lawnmowers or ATVs, or hauling a boat or RV. Knowing how to successfully attach a trailer to your vehicle’s hitch is only one step in the process of driving with a trailer. There are several other things that you need to consider before hitting the road in tandem.

9 Tips for Driving with a Trailer

Consult your owner’s manual for information about how much weight your vehicle can successfully haul. Some regular sized sedans are able to haul up to two thousand pounds, surprising news to many car owners. Large trucks and SUVs can tow considerably more weight; however, you want to make sure not to overload your vehicle. This can cause it to be difficult to handle and more likely to be involved in a wreck. This short video will help you understand the importance of loading your trailer correctly:

Do not underestimate the difficulty of driving with a trailer. You should practice pulling in and out of your driveway and navigating quiet back roads before attempting to drive in heavy traffic while pulling a trailer.

The size of the trailer is directly related to the number of adjustments you need to make as a driver. A small utility trailer might be hardly noticeable. Pulling a boat or large RV will require all of your attention and driving skills.

Make sure that the trailer is properly attached before hitting the road. Check the safety chains, lights, and license plate. You can check how to attach a trailer here:

Keep a greater distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you when hauling a trailer. The extra weight behind your car or truck will make it more difficult to slow down or stop.

Take wider turns. Because your vehicle is now close to double its regular length, you will have to take turns significantly wider to avoid hitting curbs, other cars, or running off of the road.

Driving in reverse while pulling a trailer is a skill that takes quite a bit of practice to acquire. Turn too sharp and the trailer will jackknife, or turn sharply in one direction. Expect to make several adjustments the first couple of times you attempt to drive in reverse while towing a trailer. The following video will help you figure out how to fulfil this maneuver:

Take it slow. It is often best to drive in the right lane while pulling a trailer, especially on the interstate. Acceleration will take significantly longer with a trailer. Drive a little below the speed limit for safety.

Parking may be difficult. Small parking lots may be almost impossible to use when pulling a large trailer. If you do maneuver your vehicle and trailer into a parking space, or several parking spaces, make sure that you have plenty of room to exit the lot. It is often advisable to park in a remote part of a parking lot with few surrounding vehicles.

Being able to drive with a trailer will allow you to transport a variety of items or other vehicles. If you are an avid outdoors person who enjoys boating or camping, driving with a trailer is almost a necessary skill. Remember to allow yourself plenty of time to practice driving with a trailer to build your skill and boost your confidence.

How to drive a tractor‐trailer

The ability to haul a trailer is a driving skill that is extremely useful in a variety of situations. The ability to safely drive with a trailer comes in handy when moving, purchasing new furniture, transporting lawnmowers or ATVs, or hauling a boat or RV. Knowing how to successfully attach a trailer to your vehicle’s hitch is only one step in the process of driving with a trailer. There are several other things that you need to consider before hitting the road in tandem.

9 Tips for Driving with a Trailer

Consult your owner’s manual for information about how much weight your vehicle can successfully haul. Some regular sized sedans are able to haul up to two thousand pounds, surprising news to many car owners. Large trucks and SUVs can tow considerably more weight; however, you want to make sure not to overload your vehicle. This can cause it to be difficult to handle and more likely to be involved in a wreck. This short video will help you understand the importance of loading your trailer correctly:

Do not underestimate the difficulty of driving with a trailer. You should practice pulling in and out of your driveway and navigating quiet back roads before attempting to drive in heavy traffic while pulling a trailer.

The size of the trailer is directly related to the number of adjustments you need to make as a driver. A small utility trailer might be hardly noticeable. Pulling a boat or large RV will require all of your attention and driving skills.

Make sure that the trailer is properly attached before hitting the road. Check the safety chains, lights, and license plate. You can check how to attach a trailer here:

Keep a greater distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you when hauling a trailer. The extra weight behind your car or truck will make it more difficult to slow down or stop.

Take wider turns. Because your vehicle is now close to double its regular length, you will have to take turns significantly wider to avoid hitting curbs, other cars, or running off of the road.

Driving in reverse while pulling a trailer is a skill that takes quite a bit of practice to acquire. Turn too sharp and the trailer will jackknife, or turn sharply in one direction. Expect to make several adjustments the first couple of times you attempt to drive in reverse while towing a trailer. The following video will help you figure out how to fulfil this maneuver:

Take it slow. It is often best to drive in the right lane while pulling a trailer, especially on the interstate. Acceleration will take significantly longer with a trailer. Drive a little below the speed limit for safety.

Parking may be difficult. Small parking lots may be almost impossible to use when pulling a large trailer. If you do maneuver your vehicle and trailer into a parking space, or several parking spaces, make sure that you have plenty of room to exit the lot. It is often advisable to park in a remote part of a parking lot with few surrounding vehicles.

Being able to drive with a trailer will allow you to transport a variety of items or other vehicles. If you are an avid outdoors person who enjoys boating or camping, driving with a trailer is almost a necessary skill. Remember to allow yourself plenty of time to practice driving with a trailer to build your skill and boost your confidence.