Apr 072014



 For most of my 15-year trucking career I chose to haul standard size trailers with an overall length of 72-feet. That, I’m sure, seems like a very big vehicle. However, I’ve always been fascinated by the dynamics of managing these oversized loads though not in the least inclined to become one of these drivers.

You want me to back this trailer into that driveway? Right.

You want me to back this trailer into that driveway? Right.

Nonetheless, there was a short one-month period I decided to haul trusses, the support beams you see in many of the largest warehouses. These flatbed trailers average 53-foot and could be stretched out to 90-feet to accommodate the largest trusses. The longest trailer I drove was a measly 65-foot one and that had me a little tense maneuvering around some of the corners. Not the least of these was this delivery into Oregon. The picture on the left

I did it. I'm very proud of myself

I did it. I’m very proud of myself


We’re on a residential two-lane street and I was driving one of the two 65-foot trailers required for this delivery. Now what? Well the other driver said our only solution was to pull into the church parking lot across from the driveway we had to back into, so we did. The unknown variable here was would the parking lot support the weight of our trucks? Thankfully, it did.


Easy delivery and unload

Easy delivery and unload



The next couple of pictures show more “normal” deliveries which were not without some tense moments.




My turn, don't hit those poles please.

My turn, don’t hit those poles please.

Note the picture showing the trailer coming uncomfortably close to the metal poles that hold the walls in place. Being good at backing, and I finally was, is key, to keeping this kind of a job. Knocking the big slab of cement wall down, held in place by a few poles, would not be a good thing.

The other negative was having to climb all over the trusses to place my tie-downs for each load. I bruise easily and by the time I’d been on the job a week, I looked like an ad for domestic violence with my innumerable scratches and bruises.


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Jun 202013

Put it here. Yeah right! I mention in my first book, Silly Woman, Big Rigs Are For Men, that one of my biggest

It doesn't look that difficult at first glance. But I soon found out different.

It doesn’t look that difficult at first glance. But I soon found out different.

hurdles was to learn how to back up a tractor-trailer and it most definitely was an issue. Because this was such a problem for me, I took the time over the years to document some of the “docks” I delivered to and I’ll add more blogs detailing those difficulties

This dock didn’t look that difficult at first glance. But I soon found out different.  It turned out to be one of the most difficult docks I backed into in all the years I drove. The entry driveway doesn’t look like it’s going to be an issue, but when I try to set up my truck so I am able to back around the corner close enough to get into the dock as well as keep from hitting the trash dumpsters and the parked cars, that proves dicey to say the least. The person responsible for designing the dock must have thought truckers had rubber trailers that bend in the middle, sadly we don’t.

As a truck driver, you quickly learn your dispatcher, who may never have driven anything larger than their personal vehicle, has no clue what the dock is like at any pick-up or delivery point.

note the dumpsters and cars that compromise my maneuvering room

note the dumpsters and cars that compromise my maneuvering room

The best the dispatcher can tell a driver is, “Well our drivers have delivered here before and nobody said anything about a problem backing in.” Perhaps in today’s world dispatchers are a little more truthful than they were when I was out there driving, but I seriously doubt it. After all, their job is making sure the product gets from point A to point B. Accidents, weather, construction hold-ups, breakdowns or docks from Hell or other issues the driver faces aren’t their problem.

The next picture shows the damage done to the building by other drivers due to the limited space for maneuvering a 72′ vehicle. Ergonomics, the study of the most efficient way to design a work space, isn’t considered when docks are installed. I’ve always thought too many docks were a afterthought when buildings are designed and so they are tacked on in the most unlikely of places by engineers (theoretic’s, you know theoretically this will work) who have never driven an 18-wheeler. I can hear them saying, “Oops, you need a dock? How long did you say the truck was? Seventy-two feet, no problem I’ll add an extra eight feet for the drivers to back in right over here, that should be enough space.”


Damage to the building by other drivers. A result of the limited maneuvering space

These marks are from trucks that cut the corner too short backing in.


Six inches of clearance here. Very careful backing

Six inches of clearance here. Very careful backing

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