Originally Posted by PharmGeek
Ok, so I have 1.5 weeks until pickup of my 30' AS.
I am in the process of creating a number of checklists (kinda like my ol' dad uses when flying) to keep me and the wife straight.
I am a cautious driver...in my 14 years of driving I have not had a single accident - avoided many - lived in philly, northern VA, southwestern VA, and Birmingham, AL.
My real "anxiety" (I put it in quotes as it is not that dramatic or pronounced, rather I suppose just some healthy anxiety on the subject) lies in manuevering the AS when needing to stop somewhere unknown...say gas stations, parking lots.
Of course pulling a 30 footer I will be in no way as thoughtless as that (I hope) - but my anxiety lies in this basic concept...getting a feel about where I should and should not pull into...thinking about things like inclines that I would bottom out...or looking at the place and knowin that getting in and out would be too questionable...
I think my purpose of this thread is a bit vague
as I continue to ramble on....but largely I suppose it has to do with the fact that I am so new to towing such a larger object...
I have recieved tons of great advice on this site already on this subject and feel more confident and will be appropriately cautious...its not that I am the type once on the highway to have "white knuckles" .....that is not for some reason as much what I am worried about...its the thoughts of tighter spaces that worry me...
Any useful advice appreciated....
I am really excited about pickin up soon...my excitement and confidence greatly outweight my anxieties luckily but I figure asking for some more pointers on this front could prove helpful both substantively and reducing any bits of unhealthy anxiety.
You're looking for a framework of how to make comparisons, of how to judge the results, is how I read this. How to think about it.
It is stressful, granted. Alleviation of stress
is by breaking out a day of travel into shorter segments of time & distance.
is not so much X-miles over Y-hours as it is a series of legs to be completed.
One is piloting the combined vehicle -- not just "holding the steering wheel" (a deadly trucker insult) -- via locations already mapped.
Controlling the stops (knowing them all in advance) is the key to reduced stress travel. And the determinant of where to stop is the human body. Time
, not miles, therefore. Make the executive decisions in advance of departure.
The dummies in my business just get in the truck and start driving . . and are likelier to be less alert and prone to mishap as a result. Switching from monkey brain (body sense) back and forth to abstract brain (so to speak) is where problems arise). This is where the men-boy separation occurs.
Two-hours to each break, for bladder relief and to walk off inicipient stiffness. A fifteen minute stop. Might not be so important early on, but the latter part of the day, it is. At the four-hour mark one needs an hour out of the vehicle and this is the time to fill up on fuel and/or have a meal. For me this is fuel at a truck stop (I recommend Flying J and Petro brands as they are car-friendly [read, wife and kid friendly]) and followed by lunch at a rest area a short distance farther ahead. Kids and ladies will need another break about an hour after a meal.
300-miles or 3 o'clock
: At an average
travel speed of 45-mph (all time miles from one point to another) one can cover 300-miles in 5-hours of drive time. A 6.5' trip, approx.
Each leg has a known number of acceleration and deceleration events, for the most part. Each leg has a known number of backing/parking maneuvers (even if zero) and may require GOAL (get out and look) prior to and during backing. Each leg requires a walk-around of the rig prior to departure; with only the initial one requring tightening of lug nuts and tire pressure.
Use a framework like the above to chart experience. Once a leg is completed, successfully or needs some changes, it is off to the next. The actual mechanics of driving is fairly easy (with the possible exception of RH turns, at first, as one may need to be in the second lane from the curb, etc). Take time to learn to back (you already know), but take the pressure off yourself, first.
Use a sat-view of each planned stop (need not, say, an Interstate rest area), to look at the layout of the to place to be stopped. I'd prefer fuel stops to be on the same side of the road and past any intersection
for easiest re-entrance to t a highway (reduction of turns, stops, and starts). I want to know the "truck entrance" to a fuel stop, and where the exit is located
as well. Finer detail is how chewed up is the road surface by stopping/starting/turning big trucks; where the newer truck stop nearby might be preferred over a favorite brand, etc.
Sounds tedious, but isn't. I can plan out a trip pretty fast (for work) based on these parameters as the truckers road atlas and some fuel retailer locations guides make it fast work (based on avg. fuel consumption, average travel speed and the need to stop at the end of every second hour). Internet access makes detail easier to accummulate. A multi-day plan may take me several hours, but that is because I also like to do this sort of planning and take pleasure in exploring alternatives in roads, stops, etc.
A framework, from which to delve into detail. Check off each leg, and don't let stress buld over a whole day . . each leg completed, start to stop, is the measure.
Plan all driving for daytime hours, and, if a longer day is needed add one leg
as four hundred miles is plenty with family (or otherwise). One might start at civil twilight prior to dawn, but never drive into
the dark. Make rules that work. Keep notes from observations and family feedback.
Keep the details separated from the bigger picture by breaking it out into legs travelled (as details of stopping/starting, etc, are part of that leg only
The details of driving are separate (such as, being slowed to 55-mph before entering the Interstate exit, which means signalling about a half-mile back [concurrent with exit sign placement]), and most of them are easy when one learns to establish new habits. Braking
is what matters. If I have to slam on the brakes a few times per year
due to traffic, I'm not doing badly (as one measure; I covered a little over 80k the past year). Nailing the brakes several times the course of a trip is flat bad driving . . one must
be willing to change. And the change is in confronting emotions in re driving practice. Be ready to confront your teenage self, in this.
So, one learns caution, and the test of caution
is in followng distances. Etc. (Search posts by Protagonist
on this subject and other traffic safety training as what he has posted in re this is quite good; contractor job requirement for him). FWIW I don't drive any differently solo than when towing. Or running a loaded 18-wheeler, town or country. Once one pays attention to behaviors (markers), one can more readily judge experience AND new situations.
There are markers for all of it -- to contextualize unsettling vagueness -- and your experience can be analyzed and improved to the point where ease enters in (not false confidence). We're scared of the big stuff and this leaks down into small things where it is a hindrance. That will pass, if one decides to be a tool-using mammal.