Preparation includes learning a few techniques for getting unstuck. If the load is light, try starting out in third or even fourth gear. “I’ve had trailers that I’ve hooked up to, and once I hook up to them my drives spin,” Long says. “I go to the highest gear I can get into, say fourth if I have a real light load, and try easing the clutch out.”
“That’s probably the easiest way to get a light load moving,” Golly says. “Place the transmission in third or fourth gear. That helps prevent wheel spin.”
Another common technique is rocking the truck gently back and forth. This might build enough momentum to get the truck rolling. But the key word is “gently”. Either stay off the throttle or use it lightly. If the drives spin, disengage the clutch and reverse directions. If it’s not working, give it up to avoid digging in deeper.
Don’t be afraid to ask other drivers for a tow. If you have a good, strong towing chain and the drives aren’t dug in too deep, it’s a simple thing for another big truck – especially one with a heavy load – to pull you free. Again the operative term is gently. Just ease forward at an idle, if possible. A chain suddenly snapped taught is likely to come apart.
These simple tools and techniques will work most of the time. But getting stuck in wintry weather is part of trucking, and sometimes you can’t get free.
“If this doesn’t work, the only other thing I’d suggest is probably to call a wrecker or somebody to come and help you,” Bass says.
Don’t get too upset about it. “You’ll just get yourself more exhausted, and the first thing you’re wanting to do when you get unstuck is get back in the truck and go down the road,” Bass says. “Then you’re a safety hazard.”
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to get one of these trucks on the road,” he says. “But you can’t be out there acting like a fool, either.”
And who says safety doesn’t pay? Ross recalls heading east on I-80 during a snowstorm toward California’s Donner Pass. Westbounders told him how bad it was atop the pass, and he shut down.
“I got off at the next exit and found a steak house with a great big lot,” he says. “I got on the CB and told the other drivers about it. They came in, and the manager gave me a steak for free.”