Rod Simon and Matt Lynch will host today’s Live on Facebook!  They will review our “Take Pride In Your Ride” – Clean Truck Program and they will draw for our 2020 $500 winner!  All Decker Drivers who received a Level 4 during their Appearance Inspections in 2020 are entered to win.  Take pride in our beautiful equipment and you too can earn special gifts all year and become eligible for our 2021 $500 drawing!


In the last six months, we have had 11 events in which trailers uncoupled from the tractors while in motion.  These weren’t just new Drivers making this “new guy” mistake.  All Drivers involved had more than a year of experience, and one Driver had over 25 years.  The total combined experience of these 11 Drivers was over 75 years, with an average of 7.7 years.  That represents a lot of trailers that were hooked and unhooked.  These events are very expensive, cause damage to equipment, pose the threat of bodily injury and are extremely embarrassing to the Driver and the company.

We also had several incidents, a little less spectacular, in which the Driver missed the pin, usually because the trailer was dropped too high, the Driver backed up too far and either smashed the Epic-Vue dome or broke the gladhand off of the trailer.

Proper coupling of a tractor and a trailer is an elementary and frequent process, but it needs to be done properly each and every time to ensure it is successful.  Below is a procedure for coupling a tractor and trailer together that if followed, will ensure success every time.



The first step of coupling a trailer is to thoroughly inspect all critical components. To do this, position your tractor in a straight line in front of the trailer, making sure you are on a level surface without obstacles. Set the parking brake on the tractor.

Inspect the fifth wheel top plate and mounting bracket assembly and make sure the fifth wheel is securely attached to the tractor.

  1. teners. You are looking for loose or cracked fasteners and making sure all components, including welds, are undamaged.
  2. If using a slider, make sure it is secured, locked and in proper position for the desired weight distribution.
  3. Inspect the fifth wheel’s articulation to make sure it moves freely and the ramps tilt downward.
  4. Check the lock mechanism to make sure the lock jaw is open. If necessary, open the lock using the handle.
  5. Check the throat area to make sure it is clean and free of obstructions.
  6. Check the trailer’s upper coupler plate to make sure it is free of debris.


  1.  Line up the tractor in a straight line in front of the trailer.
  2. Back the tractor slowly until the rear axle, but not the fifth wheel, is under the trailer.
  3. Exhaust all air from the tractor’s suspension, apply the parking brake and put the vehicle in neutral.
  4. Make sure the fifth wheel is below the trailer’s upper coupler plate. If needed, raise the trailer using the landing gear.
  5. Once the height is aligned, slowly back up until the fifth wheel is under the leading edge of the trailer. Do not engage the kingpin.
  6. Set the parking brake and put the transmission in neutral.
  7. Get out of the truck and make sure the kingpin is properly aligned with the jaws of the fifth wheel. Once this is confirmed, air up the tractor’s suspension, making sure the fifth wheel makes complete contact with the trailer’s upper coupler plate.
  8. If the fifth wheel does not make complete contact, use the trailer landing gear to lower the trailer until contact is made.
  9. Slowly back the tractor into the trailer until the kingpin is engaged. You will hear the fifth wheel locking mechanism close around the kingpin.
  10. Do a “pull test” to make sure the coupling is complete.
  11. Put the tractor in low gear.
  12. Ease on the throttle just enough to feel resistance and make sure the coupling is secure.
  13. If the coupling is successful, reset the tractor’s parking brake, place the vehicle’s transmission in neutral and shut off the engine.
  14. Connect air lines to the trailer. Check washers on the glad hands to make sure they are in good condition and properly seated against air leaks.
  15. Connect the electrical cable.
  16. Raise the landing gear all the way up and secure the crank handle.
  17. Supply air to the trailer; check for excessive air loss; apply and release trailer brake to check for crossed lines.  If no excessive air loss, set the trailer brakes and conduct the visual inspection.


  1. Look at the fifth wheel top plate to make sure the release handle is fully retracted and secured in the locked position.
  2. Make sure the fifth wheel top plate is positioned securely against the trailer’s upper coupler plate.
  3. Using a flashlight, inspect the fifth wheel’s lock mechanism to make sure the jaws of the fifth wheel are completely closed and locked around the kingpin.
  4. You must redo the coupling procedure if:
    • You find a gap between the fifth wheel and the trailer coupler plate.
    • The jaw is not closed around the kingpin.
    • The lock is not closed behind the jaw

If the inspection shows the coupling was successful – you are ready to go!  If you have any questions, please contact Maintenance Support at 515-574-4321 or the Training Department at ext. 2450.


Let us help you to stay healthy while out on the road!  The TCA Communications Action Team has designated this month to help you do just that.  Follow along as we share some great information that everyone can work into their everyday lives.  The topics we will be covering each week are as follows:

TOPICS TO BE DISCUSSED                                               

January 11   Benefits of Good Sleep Habits and Mental Health                                                                                                                                           

January 18   Proper Nutrition – Eating right to fuel your body and weight loss                                                                                                              

January 25   Physical Fitness – Stretches for mobility and cardiovascular


**Jesse’s Facebook Live at 4:00 on Monday

**Jesse’s YouTube Live at Noon on Tuesday

**Social Media postings on Wednesday

**Blog posts on Thursday

**In “The Latest” Communication on Friday


This Week’s Topic – Fitness on the Road:  Exercises & Stretches

As a Professional Driver, it can be a challenge to get enough exercise since you spend so much time on the road. Sometimes the hardest thing about exercise is to start doing it. Remember to have fun with your fitness journey. Find something you love and just do it!  As always, remember to consult your doctor before making any major changes or starting a new exercise regimen!

To learn more about our Health & Wellness month at Decker, listen to our latest podcast – Episode #31 of Inside the Triangle:

Exercises to try while on the road:

  • Push-ups: helps to build upper body strength, tones and strengthens chest and arm muscles
  • Squats: great for cardiovascular health, strengthens leg muscles, improves core strength
  • Lunges: helps improve cardiovascular health and works lower body muscles
  • Burpees: helps get rid of body fat and builds thigh muscles
  • Pull-ups: tones back muscle and strengthens upper body muscles

The TCA Communications Action Team is excited to announce that exercise bands are coming soon! We will be handing these out to all Professional Drivers as soon as they arrive!  If you would like to have a free exercise band, please pick one up from the Welcome Center or any of our terminals!  Stay tuned to future announcements to learn when they are available!