April 2, 2008

life time lefty

A Reader wrote:

At 56 I have had a lifetime of doing things backwards and have overcome them all. Now however a new problem has me perplexed. I and another man, about 30, are learning to drive 18 wheeled tractor trailers. We are both having trouble backing up and starting off in a straight line to back up. We are both above average in all other training, we are both left handed. Our right handed classmates are days ahead of us on backing. Our instructor is right handed and can not understand our problem. Has anyone run into this same problem or have advice on where to go for help? I believe my problem has to do with perception of angles and depth in a left handed person.


  1. I drove a 18 wheeler for a couple years with no problem with backing. Without seeing what you're doing I can't tell you what you're doing wrong. Are you tying to use your right hand to steer or your left hand? I would fix my mind on the rear of the truck trailer and place it were I wanted it. I don't think it's to do with perception of angle and depth. Mine is great, more so than my twin brother's who is right handed.I think it might be the fact that a right hander is teaching you to do it backwards from what you are used to doing things. Again without seeing your procedures I can't say for sure,.I would try with both hands to see which works best for you. Let me know how it works out for ya.


  2. I drove big rigs for a couple of years. Believe it or not, I found that to backup in a straight line, it worked best to keep the steering wheel moving, left right left right, but only a little, just a degree or two. I'd get hopelessly off kilter trying to hold it steady. I'm a lefty+ and didn't seem to have any more issues with it than anyone else in my training class did.

  3. Could it have to do with eye dominance? I know that, in addition to being left-handed, I am also left eye dominant, and I know that this has had at least some perceptual impact on my driving - although, I have never driven anything larger than an SUV.

    Good luck.

  4. Hi,
    well it sounds to me like it is a stick shift you guys are learning, if so then welcome to the club. It took me years to figure out why it is so hard for me still to this day, to learn how to use a stick, I finally realize it is because I have to use my right hand. I only use my right hand sparingly due to my grandmother baby sitting me when I was little, and she always put things in my right hand; to this day I use my right hand only for scissors and using a can opener.

  5. I am happy to see a space like this. My son is grown up now, but when he was in Kindergarten, his brain had not decided at the time whether or not to use his right or left hand. His teacher was adamant about him using his right hand. Of course the Teacher and I went round and round about that. It caused my son slight stress because she was not giving him the choice. Never did understand her reasoning. Well my son at this time mainly uses his right but can use his left if needed and is a fantastic Graphic Artist.

  6. Former Pseudo-RightieNovember 5, 2009 at 7:11 PM

    Simple tip for backing up;

    Steer while holding the bottom of the steering wheel and simply turn the wheel in the direction you want the trailer to go.

    Turn the bottom of the wheel to the right and the trailer goes to the right.

    Turn the bottom of the wheel to the left and the trailer goes to the left.

    It works.


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