Backing up a tractor-trailer can be a very intimidating and daunting task for any trucker. Safely maneuvering your big rig into a dock or parking space is a skill that must be learned. Here is our advice on getting started:
Watch and Learn
Ride along and watch other drivers to observe them backing up into parking spots and docks. Take notice to how they move the steering wheel and how the trailer reacts and maneuvers. Learn what they do right and even what they do wrong. A lot can be learned from other drivers so never be afraid to ask experienced drivers for tips and tricks.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
The old saying holds true with backing up a tractor-trailer: practice makes perfect. It could take months, even years, for a driver to be comfortable reversing a semi. Practice as much as possible so you can learn your blind spots and get a good feel for maneuvering a 53-foot trailer to know how your trailer will respond as you move the tractor about.
G.O.A.L. stands for “get out and look”. After you do your walk around and know your path is clear, quickly get in and get going to allow little time for something to get in your way. Once you do get going, never hesitate to get back out and check the area again for clearance. It is always better to err on the side of caution than to have an accident or incident occur because you “thought you had it”.
Use Your Mirrors.
Prior to backing up, be sure your mirrors are clean and you make appropriate adjustments to your mirrors to give you as much visibility as possible. Your mirrors will give you insight on what adjustments need to be made to help guide you into place.
Be Patient with Yourself.
Just remember that every experienced driver was a beginner once so be patient with yourself as you master this skill. Prior to getting started try to relax and visualize what your movements will be to successful dock. Go slow and take breaks when you need them to get out to be sure you are free and clear of obstructions. If you make a mistake or overestimate: stop, pull forward and start over.
Safety is the overall goal. Be sure to practice as much as you can and use the other strategies listed above to successfully and safely master backing up a tractor-trailer.
Roeder Cartage Co. Inc. is proud of its dedication to the safety of its truck driving crew. We have gained tremendous recognition for our efforts and always adhere to strict safety standards and training. For more, check out our safety and training page today.