For large trucks, the most common advice related to backing up is this: if you can plan ahead and pull through, don’t put yourself in a position where you have to back up. Sometimes, though, you have to back up so here are a few tips for getting your back up skills sharp:
Practice in open areas
One of the best ways to get good at backing up is to practice in an open area. Generally, empty parking lots without any pylons or lights make a good practice ground. You can even use wheel chocks or other road gear to set up a practice range. Regardless of how much experience we have as drivers, our skills can become dull without use. Practice is key to staying safe and sharp.
When in doubt, GOAL
Whether you’re backing up to a loading dock, moving a load in the yard, or trying to get out of a tight spot, you may not be able to see very well. If your vision is limited, don’t rush, GOAL (Get Out and Look), the stress you will have saved is worthwhile. This can also help prevent costly backing accidents. We offer more advice on the GOAL tactic in our courses.
Remember how steering moves the trailer
When driving a trailer, it is very easy to impulsively turn the steering wheel like a normal vehicle. The only problem is, trailers back up the opposite direction of the steering wheel. You have to turn trailers with the rear dually axle as opposed to the front wheels. It is also worthwhile to know that pulling up and backing again to straighten the trailer gives you more visibility.
Be mindful of what’s around you
When backing a trailer, don’t be afraid to get out and check to see what’s behind you. Keep an eye on the mirrors—usually the left mirror—and watch for any changes to your environment. You don’t want to clip the loading dock or one of the workers.
At Heavy Metal Truck Training, we offer a safe space for drivers—both seasoned and “green” drivers to come, learn, and practice their trade. Call us today and see how we can help you master these and other important trucking skills! 651-528-8994