Proper Maintenance Is The Key To Safety

When you are behind the wheel of a Class 8 commercial motor vehicle, safety is paramount. Yes, you need to get your load to its destination, but more than anything, you need to get it there safely. One of the most important factors in operating a safe tractor is ensuring it is properly maintained.

Maintenance needs can also be reduced by purchasing the right size and right vehicle for the job. If you want your work trucks to perform their best and get you and your freight safely from one destination to another, maintenance is a key component. But what is a truck driver or fleet manager to do to ensure this paradigm is followed?

Listen to Your OEM

There is a reason why OEMs make recommendations. When it comes to maintaining your truck(s), OEMs know best. Still, since recommendations can change from year-to-year, it is important that trucking companies know and keep up with the changes. Always make sure you are following the OEM-recommended schedule and use your trucks according to the job they were purchased for. Out-of-route or tough jobs shoehorned for a truck they weren’t built for can accelerate maintenance problems or create unnecessary safety issues.

Listen to Your Dealer

The second-most-important bit of advice you should listen to is that of your dealer. The dealer you purchased the vehicle from and take it to will have the most recent diagnostic and repair information on file. Your technicians should have access to this information. Furthermore, make sure your dealer is asking the right questions. They should want to know how their customers are going to use the vehicles so that they can provide proper advice and insight.

Listen to your Third-Party Provider

Are you a fleet that uses a third-party provider for your maintenance needs? It is up to you to stay on top of what they are doing and ensure you are regularly getting in touch with them. If you are using a third-party provider and they are not staying current with OEM recommendations, it could create greater maintenance costs if repairs mount because your provider is keeping up with the latest information.

Listen to you Truck Drivers

Consider who will be on the front-line using these vehicles: Your truck drivers. Truck drivers can and should directly influence your buying decisions. Truck drivers also have a clear understanding of how the vehicles operate. When you involve your front-line employees on making your buying decisions, it only enhances your overall safety and performance efforts. Don’t shortchange yourself by leaving your truck drivers out of the decision-making process.

Correlate Hours and Forms

You should be carefully looking at your odometer readings to determine when maintenance is due. Even more, you should also be looking at engine hours. You should also be reviewing inspection forms. Both factors will give technicians a good idea of where they are at in the maintenance chain. Your fleet should always be conducting preventative maintenance. If you are completing unplanned repairs, you aren’t doing it right.

Choose Wisely

This may seem simplistic but choosing the right commercial motor vehicle for the job is critical. Considering the number of hours and miles you need to get out of that vehicle, the last thing you want to be doing is shooting yourself in the foot because you did not choose wisely. In addition to choosing the proper vehicle, your maintenance schedule should also sync up with your route and vehicle application. Doing your due diligence by properly researching the vehicle(s) you need will save you big headaches down the road.

 

The Professional Trucker’s Winter Weather Survival Guide

We’ve talked extensively about how to properly operate a large Class 8 commercial motor vehicle in winter weather, but what about situations where you are trapped in wintry weather due to hazards or road closures? If you run into impassable conditions and cannot make your way back, what do you do? Would you be equipped to stay safe if the weather presents a significant challenge? Here are the tips you need to know to stay alive when the worst happens during frigid temperatures.

Monitor Your Fuel Tanks

When it comes to freezing weather, your engine may be your only reliable source of heat. When you need to keep the engine running to provide yourself heat when you are stuck, you’ve got to have enough fuel to last. When your fuel tank is less than half full, the fuel also has a greater chance of gelling or freezing up. This comes from the water in the fuel having less area to disperse.

While anti-gel additives help prevent fuel from gelling, the best bet you have is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Always double check that your fuel tank is above half-a-tank, especially when you may be running into adverse winter conditions.

Keep Food Handy

While it may seem strange to hear us recommend having emergency rations on hand, the last thing you want to do is starve because you are stranded and there is no food anywhere nearby. Eating food also generates body heat, so it would not be a bad idea to stock a small supply of emergency snacks and rations, whether it be candy bars, granola bars, easy-to-make hot meals, or dried fruits and nuts.

Canned soup or jerky also comes in handy and may not need to be heated. You can also use alternative sources of heat, such as defrosters or Sterno cans. Either way, there are different options available to you if you do need heat, but the best idea is to find ration sources that do not need to be cooked and are ready-to-eat.

Prepare Yourself

Have you ever considered carrying a winter survival kit in your cab? Just because you may not be used to dealing with extreme winter weather does not mean you should be caught unprepared. Additionally, you want to make sure you are carrying appropriately warm clothing. Whether it be a heavy parka, long johns, thick socks, or otherwise, if you run out of fuel or food and you are stranded on the side of the road, you will need to fall back on warm winter clothing.

Fortunately, if your budget does not accommodate expensive warm clothing, you can always visit your nearest army surplus, Goodwill, or thrift store. Keep in mind, you won’t be wearing these clothes to a major event, but rather would be using them only in times of extreme need.

Have a Strategy in Mind

If you find yourself in a situation where you are stranded on the side of the road, it is important to have a survival strategy. The worst thing you can do is panic and make a poor choice. You want to clearly assess your options and not do anything rash.

Before you head out, knowing the weather will be bad, make sure you know who you will try to contact if you get stranded. Plan to use your fuel sparingly, idle as little as possible, and properly ration your food. Never leave your vehicle in search of shelter. Your truck is your shelter.

Keeping warm is key in such situations. Provided you have a strategy in place and are well-prepared to survive the elements, survive will be just what you do.

The Safe Way To Crank Your Landing Gear

Cranking landing gear on a tractor is a common task for truck drivers yet, if not done properly, it can result in severe pain or injury. So, what is the best way to reduce pain and injury related to landing gear cranking?

Unfortunately, there has never been a definitive guide to cranking. Truck drivers have had to rely on training and hand-me-down knowledge from other truck drivers and fleet managers. By not knowing the tried-and-true way to crank landing gear, many truck drivers have become susceptible to injury.

Fortunately, people are on the case. The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries recently set out to create a guide to cranking. They wanted to ensure truck drivers had access to a best practices guide that would help prevent injury. So, they teamed up with researchers from North Carolina State University to design a landing gear mock-up and measured range of motion and muscle activity when volunteer truck drivers utilized the crank.

Obviously, raising the trailer will create a greater resistance level for the truck driver. When raising the landing gear, the researchers found that the most ideal position for truck drivers when operating the crank is to stand parallel to the trailer with the trailer to their side. Operating the crank in this position allows the truck driver to utilize the full strength of their body and decreases the amount of overall strain.

When lowering the landing gear, the best position was facing the trailer, as opposed to being parallel to it. The reason behind this lies in the range of motion used. When a truck driver is facing the trailer and crank, they are essentially drawing a circle as they rotate their shoulder. Lower resistance means this is not a problem as the shoulder can adequately operate under those circumstances.

But as you raise resistance, the shoulder cannot bear too much strain. It is much harder for your shoulder to draw that circle when you are raising the landing gear. Drawing the circle without standing parallel takes the power of the elbow out of the equation. Without the elbow and associated muscles, the strain on the shoulder to generate the required torque could cause injury or pain.

Slippage also represents a danger when torqueing the crank. If you are raising the landing gear and standing face-on to the trailer, if your hand slips off the crank handle, the ricochet coiling force could impact the truck driver, which could cause even greater injury. Still, the experiment was not without some problems.

Researchers did not have the easiest time setting up a laboratory environment that adequately mimicked how truckers operate in the field. Other tasks that leave truck drivers open to potential injury include pulling the fifth wheel pin or pulling the rolling door. But those tasks were much harder to stimulate. A controllable study was far easier when simulating lifting the crank.

Additionally, tasks like pulling a fifth wheel pin, raising the hood, or operating the rolling door have a lot more documentation regarding how to do it without potentially creating a hazardous situation. Operating the crank seemed to be a task that there was very little documentation on.

The next step, according to researchers, is to create an industry-standard document that trucking companies can turn to when they need to train truck drivers on this potentially hazardous task. Studies like these only benefit fleets and truck drivers by preventing injury and potential loss. We hope that more studies like it appear in universities across the country.

How To Ensure Proper Focus On The Road

Truck drivers spend long hours on the road. Spending so much time behind the wheel can sometimes cause a brain drain, or lack of focus. Research has shown that just two hours behind the wheel can have an impact on someone’s cognitive ability. It is crazy to think that the simple act of driving can do such a thing, but it is true.

Fortunately, truck drivers can take control over their cognitive processes and “what they are thinking” through simple steps. It is possible to prevent brain fatigue from turning a sharp road into blurred highway lines. Mental sharpness also often suffers from routine syndrome. Routine syndrome is essentially the process by which people do something over and over to the point where they put less effort into being creative or alert.

Truck drivers especially should make efforts to freshen their brain’s ability to stay sharp. With lives at stake, safe driving techniques, especially when operating a large commercial motor vehicle, require a sharp brain and quick thinking. Fortunately, there are quick and easy ways to accomplish this without feeling overwhelmed.

Use Your Senses

As a professional truck driver, you may think that vision is really the most important sense. In reality, you want to make sure all of your senses are in tip top shape at all times. So, next time you are on a meal break or stop, take a moment to observe your senses. Whether it be taste, smell, sound, or touch, enter an almost meditative state to ensure you are properly feeling each sense.

Observing our senses is something we do not do enough, but when we do, it helps to keep our senses on alert. Consider the principle behind which blind people generally have extremely sharp hearing. This is a result of them keenly focusing on their hearing and using it as the dominant sense. The more you focus on your senses the more acutely you will perceive and use them.

Daydream

Another important technique that seems almost elementary is that of the daydream. There is no harm in taking a few moments when you aren’t behind the wheel to visualize a place you enjoy or a memory that makes you particularly happy.

The process of daydreaming helps to exercise your imagination and improves your overall memory and level of cognition. It also helps keep your senses sharp by taking you back to another time or place. The point of this process is not to just imagine or remember something you like, but to go through the process of putting your mind through its paces.

Make a Change

When you change your routine, it shifts your brain into a different mode. If routine syndrome results in you becoming less creative or sharp, then changing that routine or type of activity can reinvigorate your thought process. When you are driving in your passenger car, try a different route, as one example.

Making a change does not need to be extreme. You do not have to go about trying to change a whole bunch of different things about your life. This really is about making a few small shifts here and there, perhaps varying your hobbies or free time a bit more.

In the end, these types of activities serve to help you break out of any brain lock that comes from spending long hours on the road. They will also help keep your mind fresh and alert for other tasks throughout your day. Vary your thought process and activities and you will be sure to keep your mind sharp as a tack no matter what stretch of road you are on!

Proper Planning And Patience The Key To Winter Driving

With snowy conditions covering over half the United States, these can be tricky times for professional truck drivers. It is no secret that winter weather conditions provide unique challenges for truck drivers, even those with million-mile safety records. No matter the season, shippers have the same expectations that freight hauls will be delivered on-time. Slower speeds, reduced visibility and poor road conditions can put a serious crimp in this paradigm.

Yet, there are two factors that can ensure truck drivers get their freight safely from one place to another during the hazardous winter driving conditions. The two keys to winter operation are both good planning and persistent patience.

Professional truck drivers must understand that more time must be baked into the equation when winter storms are blanketing the roads. They must also do their best to plan around severe storms or unfortunate weather events. Even more, patience means not trying to rush just because road conditions are causing delays. If there is anything that could result in an unfortunate accident, it is trying to rush when conditions are unsafe.

Truck drivers must also be extra vigilant in watching for other drivers who may not know how to handle the rough winter road conditions. Whether it be leaving extra space ahead or behind the truck, stopping distances are critical when operating on wet or icy roadways.

Dispatchers must also work with truck drivers to ensure there are alternative routes ready when rough winter conditions make certain roadways unsafe. It is critical that advance research is done when heavy snow or ice is hampering your usual route. Substitute parking locations should also be part of the equation when researching how to avoid hazardous winter weather.

Trucking companies who do not live by the ethos of proper patience and planning find themselves in a bind should the worst happen. It is also important that truck drivers act on the spot when weather conditions which were not on the company weather report suddenly make road conditions too dangerous. Many truck drivers use real-time weather map apps or advanced radar systems tied to tablets or smartphones to stay ahead of the game.

It is also important to consider others who may be operating on the roadways and trying to clear the road of snow or debris. Law enforcement shares the same goal of safe operation on the nation’s roads and highways during winter. Take snow plow drivers as one example. Snow plow operators work in the most dangerous winter conditions, often with little-to-no visibility. When a truck driver sees a snow plow on the road, it is of utmost importance to give them proper space, distance, and patience to do their job.

Providing extra space when operating around snow plows is important because snow plows have wing blades that can extend 10 – 12 feet out from the side of their vehicle. Consider that is the equivalent of a full traffic lane. While these blades often have blinking lights to signal where they are, difficult visibility conditions can make it extra hard to see those lights. Allowing for safe distance and slow driving can make the difference between getting your load safely to the receiver or winding up in an accident, or worse.

Patience is a virtue, especially during winter driving. Never be tempted to pass in unsafe conditions or speed to get around an obstacle when the conditions are snowy or icy. Safe winter driving is key to maintaining a safe record. Don’t let the icy conditions blanketing half the U.S. lull you into a rushed sense of impatience or bad planning.

When Doing The Right Things Right Is What Matters

Today, we wanted to focus on some very important credos in trucking. Simple turn of phrases often carry great meaning, and the same is true in trucking. No matter what level of the trucking organization you occupy, understanding the importance of words is critical to your success. Let’s start with the first credo.

Do the Right things Right

When it comes to operating a trucking company or driving a big rig in a safe and professional manner, there is one axion that everyone should have at the front of their mind: Do the right things right. Let’s take some time to expand on that important way of thinking about things viewed through the context of safety.

You may read this credo and think, “Well, isn’t that just doing the right thing?” Not really. When it comes to communicating something well or making the proper decision, intent is key. Soldiers in the military know how important it is to understand intent when following through with an order. In situations where it is incumbent upon them to make the decision free of orders, intent is even more important.

Understanding a commander or fleet manager’s intention when issuing an order, asking a question, or providing a new directive provides the basis of how important it is to do the right things right. In the trucking business, this ethos reflects a leader’s intent, which will influence the planning and execution of the question or directive. Trucking is a dynamic business and requires a dynamic level of thinking to ensure safety and success, in-and-out, day-after-day.

Above All, Do No Harm

Here is another important credo we all must keep in mind: Nothing we do is worth harming ourselves or others. These eight simple words should influence everything you do. As a professional truck driver or transportation professional, when you are confronted with tension between competing demands, the best way to handle them is to go back to the two important credos we have just outlined. These simple phrases can be used to reconcile the tension and decide on the best course of action.

Realizing that nothing we do is worth harming ourselves or others is a qualitative statement that should guide a truck driver or trucking organization to strive for operational excellence in everything they say and do. It is important to consider that excellence is achieved and sustained only by assessing your individual and collective performance both critically and continuously. There is no room for error or time to let up when it comes to this assessment.

With the near-real time performance technologies available to us today, the right tools in the hands of fleet managers and truck drivers, when embraced, represent great ways to critically and continuously assess and improve performance measures. By making a habit of following these important credos, over time, truck drivers have fewer crashes or incidents that consume a lot of valuable time. It is better to spend time learning safety credos or technologies than it is investigating instances of failure.

Doing the right things right and ensuring we do nothing that harms ourselves or others requires investments in safety technologies and proactive programs that enable us to live by these credos. When commercial truck drivers fail to live by these simple words, they not only fail to achieve excellence, but accidents can occur. The stakes are simply far too high to allow performance to be managed passively. So, next time you have an operational question you just can’t seem to find the answer to, ask yourself, are you doing the right things right?

Personalizing Your Trucking Safety Program

Often, when a truck driver is contacted by a recruiter for a trucking company, the offer can sound too good to be true. Yet, the present environment, where qualified and experienced truck drivers are hard to come by it isn’t hard to imagine that the endeavors trucking companies are embarking on to capture qualified candidates can sometimes sound like total fantasy.

To attract and retain qualified and enthusiastic truck drivers, trucking companies today need to sound almost too good to be true. In every conversation and/or interaction with the company, trucking organizations need to refer to their people as “professional truck drivers.” Potential recruits will hear if you refer to your people as “drivers” or “CDL holders.” This incredibly impersonal way of referring to your people could easily send potential new operators looking for a company that speaks like it appreciates them more.

Does your trucking company sound like it places value on the team and treat the truck drivers on their payroll like professional colleagues? This is especially true for potential truck drivers or employees who have worked in safety before. These employees will want to know that the company they are joining will support their efforts to create a personalized safety program, because those are the most effective programs.

Creating a Personalized Program

To create a safety management program that truly sticks, a fleet safety manager must first recognize that everyone is human, and each person has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. The key to creating an effective safety program is to identify the individual strengths and weaknesses of each employee and then using those personality aspects to create an advantage for each employee.

It takes highly committed leadership and innovative thinking to create and maintain an all-encompassing safety environment. It is an approach that must pervade throughout the entire organization. They key thing to remember is that your organization should not have to ‘sell’ their safety and operator recognition program to attract top talent. It should be obvious as a part of what they do without any selling required.

Everyone within the organization, from top-level leadership on down to front-line truck drivers, must live the safety philosophy every day. The company should exist not just for a profit motive, but to be an advocate for their people that they employ and their families.

Technologically-Based Initiatives

If there is one way to prove to current and potential employees that you care about their safety, it is the amount of resources you place in safety programs they count on. Whether it be through a web-based safety program or otherwise, there are specific technologies you can use in your recruiting efforts to attract top talent.

The secret to success in business isn’t very much of a secret. It comes down to getting people, processes and equipment aligned in such a way that there is no question in regards to the benefit of the program you are putting into place.

From video-based programs to customized web-based training sessions, effective motor carriers invest in safety programs that will not only help to attract new truck drivers but remind current truck drivers that the company they call home is invested in their development.

Are you personalizing your truck driver safety program to those within your organization? Remember, not every employee responds to the same training or safety stimuli. Invest in comprehensive programs and ensure those responsible for training your people understands the unique needs of each employee, and you will be set up for success!

 

Your Trucking Safety Update From Washington

There have been a lot of big moves in Washington D.C. yet again where the trucking industry is concerned. It seems every year, as we reach the end of the year, a flurry of activity changes the game for trucking operators, and this year is no exception. December has been a big month, with the latest news being the FMCSA’s decision to grant the ATA’s petition to intervene in state rest break rules.

Rest Break Update

The new guidance stems from a late-September push by ATA lobbyists to have the DOT pre-empt meal and rest break rules that California had recently put into effect. The trucking advocacy group argued that the new patchwork set of rules would cause an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce by  sowing confusion among motor carriers who operate across state lines.

In a statement on the matter, ATA President and CEO Chris Spear stated that the ruling by the DOT was “a victory for highway safety.” He went on to state that the pre-emption would “unburden businesses throughout the supply chain and keep the prices Americans pay for food, clothing, and countless other items affordable and accessible.”

The main thrust of the argument is that it will be easier for truck drivers to follow a single set of rules, whether they are operating in California or in Oregon. Still, others argue that this will allow trucking companies who are fighting to keep up with record demand to take advantage of their truck drivers, especially where they are classified as independent contractors.

Movement on Jason’s Law

Meanwhile, the Federal Highway Administration is conducting a second Jason’s Law survey asking for feedback regarding the availability of safe truck parking spots for commercial motor vehicle operators. This particular study will also include feedback requests for trucking operations managers and truck stop owners and operators.

Jason’s Law was signed by President Barack Obama in July of 2012 and is named for New York-based truck driver Jason Rivenburg, who was killed in 2009 during a robbery after he parked his big rig at an abandoned South Carolina gas station. The FHWA has cited the lack of available truck parking as a national safety concern.

The safety concern stems from the potential for fatigued truck drivers to either drive when they are too tired to be behind the wheel or to look for parking situations that might be unsafe. The new survey is designed to update the industry on progress made since the initial survey report, which was completed in August of 2015. The mandate comes as a result of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act.

With the new survey, the FHWA aims to update the inventory of truck parking and identify improvements that need to be made since the 2015 survey. They will also highlight what improvements have been made, so that interested parties know where to go. They will also be looking at state-specific truck travel to determine where truck parking demand has increased since the prior survey.

In a new development, the agency will also be evaluating the different types of technologies being developed and used to monitor truck parking availability. With many states and private parties instituting truck parking information systems, the agency hopes to put a comprehensive list together that transportation companies can quickly access for solutions.

Finally, the agency will compile truck parking plans, state studies, and other projects, both governmental and private and by metropolitan planning organizations to see what works and what does not. Hopefully, efforts like these will prevent future issues like what happened to create the need for Jason’s Law in the first place.

Top Tips For Backing Up Your Trailer – Part II

Welcome back to our two-Part series taking a closer look at the most effective ways to complete one of the most complex aspects of driving a tractor trailer: backing it up. In our first installment, we covered the basics of backing up, what it entails, and initial ways of completing it safely. This week we are going to dig a little deeper.

As a professional truck driver, maintaining a positive record is as much about driving safely on the nation’s roads and highways as it is about maneuvering your big rig. When you are backing your vehicle up, one of the most important things you can do starts with where the connection is made.

Glance At Your Tandems

Of course what your trailer is doing during the backup sequence is important, but you should also be looking at your tandems. You can likely use lines on the pavement to help you judge what angle the truck and the trailer should be at.

Don’t Be Distracted

Just like there is no shame in getting out and looking to make sure you are at the proper angle, there is also no shame in turning off your CB, putting the cell phone down, and shutting off the music. When you are backing up a heavy-duty commercial motor vehicle, you must be focused on the job at hand. Distractions can cause accidents in almost any situation.

Ask A Friend

If you are a new truck driver trying to complete a backing up maneuver in the yard, other truck drivers will be willing to spot you should you need help. Just make sure you are asking someone who is also a truck driver and feels comfortable assisting you. No one wants to see one of their fellow truck drivers get into an accident or cause a major problem because of a failed maneuver, so they will help.

Watch Others

You can learn a lot by watching someone else do something. If you feel you are deficient in your ability to back up, why not pay close attention to when someone else does it at your next opportunity? By watching someone else successfully back up, you can gain a greater understanding about how a trailer pivots.

Think Like A Bird

Imagining what it might look like to back up from an aerial view will help you get the job done correctly by giving you a different perspective. Pretend you are looking down at a toy truck and try to visualize what you need to do to square up the space on a pivot. Visualization lets your minds eye picture where you want it to go. Pairing that with getting out to check once your brain has pictured it completes the observation.

Keep Your Foot On The Brake

Always remember that when you are backing up, you should have your foot ready on the brake once you start rolling backwards at a low rate of speed. Keep your foot covering the brake pedal so that you can be ready to slow down or stop if necessary.

Don’t Back Up

This may sound completely counter intuitive, but it is very true. If it makes sense to not have to back the vehicle up, then why do so? Especially if backing up is not your strongest ability to begin with. Wise truck drivers will do their best to find parking spots that they can pull through. This will not only save time but it will minimize risk.

We hope you have learned something from our two-Part series on backing up! As one of the more complex maneuvers a trucker must undertake, being comfortable with it is critical to driving safe and accident-free!

Top Tips For Backing Up Your Tractor Trailer – Part I

Ask just about any professional truck driver and they will tell you how difficult it is to back up a tractor trailer. Reversing a vehicle and its load can be incredibly tricky, especially for new truck drivers. That is why it is critical that truckers don’t let bad backing skills make or break their career.

Out of all the truck maneuvers a truck driver must learn, backing up is one of the most difficult to master. Some might even say that no one actually ever masters backing up. It is a constant effort of practicing and doing that helps truck drivers get more confident in the task. There must be a level of comfort to backing up a big rig in order to do it safely and successfully every time.

That’s why we wanted to devote some time to providing the basic tips required for any truck driver to successfully back up their tractor trailer. Whether you are a newbie, or an experienced truck driver with over a million safe miles under your belt, tips like these will never get old.

Pull Your Vehicle Up

Never hesitate to pull up or pull back around if you don’t get it right the first time. The fact is this: There isn’t a truck driver alive who has a 100% perfect record on backing up their truck. Yet, the smart truck driver will recognize when they have not gotten it right and take the necessary steps to correct it. Eventually they will get it right and each time they practice the maneuver they will get progressively better at it.

Speaking of Practice

The best way to ace a trucking maneuver is to spend plenty of time practicing it. Truck drivers must get a good feel for how their trailer moves and reacts to their driving skill. No two truck drivers operate a big rig in the same way, so figuring out the idiosyncrasies of a truck will require plenty of practice.

Empty Lots Are Your Friend

If you are wondering where you will practice your skills, if it isn’t in your home yard, then find an empty lot or empty truck stop to test your skills. Of course, it is important to check with whomever is managing the lot before you start driving around it and practicing maneuvers, but generally, if the lot is empty, you should be able to practice in it.

Check the Steering Wheel

Far too few truck drivers remember that when backing up, they can use their steering wheel as a marker for how they’re doing. New truck drivers would be wise to learn and practice this skill. Imagine the top of the steering wheel as the truck and the bottom as the trailer. As you back up, if you turn the steering wheel to the right, the bottom goes right, which means the trailer will go right. Turning it to the left causes the bottom to go left, so this is also what the trailer will do.

Have a GOAL

If there is one idiom that every truck driver should follow, it is to have a GOAL. In other words, to Get Out And Look! Never hesitate to get out of your vehicle and have a look if you are unsure about whether you are going to hit something or the position of your trailer. There is no harm in being extra cautious for the sake of safety.

Fortunately, this isn’t all we have for you. Join us next week when we dive deeper into what it takes to safely back up a tractor trailer.