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.
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!