When it comes to trucking one of the most difficult things to master is backing up. It takes time and a lot of practice. Backing up incorrectly will also make you look like a rookie, or worse, like you REALLY don’t know what you’re doing.
In CDL school there’s not much pressure when it comes to backing up because you’re in a training vehicle with objects like rubber trash cans, so it’s not a big deal if you hit something. However, once you’re out in the real trucking world with the trailer you’re responsible for and other rigs and infrastructure that you could seriously damage, things get a little more intense. Take a deep breath and check out our tips on how to become a trucking master at backing up.
How To Master Backing That Trailer Up
What Not To DoDon’t nose in at truck stops. It looks lazy or like you don’t know how to backup and sometimes leaves your trailer sticking out in the way. Plus, While the back of your trailer is out, it makes it easier thieves to come up and steal your cargo. Then it makes it more difficult to back out later because you can’t see what's coming and don’t have much room for the front of your rig.
Also, don’t treat any parking situation the same. Each spot is different with new obstacles to avoid. You won’t become an expert after only backing up a few times, but it will eventually get easier. Always take it slow and be aware of your surroundings.
Never take advice from someone who isn’t a trucker. People are quick to try to and help you park with hand gestures, but if that person doesn’t have their CDL you shouldn’t trust them. They don’t have the qualified experience to help.
What To DoLook Around
Preview the area. Circle the truck stop to look for obstacles like trash cans and trees to avoid. This may also help you find the easiest spot to get into and avoid debris like glass or nails. When in doubt, G.O.A.L (Get Out And Look) to get a better idea of what’s around you.
If you feel like it might be embarrassing to get out and look, it's not. It shows that you’re a responsible driver taking the time to not hit other trucks. Also, remember to hit your blinkers before you back up to make sure others are aware of your actions.
In your rig, become one with your truck. Clear your mind and get rid of any distractions, this includes silencing your phone and CB. All of your focus should be on backing up. Then take things nice and slow, you never want to pick up too much speed. Also, keep your foot on the brake so you’ll be prepared to stop if you need to.
Remember to use all of your mirrors, keep your eyes moving and don’t stick to one spot. Referring to painted lines to give you an idea of your angels also helps.
Think about your steering wheel. The top is the trailer, and the bottom is the truck, your trailer goes the opposite way of your steering wheel.
Take the time to get good at parking by finding an empty lot and practicing. See how your movements affect your truck. You can also watch other drivers at the truck stop or go online. Truckers love vlogging these days and have a lot of how-to videos on YouTube.
You could also just ask for a few tips. There’s no harm in wanting to learn and experienced truckers like to talk and they like to help. It’s worth taking the time to see what a road veteran has to say.
You'll Be A Master In No Time!
Patience young trucking grasshopper. No one perfectly backs in on their first or even tenth try. Just keep calm, become one with your truck, and be aware of your surroundings. You’ll be able to back that thing up anywhere before you know it.
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