While backing up a tractor-trailer may seem no different than any other vehicle, it’s not. It’s quite challenging due to the size and complexity of a commercial vehicle. A large number of truck drivers struggle with this task since it’s one of the hardest maneuvers.
Putting your tractor-trailer in reverse is one of the biggest causes of truck damage. A high number of claims filed in the trucking industry involve a driver backing up a tractor-trailer. Therefore, backing up a semi is a crucial skill and needs to be taken seriously!
In this article, we will give some suggestions on how to safely back up your big rig.
How to Safely Back Up a Tractor Trailer
The following are some tips you should keep in mind when backing up your truck in a parking lot, loading dock, gas station, etc.
Know Your Blind Spots
There’s always a chance that you may have to park your tractor-trailer next to another vehicle. Objects located in your blind spot can be hard to see, especially when you’re operating such a large vehicle. Therefore, you need to avoid blindsiding, if possible. It’s best to get out and look at the area you’re targeting first and take a mental picture.
After doing this you need to position your semi accordingly and put it in reverse. Make sure you take your time and always watch your blind spot. If needed, get out and look every 5 feet to make sure you’re going in the right direction.
Keep Your Windows Rolled Down
When you’re putting your truck in reverse make sure you keep the windows down at all times. Doing so will allow you to be more aware of your surroundings, like if someone were to honk or shout at you.
Having your windows down also gives you the ability to stick your head out and watch behind you as you’re trying to back up.
Only Use Experienced Spotters
Oftentimes when we’re having trouble parking we ask someone to be our spotter. You can pretty much ask just about anyone to do this since you’re in a regular vehicle. However, this isn’t the case for tractor-trailers. Due to the size of a tractor-trailer, it’s hard for just a regular bystander to understand the complexity of a semi.
Therefore, you should only ask an experienced trucker to be your spotter. This is because those who aren’t a trucker wouldn’t know to watch the whole truck and trailer and may only watch a certain portion.
However, if you don’t have another trucker around to be your spotter then your best bet is getting out and looking.
Get Out and Look
The best way to avoid any damage to your truck or your surroundings is by getting out and looking. Although this tip may seem like common sense, it can be overlooked. Therefore, get out and look as many times as you need to. It’s always better than the alternative!
Take It Slow
One of the most important things you can do is take your time! Due to the size of a tractor-trailer, you need to be cautious and move slowly. We suggest you go no faster than 5 mph, this way you have more time to react if something were to go wrong.
Operating a tractor-trailer can be quite difficult, especially when you’re putting it in reverse. Although our suggestions above don’t guarantee a 100% success rate every time, they should reduce the chance of costly damage. Therefore, always remember to be alert and take things slow when you’re backing up your tractor-trailer. Even if you need to get out and look numerous times, it’s well worth it in the long run.