10 tips for backing up a trailer like a pro


Although truckers focus on the road, a lot of damage is caused when trucks collide with objects behind the trailer. Tom Boehler, Erb Group Senior Director of Safety and Compliance, offers several tips that can help eliminate reversing accidents.

1. Get out and watch

The process begins with a central GOAL, which Mr. Boehler describes as “Get out and watch”. This is crucial every time you go back, especially when dealing with a new position.

2. Use technology to study the context

Use a smartphone or computer and the Google Maps platform to survey an area before your arrival. Checking routes and ways of getting in and out will relieve a lot of stress before your arrival.

3. Check your surroundings when you arrive

Keep your head on your shoulders. You can’t just focus on the left side of the trailer. People will try to get around you on the right. Before you start backing up, check if anyone is moving near you. This includes shunting trucks, other vehicles, forklifts and pedestrians. Wait for them to pave the way for you. Walk to

(Photo: iStock)

4. Look for tire tracks

If anyone has ever walked in and out of the dock on a hot day, you will be able to see the tire tracks they left behind. These will be a marker to follow to the platform door. Similar marks are created on gravel and snow.

5. Learn to use position 12 and 9

Boehler recommends a “12 and 9” configuration for easier support. He imagines going back on a clock face. If your loading dock is between two trailers, for example at 6 o’clock, approach with your semi-trailer perpendicular to the loading dock. Once the drive wheels are aligned with the edge of the parking lot, turn the steering wheel to the right, aiming for the 12 o’clock position. When you see your trailer wheels in the rearview mirror, turn the steering wheel to the left around 9 o’clock. that you hit 9 o’clock and your training tires are straight, the trailer should be about 15-20 feet from the opening. Straighten the trailer, then return to the parking lot.

6. Don’t be afraid to start over

Yes, everyone would like to do the opposite the first time. But don’t be afraid to walk around and start over if you feel the trailer is misaligned. Too many drivers attempt to reverse using an S-curve in these situations and run into problems.

7. Avoid going backwards blindly as much as possible

The best way to get a clear view is to avoid backing up blindly if possible. If you can’t help it, remember once again to go out and watch. Check your location. See where you are going. Stop, exit and double check. Don’t assume you’re lined up with your parking lot. And take advantage of the people who can guide you. Just discuss what they should be watching, where they should be and what signals they should use.

8. Take your time when backing up from road to platform

If you can’t back up on the left side without walking around the block, do so. Look at the mirrors and don’t feel you have to rush when the process begins. Ignore the horns or the exasperated stares of the other pilots.

9. Listen

Roll down the windows for the duration of the reverse process. Turn off the radio and listen. Your ears help you monitor your surroundings and can give you the first signs of an approaching or reversing vehicle.

10. Know when to say no

Ultimately, if you can’t back up to one point, ask for another dock port to be assigned to you. The sender or recipient can also offer a sorting service that will help you. And don’t listen to snide comments that suggest it was another driver. Use your own judgment. Successful drivers may have had an urban cab or single-axle tractor while working with a highway tractor.


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