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Although backing is a standard tractor-trailer movement, a skilled driver finds it to be one of the trickiest. Backing a tractor-trailer well needs talent, patience, practice, and sound judgment.


This chapter focuses on the fundamentals of backing, such as safe backing, and the many kinds of backing techniques that are often used.


Backing Principles and Rules


Steering principles — When backing a tractor-trailer, techniques/procedures are substantially different than when backing a personal vehicle. The front axle of the majority of personal automobiles functions as the steering axle. In a tractor-trailer, the trailer is guided by the rear tractor axle.


The angle between the tractor and the trailer determines how much the trailer can turn or move. The trailer will rotate more often and go backward less when the angle is larger.


Types of backing maneuvers — The fundamental backup maneuvers you must learn to vehicle out your work safely are as follows:


  • Straight line backing;

  • Alley dock backing;

  • Parallel parking;

  • Sight side backing; and

  • Blind side backing.

  • Alley dock backing — This motion entails backing while turning into a place with the vehicle at a 90-degree angle. It usually happens when you have to reverse in from the street or between two vehicles at loading docks.

  • Blind side backing — This indicates that you are moving your vehicle's sight side toward the rear. Your review mirrors are your sole view of the road ahead. Backing on the blind side is riskier and more challenging than back on the sight side. You have a greater risk of striking anything since you can see so little. When possible, blindside backing should be avoided.


  • Parallel parking — Backing into a spot along a curb or dock is required for this. Although the concept is the same as parallel parking a vehicle, tractor-trailer parallel parking is one of the hardest maneuvers to master.

  • Straight line backing — This backing technique is the most basic and is the foundation for learning all other backing movements.


  • Sight side backing — This indicates that you are moving your vehicle's left side toward the rear. The trailer's projected course is shown. The best backup position is on the sight side since you are most visible.

Rules for safe backing — Every backward move has the potential to be hazardous. In the majority of backing scenarios, merely a split second or two is sufficient for anything or someone to enter the path of an approaching vehicle.


In starting any backing movement, it is important to execute the following safety checks:


    • Exit the vehicle and look behind you (GOAL);


    • Vehicle sides, below, and above should all be checked;


    • Verify the swing clearance is sufficient;


    • Check the area in front of your vehicle to see whether you need to go ahead; and


    • Alert people that the truck is backing up.


Move the vehicle as soon as the safety inspections are finished. Any pause might provide room for additional possible risk. Repeat the safety inspections if there is a delay.


An effective position is necessary for backing. Straight is the best and safest starting posture. However, the majority of backing scenarios in use today do not provide the space required to line up completely straight. The more you practice, the more proficient you will get at backing up properly.


Other important backup advice is as follows:


  • Being patient;
  • Using the lowest reverse gear and backing up as gently as possible;
  • Not accelerating (use idle speed) or clutch-riding;

  • Do not oversteer;

  • Backing whenever possible to the left (sight side);

  • Using mirrors;

  • Restarting the backup technique rather than doing it incorrectly.

  • Closing the windows and turning off the radio to listen for sounds;

  • Looking back at the rig;

  • Using flashers & the horn;

  • Keep an eye out for anything that might tip the trailer (curbs, ramps, etc.);

  • Avoiding objects in the air (such as cables and tree branches);

  • If possible, have someone observe and direct the rig from outside.


Use of a helper — You may be able to finish a backing motion with assistance depending on business policies.


You and the helper must agree on signals while utilizing a helper, with stop serving as the most crucial indication. To ensure that you can always see the assistance, they should be moving side to side in front of the tractor. Stop right away if you cannot see your assistance.


Even when you have a helper, you still need to be fully accountable for your decisions. Because there is a helper accessible, you cannot ignore your obligation.


The Basic Backing Maneuvers


Straight line backing — The simplest backing technique is straight-line backing. It should be learned before trying other backing movements since it is the foundation for learning all other backing maneuvers.


The vehicle should be positioned straight and not sway to either side while performing a straight-line backing motion. Remember that less steering effort will be required to correct for drift the sooner the drift is noticed. Restart the move if drifting can not be readily stopped. Starting a new is simpler than moving the vehicle while it is reversing.



Check both mirrors periodically while you are backing up. Choose a reference point that is between 100 and 200 feet behind the trailer. This will make it easier for you to see drifting in the vehicle.


Alley dock backing — When backing into parking spots and loading docks, alley dock backing is often utilized. Backing in a straight line and sight side are combined in this move. Patience and utmost care are needed for this technique. Continue to monitor the vehicle's clearance and keep an eye out for any moving vehicles, pedestrians, or other obstacles once the backup motion has begun.


When backing an alley dock, the following procedures should be followed:


  1. Move forward while driving straight ahead close to the loading dock or parking place. Check for obstacles in the mirrors (people, animals, objects). Turn sharply to the sight when the front of the trailer is parallel to the left side of the loading dock or parking area.

  2. Continue going ahead (slowly, at idle speed). Turn the tractor at a 45-degree angle to the left when it is around 12 in the clock face.

  3. Keep moving forward (slowly) until the trailer is angled at a 45-degree angle. Straighten your car and come to a complete stop when you can see the dock or parking place in your left mirror.

  4. After coming to a complete stop, apply the brakes, get out, and inspect your surroundings before beginning the backward movement. The safety checks stated previously in the chapter are included in this. Check the positioning of the car, too. Straight tires should be used for steering. Open the trailer's doors if you are delivering or picking up cargo.

  5. Get back into the vehicle and begin to reverse (slowly). Remember that there can be times when you need to halt the vehicle and double-check your course. As you go, straighten out the vehicle. Utilize the mirrors. Keep a watchful eye out for drift and make any required corrections.

  6. Avoid making an inadequate setup work. Starting anew is a better option than going back and correcting your mistakes.


Despite the fact that method is the same regardless of the vehicle, there are certain differences. For instance, the overhang of a vehicle may force the trailer to collide with an object to the side.


Parallel parking — One of the hardest movements a tractor-trailer can do is this. To successfully do this technique, practice, talent, and patience are needed.


When parallel parking, the following actions should be taken:


  • Your car must be parked near the other cars parked. Give the vehicles a distance of around three feet.

  • As you approach the parking place, go forward in a straight line.

  • Stop the trailer when the rear tandem axles are approximately eight feet in front of the parking place. Before beginning the backing movement, apply the brakes, get out of the vehicle, and do a visual inspection. The safety checks stated previously in the chapter are included in this. also, verify the location of the vehicle. Your vehicle should be parked in a straight line with at least three feet separating it from any other parked vehicles. Eight feet should be left in front of the parking place for the rear tandem axles.

  • Get back in the vehicle, turn the steering wheel to the left, and start backing up slowly. The angle at which the trailer should enter the area should be about 15 degrees.

  • Use a rapid turn of the steering wheel to look ahead and keep backing up until the tractor and trailer are in a straight line. Your car should be parked in the spot in the center. Back up until the trailer's front is level with the front of the parking spot.

  • Sharply turn the steering wheel in the direction of the view and continue to back up until the trailer is parallel to the parking place.

  • Turn the wheel completely to the left & follow the trailer into the spot until it is virtually parallel to the parking place. By moving ahead, the units may be straightened up to make any corrections.


Always resume the move rather than attempt to repair what went wrong if your vehicle is ever out of place when backing.




You have learned about backing guidelines and fundamental backing techniques in this chapter. Keep in mind that one of the trickiest things a professional driver can do is back up. Successful backing involves patience, talent, and practice.

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