At Schlipf Road Park & Go our truck parking spaces are 11’ to 15’. We are of the opinion that there should be no blindside parallel or reversing into spaces because it is dangerous and avoidable. However, we wanted to highlight some of the most common truck driving techniques. We’ll also offer 12 essential tips to improve your backing and driving techniques when you’re on the road, delivering a load, or offloading at a dropyard.
Mastering safe truck backing techniques is one of the most important skills a truck driver will ever learn. Precision maneuvering is required to back up a tractor trailer safely but it is not an easy thing to learn.
Semi-Truck Backing & Driving Techniques
Click on a link in the list below to jump to each section.
- Blind Side Backing/Reversing
- Blind Side Parallel Parking
- Sight Side Backing
- Straight Line Backing
- Alley Docking/Backing
- Sight Side Jack Knife Backing
- Parallel Parking
Blind Side Backing or Reversing
Blind side backing should only be used when there is no other alternative because it is one of the most dangerous driving maneuver a trucker can encounter while driving a tractor trailer. This is because there are huge blind spots not visible on the opposite side of the driver and to its rear. If you find yourself in a situation where blind side backing is the only option make sure you have a reliable spotter who can communicate directions to you clearly from the passenger side mirror.
Blind Side Parallel Parking
Blind side parallel parking should only be attempted as a last resort when there are no other techniques available. Just as its name implies, this maneuver requires the driver to parallel park a tractor trailer leading with the rear passenger side (blind side). As with other blind side backing techniques it should only be used as a last resort and with a spotter.
Sight Side Backing
Sight side backing involves reversing a semi truck leading with the driver side. While all backing maneuvers in a commercial 18 wheeler pose a certain degree of risk, sight side backing carries slightly less danger compared with blind side backing.
Straight Line Backing
Straight line backing is a driving technique commercial drivers use when backing up tractor trailers and semis. When a driver is straight line backing they are slowly reversing to keep the trailer and cab in as straight a line as possible by gently moving the steering to the left and right.
Alley docking, aka Alley backing is a reverse driving technique used by truck drivers to back the truck up into a narrow alley to the left or right of them.
Sight Side Jack Knife Backing
Sight side backing means backing up on the left sight side of the semi truck so that the driver maintains a clear sight path.
Sight Side Parallel Parking
Parallel parking in an 18 wheeler is a difficult but learnable skill whereby the driver parks the tractor trailer parallel inside a parking space from the left (sight) side of the rig.
12 Driving Technique Tips for Truck Drivers
1. Start with a Thorough Inspection
Begin by inspecting your vehicle and surroundings. Check mirrors, lights, and brakes. A meticulous pre-backing routine ensures a smooth maneuver and minimizes risks.
2. Adjust Mirrors for Optimal Visibility
Properly adjusted mirrors are your allies in the backing process. Eliminate blind spots by fine-tuning side and rear-view mirrors, granting you a comprehensive view of your surroundings.
3. Use a Spotter When Available
Having a second set of eyes can make all the difference. If possible, employ a spotter to guide you, especially in tight spaces. Clear communication with your spotter is crucial for a seamless backing operation.
4. Master the Art of Small Steering Adjustments
Precision is key in backing. Practice making slight steering adjustments to control the trajectory of your trailer. Small movements can have a significant impact, allowing you to navigate with finesse.
5. Know Your Vehicle’s Pivot Point
Understanding the pivot point of your truck-trailer combination is fundamental. Maneuvering around this point empowers you to execute controlled turns, preventing unexpected collisions and jackknifing.
6. Take Advantage of Technology
Modern vehicles are equipped with advanced technology. Leverage features like backup cameras and proximity sensors to enhance your spatial awareness and facilitate precise backing maneuvers.
7. Conduct Regular Training Sessions
Continuous improvement is the hallmark of a skilled driver. Regularly engage in training sessions to refine your backing skills and stay abreast of industry best practices.
8. Prioritize Communication with Team Members
In team operations, effective communication is non-negotiable. Establish clear signals and protocols for communicating with spotters or fellow drivers, ensuring a coordinated effort in challenging backing scenarios.
9. Understand Trailer Swing Dynamics
Comprehending how a trailer swings during backing is crucial. Anticipate the swing to prevent collisions with obstacles on either side, enhancing your overall control and precision.
10. Practice Parking in Different Environments
Variety is the key to mastery. Practice backing in different scenarios, including parking lots, loading docks, and confined spaces. Exposure to diverse environments hones your skills for real-world applications.
11. Maintain a Cool Demeanor Under Pressure
Backing situations can be stressful. Cultivate the ability to stay calm under pressure, allowing you to make informed decisions and execute precise maneuvers even in challenging conditions.
12. Document Incidents for Continuous Improvement
Learning from experiences is pivotal. Keep a record of backing incidents, analyzing them to identify areas for improvement. This commitment to continuous learning ensures you evolve as a proficient and safety-conscious truck driver.
We hope you’ve found our backing and driving techniques useful. If you’re ever in West Houston or Katy, Texas and need a safe place to park your truck our secure storage facility has many spaces available to rent by the day, week, month, or year. Contact us for more information or visit our website to book and pay for your truck parking spot online today or use the form below to ask a question!