How to Back up a Tractor Trailer

Backing up a tractor-trailer is no easy task. With the proper practice and know how, you can ease your fears about driving a big rig. Since the vehicle is such a large one, it is particularly important that you always remain very aware of your surroundings and the impact of the size of the truck you are driving. Backing up the truck is the most challenging part of driving a tractor trailer and even the most seasoned truck driver will admit to struggling every now and then.

Step 1
The first step is to decide where you want to back up and keep driving right on past the target area while keeping the destination on the driver’s side. Don’t be afraid to drive around if you need to get the best possible angle. Pull past the target by three trailer lengths.

Step 2
Start backing straight up until the end of your trailer is even with your target area. Put the truck in neutral and apply the air brake. This is your chance to get out and check the area for pedestrians and other vehicles. If you are riding with a passenger or co-pilot this could be their job. Once you have checked and are all clear, you can proceed to the next step.

Step 3
The next step is to release the brakes, turn the wheel in the opposite direction of your target destination and check your mirrors again for obstacles. Shift the truck into reverse and let out the clutch. Use the driver’s side mirror to watch the back end of the trailer also keeping in mind to quickly glance at the passenger mirror to look for obstructions. Keep the steering wheel in the opposite position from where you want the truck to go.

Step 4
Once you are around the area you want to be you can pull forward and back straight up as many times as you need until you are happy with the location of the trailer or if you are too close to an object on either side.

Final Tips to Remember…
Some points to remember about backing up a tractor trailer are:

1. Always check your mirrors
2. Keep things moving slow and steady

No one is in a rush nor should anyone be, these are big rigs and need to be handled with care and have as much precision as possible, no false moves. Don’t feel pressure or lack confidence. If you need to, remember you can always pull out, go around the block or building and start again. Also remember that you do have trucking insurance for a reason should any problems arise but use every precaution possible to avoid having to use it.

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