Learning to drive a semi-truck can be a daunting task. Among the different driving skills new truckers need to learn, backing is often the one that causes the most anxiety. If you’re worried about semi-truck backing, you definitely aren’t alone. This skill takes time to develop, but with consistent effort, it’s possible to learn how to safely and effectively back a semi-truck.
Here are some tips for mastering semi-truck backing:
While tips and tricks can help you learn, there’s only so much progress you can make in your driving from reading about it. At the end of the day, you need to get out and practice these skills in order to develop them. Commercial driver’s license (CDL) training programs include time behind the wheel and if you need extra time to practice backing, try talking to your instructor to see if they can accommodate this.
2. Pay Attention While Others Are Backing
Most CDL programs include a mix of time where you are driving and time when you are in the cab observing while another student drives. In order to get the most out of your training, it’s important to actively pay attention even when you’re not the one behind the wheel. You can learn a great deal by seeing what works and what doesn’t for others.
3. Use Your Steering Wheel to Determine the Direction of the Trailer
This trick can help you remember how your trailer will move when you are backing up. If you have your left hand at the bottom of the steering wheel, the direction you move this hand is the direction the trailer will move. For example, if you move the bottom of the wheel to the left, the trailer will move to the left while you’re backing. This is reversed if your hand is at the top of the steering wheel.
4. Get Out and Look (GOAL)
Don’t rely solely on what you can see from inside your cab. It’s important to get out of your truck and look at the area you are backing into and what is around it. This allows you to get a more complete picture of what is behind you. For the CDL skills test, you can have a certain number of “GOALs” in order to pass, but this isn’t the case when you’re out on the road. On the job, don’t let embarrassment stop you from getting out as many times as you need. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and others will understand.
5. Ask For Help When You Need It
This tip applies during training and beyond. While you’re in the process of earning your CDL, ask for help from your instructors. They have extensive experience helping students master backing, and will have some tips and tricks to help you get it down. On the road, ask for spotters if you need it when backing into a tough space. Once you have experience under your belt, you can return the favor.
Truck Driving School in Phoenix, AZ
If you’re ready to become a truck driver, Phoenix Truck Driving Institute can help. We offer high-quality CDL training and can help you earn your license in as little as four weeks.