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Backing a truck is one of the most difficult and dangerous maneuvers to perform. The National Safety Counsel states that one out of every four truck related accidents can be blamed on pour backing technique and backing related accidents cause 500 deaths and 1500 injuries per year (US statistics).
Backing is absolutely frustrating for new commercial truck drivers. Even when you’re taught the proper way to do it, it’s something that you need to get a feel of through repetition; you learn by doing your reps.
Like everything in trucking, the most important thing is to make safety your priority. Backing accidents can cause death and injury, and even when they don’t, backing accidents are costly.
- Know what’s happening in the area at all times. Know where other vehicles are and keep in mind of the points where pedestrians may enter the scene. If any vehicles start to move or people appear you need to know immediately. Situations change in an instant. Don’t assume that the people around you know what you’re doing, where you’re going, or are even aware you’re there. If you don’t know what another vehicle or person around you is doing – stop and communicate with them.
- Look for obstructions and hazards in and around the spot in which you’re backing. Obstructions, tight spaces, and other trucks is a recipe for a costly fender-bender.
- Check the spot you’re backing into. Check your clearance on either side of the space you’re backing into and check for low canopies, pallets, or other obstructions in your spot.
- Try to back from your view side as much as possible.
- If you’re unsure if you’re getting too close to something while backing, stop, get out, and check. No harm at all in pulling up to adjust your position – even seasoned veterans get out and look.
- Always back out of traffic and not into traffic; this includes backing into parking spots so you can pull forward out of the spot and backing off the road so you can pull forward out of a lot and into traffic.
- Make a plan. Think about your set up and where the room is that you can use for backing up into your spot.
- Take it slow. It’s not a race and you have nothing to prove to anyone. Your job as a professional is to get it done safely.
- On a side note, make sure your wheels are chocked when they’re provided and dynamite your trailer breaks when loading and unloading.
You are responsible for safety at all times. Being accident free is no accident – it’s good habits, being safety minded, and focused at all times.