Backing Tips

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Drew D.'s Comment
member avatar

Hey all,

Been solo for a few months now and things are going very well.

The only thing I am inconsistent on is backing. Particularly at truck stops.

I understand how the trailer reacts and which way to turn the wheel etc.

My issues come from my setups. I feel like I either overshoot or undershoot my spot and I end up overcompensating with too much angle.

I also find myself getting alittle too close to the truck on my sight side. Once I do this, I struggle with correcting this situation to where I put enough gap between my sight truck without sending my DOT bumper into the blindside truck door.

I have been told to turn off to 12 oclock after you pass your spot and 1 truck and I have been told 2 trucks. The advice I have gotten has been helpful, but I am struggling to get that perfect setup that allows for a nice smooth back.

Any tips and help would be greatly appreciated as this is my Achilles heel at the moment.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Moe's Comment
member avatar

Drew,

For backing, the best rule is don’t do it if you don’t have to. I’m with Marten transport and that is actually one of the best advices safety gave us. If you really struggle with backing at truck stops (many are designed too tight) then try to find a clean pull through or straight back. There’s nothing wrong with looking for the low hanging fruit, I’ve been driving close to 18 months now and I still look for clean pull throughs etc, especially after a long day when I’m dog tired. I’ll tell you that TA, Kwik Trips (MN And WI mainly) and SAPP Bros (midwest in WY, NB and KS mainly) are all great truck stops and typically designed better than Pilot and some Loves. Ironically I am seeing improvements on some of the newer truck stops from the last two I mentioned, perhaps insurance companies were getting on them who knows?

Often times however rule #1 isn’t practical, I’ll typically go 1.5 trucks past my intended spot for a setup and try to straight back it if I can. If I can’t straight back it then I’ll pull past my chosen space turn the wheel left to put some bend in the trailer and 90 it inside. Provided you have enough space in front of you as you swing you should be able to make pull ups as needed to get the bend out etc and safely work it in there.

The only thing I didn’t read from your post was GOALing (get out and look) you should be doing that anytime you get in a tight spot at a truck stop or receiver, for me even the simple act of getting out walking around and getting a quick mental refresh helps me get my mind in the right place.

I always like to have a list of truck stops handy near where I pick up or deliver as some are easier than others to navigate.

Hope that helps man, be safe out there

Hey all,

Been solo for a few months now and things are going very well.

The only thing I am inconsistent on is backing. Particularly at truck stops.

I understand how the trailer reacts and which way to turn the wheel etc.

My issues come from my setups. I feel like I either overshoot or undershoot my spot and I end up overcompensating with too much angle.

I also find myself getting alittle too close to the truck on my sight side. Once I do this, I struggle with correcting this situation to where I put enough gap between my sight truck without sending my DOT bumper into the blindside truck door.

I have been told to turn off to 12 oclock after you pass your spot and 1 truck and I have been told 2 trucks. The advice I have gotten has been helpful, but I am struggling to get that perfect setup that allows for a nice smooth back.

Any tips and help would be greatly appreciated as this is my Achilles heel at the moment.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Drew D.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks man,

Yeah I can get into many stops and typically plan my day so that I have "low hanging fruit" as I typically start between 3am - 4am at the latest unless my appointment demands otherwise. I am just trying to get this last bit of know-how dialed in.

I obviously use common sense and do as many pull throughs and straight backs as possible. This goes for shippers/receivers as well.

Drew,

For backing, the best rule is don’t do it if you don’t have to. I’m with Marten transport and that is actually one of the best advices safety gave us. If you really struggle with backing at truck stops (many are designed too tight) then try to find a clean pull through or straight back. There’s nothing wrong with looking for the low hanging fruit, I’ve been driving close to 18 months now and I still look for clean pull throughs etc, especially after a long day when I’m dog tired. I’ll tell you that TA, Kwik Trips (MN And WI mainly) and SAPP Bros (midwest in WY, NB and KS mainly) are all great truck stops and typically designed better than Pilot and some Loves. Ironically I am seeing improvements on some of the newer truck stops from the last two I mentioned, perhaps insurance companies were getting on them who knows?

Often times however rule #1 isn’t practical, I’ll typically go 1.5 trucks past my intended spot for a setup and try to straight back it if I can. If I can’t straight back it then I’ll pull past my chosen space turn the wheel left to put some bend in the trailer and 90 it inside. Provided you have enough space in front of you as you swing you should be able to make pull ups as needed to get the bend out etc and safely work it in there.

The only thing I didn’t read from your post was GOALing (get out and look) you should be doing that anytime you get in a tight spot at a truck stop or receiver, for me even the simple act of getting out walking around and getting a quick mental refresh helps me get my mind in the right place.

I always like to have a list of truck stops handy near where I pick up or deliver as some are easier than others to navigate.

Hope that helps man, be safe out there

double-quotes-start.png

Hey all,

Been solo for a few months now and things are going very well.

The only thing I am inconsistent on is backing. Particularly at truck stops.

I understand how the trailer reacts and which way to turn the wheel etc.

My issues come from my setups. I feel like I either overshoot or undershoot my spot and I end up overcompensating with too much angle.

I also find myself getting alittle too close to the truck on my sight side. Once I do this, I struggle with correcting this situation to where I put enough gap between my sight truck without sending my DOT bumper into the blindside truck door.

I have been told to turn off to 12 oclock after you pass your spot and 1 truck and I have been told 2 trucks. The advice I have gotten has been helpful, but I am struggling to get that perfect setup that allows for a nice smooth back.

Any tips and help would be greatly appreciated as this is my Achilles heel at the moment.

double-quotes-end.png

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Turtle's Comment
member avatar

There are many factors that will affect your setup, and each factor will have its own effect. But here is something you can try that may help you gain more consistency in your backs.

Come in about 6 ft away from the row of trucks you want to park in. You are pointing to 9 o'clock. Roll 1 truck past your spot, when your door is even with the driver side of that next truck, stop and turn hard right until you are at 12 o'clock. Stop and turn hard left until you are at 9 o'clock again. Straighten wheels, reverse until your rear tandem axle hits the imaginary line extending out from the line in your space. Hard left to follow it in the hole.

This setup and execution will get you very close. Obviously you'll have to fine-tune your approach, depending on outside factors.

I'm more of a gut feel kind of backer, preferring not to use any kind of pre-planned setup. But I understand that doesn't work for everybody.

It's better to come in close to the sight side as you do, instead of the opposite. I teach everybody to never try perfectly centering your trailer in the hole every time. That's a recipe for an accident. Come in close to the sight side and use a pull up to adjust after you're in the hole.

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Drew D.'s Comment
member avatar

That makes alot of sense. I'll try it. Thank you very much.

There are many factors that will affect your setup, and each factor will have its own effect. But here is something you can try that may help you gain more consistency in your backs.

Come in about 6 ft away from the row of trucks you want to park in. You are pointing to 9 o'clock. Roll 1 truck past your spot, when your door is even with the driver side of that next truck, stop and turn hard right until you are at 12 o'clock. Stop and turn hard left until you are at 9 o'clock again. Straighten wheels, reverse until your rear tandem axle hits the imaginary line extending out from the line in your space. Hard left to follow it in the hole.

This setup and execution will get you very close. Obviously you'll have to fine-tune your approach, depending on outside factors.

I'm more of a gut feel kind of backer, preferring not to use any kind of pre-planned setup. But I understand that doesn't work for everybody.

It's better to come in close to the sight side as you do, instead of the opposite. I teach everybody to never try perfectly centering your trailer in the hole every time. That's a recipe for an accident. Come in close to the sight side and use a pull up to adjust after you're in the hole.

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

BK's Comment
member avatar

Something that helped me immensely when I went solo was practicing in empty or sparsely populated lots, distribution centers and truck stops during off peak times. And always during daylight. I carried two of the smaller safety cones that I would set up on either side of a spot. No trucks on either side, of course. Then I would do different set ups until I found what I liked and that was repeatable. I no longer carry the cones with me, but I still do practice runs every once in a while. And it is so common to have more trouble backing into spots at truck stops if only because it makes most newer drivers nervous being watched by other drivers. I know I still feel that way.

Ryan B.'s Comment
member avatar

Hey all,

Been solo for a few months now and things are going very well.

The only thing I am inconsistent on is backing. Particularly at truck stops.

I understand how the trailer reacts and which way to turn the wheel etc.

My issues come from my setups. I feel like I either overshoot or undershoot my spot and I end up overcompensating with too much angle.

I also find myself getting alittle too close to the truck on my sight side. Once I do this, I struggle with correcting this situation to where I put enough gap between my sight truck without sending my DOT bumper into the blindside truck door.

I have been told to turn off to 12 oclock after you pass your spot and 1 truck and I have been told 2 trucks. The advice I have gotten has been helpful, but I am struggling to get that perfect setup that allows for a nice smooth back.

Any tips and help would be greatly appreciated as this is my Achilles heel at the moment.

The reality of this is that truck stops and the spaces are irregular. How much space you have for pullups varies greatly. Even worse, trucks parked in the spaces are irregular (not centered, too far forward, different lengths). It really is having a feel for the specific space into which you are trying to back. Also, are the spaces squared up or slanted?

I wish that I could give you something more concrete and specific, but my experience has been that what works backing into a spot one day doesn't seem to work another day. As long as you are not hitting anything and you are not taking so long that a chorus of air horns is serenading you, I would suggest continue to do as you are. Eventually, you will get a natural feel for it and won't have to think much about it. Never stop using G.O.A.L. and trust your own instinct over a stranger offering to be a spotter.

Even after you become fairly proficient with backing, you will have some days that just don't seem as crisp. I actually have found that I am quicker and more efficient with my backing when I have little space with which to work. Give me a wide open row of spaces, and I feel like I am still in school with 9 pullups.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Ryan B.'s Comment
member avatar

Something that helped me immensely when I went solo was practicing in empty or sparsely populated lots, distribution centers and truck stops during off peak times. And always during daylight. I carried two of the smaller safety cones that I would set up on either side of a spot. No trucks on either side, of course. Then I would do different set ups until I found what I liked and that was repeatable. I no longer carry the cones with me, but I still do practice runs every once in a while. And it is so common to have more trouble backing into spots at truck stops if only because it makes most newer drivers nervous being watched by other drivers. I know I still feel that way.

I think it's because there is such a lack of uniformity. When backed up to a dock, every truck goes the same distance back. Trucks are various lengths, but it's not a significant variance. At truck stops, you always have one or two trucks that are sticking out 2-3 feet too far (even with nothing but grass behind). Also, every truck stop is different, as far as the amount of space between parking lanes. Loading docks and the surrounding grounds just have a bit more uniformity, in my opinion.

NaeNaeInNC's Comment
member avatar

This is the exact setup I use. If the path is narrower, I move my first cut almost a full truck length further from my spot. Also, until you get it dialed in, I was taught to full stop before making the big changes.

Pull past my spot. Stop. Crank full right, and then move. Stop. Crank full left, and then move. This gives more control in my opinion.

Also, worth noting, I struggle backing in a Pete, but nail it in the Freightliner. I think the turning radius is significantly different enough that I never got my setup just right.

There are many factors that will affect your setup, and each factor will have its own effect. But here is something you can try that may help you gain more consistency in your backs.

Come in about 6 ft away from the row of trucks you want to park in. You are pointing to 9 o'clock. Roll 1 truck past your spot, when your door is even with the driver side of that next truck, stop and turn hard right until you are at 12 o'clock. Stop and turn hard left until you are at 9 o'clock again. Straighten wheels, reverse until your rear tandem axle hits the imaginary line extending out from the line in your space. Hard left to follow it in the hole.

This setup and execution will get you very close. Obviously you'll have to fine-tune your approach, depending on outside factors.

I'm more of a gut feel kind of backer, preferring not to use any kind of pre-planned setup. But I understand that doesn't work for everybody.

It's better to come in close to the sight side as you do, instead of the opposite. I teach everybody to never try perfectly centering your trailer in the hole every time. That's a recipe for an accident. Come in close to the sight side and use a pull up to adjust after you're in the hole.

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Drew D.'s Comment
member avatar

Yeah I drive a Pete with a large sleeper. My trainer also mentioned Pete's having a different turn radius. I will just keep practicing. Everyone has been very helpful.

This is the exact setup I use. If the path is narrower, I move my first cut almost a full truck length further from my spot. Also, until you get it dialed in, I was taught to full stop before making the big changes.

Pull past my spot. Stop. Crank full right, and then move. Stop. Crank full left, and then move. This gives more control in my opinion.

Also, worth noting, I struggle backing in a Pete, but nail it in the Freightliner. I think the turning radius is significantly different enough that I never got my setup just right.

double-quotes-start.png

There are many factors that will affect your setup, and each factor will have its own effect. But here is something you can try that may help you gain more consistency in your backs.

Come in about 6 ft away from the row of trucks you want to park in. You are pointing to 9 o'clock. Roll 1 truck past your spot, when your door is even with the driver side of that next truck, stop and turn hard right until you are at 12 o'clock. Stop and turn hard left until you are at 9 o'clock again. Straighten wheels, reverse until your rear tandem axle hits the imaginary line extending out from the line in your space. Hard left to follow it in the hole.

This setup and execution will get you very close. Obviously you'll have to fine-tune your approach, depending on outside factors.

I'm more of a gut feel kind of backer, preferring not to use any kind of pre-planned setup. But I understand that doesn't work for everybody.

It's better to come in close to the sight side as you do, instead of the opposite. I teach everybody to never try perfectly centering your trailer in the hole every time. That's a recipe for an accident. Come in close to the sight side and use a pull up to adjust after you're in the hole.

double-quotes-end.png

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

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