Backing Tips

Topic 32297 | Page 2

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BK's Comment
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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.

Turtle, that’s interesting about coming in a a 6’ distance. I was taught to come in at a 3’ distance. I’m going to try it your way and see how it works out.

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".

Dennis L's Comment
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I appreciate Turtles and Nae Nae’s comment. The 45 Alley Dock was my best docking option while I was driving.

I was also taught 3’ out rather than 6’. However, I found this dock troublesome when I didn’t have much room in front to maneuver and I was too far out. I would scrub the back and reposition to start over.

I agree with staying tight on the sight side and to GoAL the blind side.

Turtle's Comment
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Turtle, that’s interesting about coming in a a 6’ distance. I was taught to come in at a 3’ distance. I’m going to try it your way and see how it works out.

That's too close for my comfort, because when you make that first hard right turn to 12 o'clock you run a danger of your tail swing slapping a truck to your left.

3 ft, 6 ft, there really is no magic number. Each set up maybe slightly different.

BK's Comment
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double-quotes-start.png

Turtle, that’s interesting about coming in a a 6’ distance. I was taught to come in at a 3’ distance. I’m going to try it your way and see how it works out.

double-quotes-end.png

That's too close for my comfort, because when you make that first hard right turn to 12 o'clock you run a danger of your tail swing slapping a truck to your left.

3 ft, 6 ft, there really is no magic number. Each set up maybe slightly different.

Turtle, that makes sense. Many of my loads require the tandems to be all the way up front or close to it. So tail swing is something I worry about. I’m probably lucky that I’ve never hit anybody with the tail swing.

Tandems:

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".

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".

Pianoman's Comment
member avatar

In addition to the great advice others have offered on here, I’m going to take a wild guess (sorry didn’t read all the comments so maybe you already said this) that part of your struggle is when you come in too close to the truck on the sight side your trailer overhang gets you into trouble. If that’s the case the problem isn’t that you’re coming in too close to the truck on your sight side but rather that you’re too close to the spot when you initially drive by it for your setup. It depends on where your tandems are but if your tandems are pretty far forward you need some distance from the spot when initially driving past it. If your tandems are further back or all the way back you want to be closer to the spot when driving past it. It took me a while to learn this. Either way with the proper setup it’s actual better to be as close as possible to the truck on your sight side (when backing up not during setup) because it lowers the risk of striking the truck on your blind side.

Hopefully that makes sense. I always have a hard time trying to describe backing without being able to demonstrate

Tandems:

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".

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 would literally kill to have a workshop day where I just sit with someone experienced at teaching good setup habits. Once I get a solid setup, I am fine. I don't have trouble once I get my truck into the spot without getting too close to the truck on my sight side. I also sometimes over angle to where I no longer have enough room to chase the tractor without posing a risk of popping something with the front of my tractor. I am like RIGHT THERE when it comes to getting it right. It is just annoying because I use to back cars up in tight spaces all the time in my old tow truck. So I know how to back. It is just trying to find those sweet spot setups that allow me to follow the trailer into said space. I just backed into a spot last night with my tandems all the way back at the IWI-King Soopers frozen warehouse in Denver. They don't have a ton of room on the east side of the building for catching up to the trailer so I had to do a crazy 90 degree turn that took a few attempts.

I guess ultimately, I do get the truck where I want it eventually. And I am over protecting of not doing any damage. I consider my situational awareness to be solid due to my past life operating a tow truck. I just think I would really benefit from having an experienced trainer work with me for a couple hours. I really feel like I am probably doing something minor that is causing me issues. I also get maybe back a small number of times per week due to being OTR. I don't bump nearly as many docks as LTL or local drivers. I very rarely have problems at shipper/receivers. My main issue is truck stops. I purposely try to end my day between 2pm - 4pm to ensure I have ample selection wherever I stop for the night. But I know that eventually, I will have to get good at this. I've been on the job but a couple of months now. So I am still very green. But I don't want that to be an excuse.

In addition to the great advice others have offered on here, I’m going to take a wild guess (sorry didn’t read all the comments so maybe you already said this) that part of your struggle is when you come in too close to the truck on the sight side your trailer overhang gets you into trouble. If that’s the case the problem isn’t that you’re coming in too close to the truck on your sight side but rather that you’re too close to the spot when you initially drive by it for your setup. It depends on where your tandems are but if your tandems are pretty far forward you need some distance from the spot when initially driving past it. If your tandems are further back or all the way back you want to be closer to the spot when driving past it. It took me a while to learn this. Either way with the proper setup it’s actual better to be as close as possible to the truck on your sight side (when backing up not during setup) because it lowers the risk of striking the truck on your blind side.

Hopefully that makes sense. I always have a hard time trying to describe backing without being able to demonstrate

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.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Tandems:

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".

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".

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Practice, practice and more practice. It’s the best teacher by far! Although our friend Moe backs only when necessary, if you really want to improve, don’t miss an opportunity for additional reps.

About the 6-9 month point of experience, things will get easier and smoother. In the meantime, take your time, GOAL before you commit to a setup and avoid the temptation to over-steer when making adjustments (smaller is better).

I’m of the Turtle School of thought when it comes to backing… all feel. But keep in mind… repetitions, hundreds of them is what it takes to get to that point.

Good luck.

BK's Comment
member avatar

That advice from Turtle and Pianoman about staying farther out from the other trucks as you do the set up is golden. I tried it yesterday at a delivery and it did help me and I liked it. I’m going to put that set up in practice every time I can.

And I’ve been to the lot on the east side of King Stupers in Denver. Frozen food docks. It is tight, no doubt about it. I don’t think 10’ out would work in that lot, but next time I go I’ll see about it.

BK's Comment
member avatar

Oops, I said 10’. I meant 6’. I got my tongue over my eye tooth and I couldn’t see what I was saying.

confused.gif confused.gif

Drew D.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks G-town and everyone else for that matter. I really appreciate you guys not being judgmental about this topic. My goal is to be safe AND effective.

And yeah, that frozen side of King Soopers was fun. I did a pickup at Cargill in Charlotte last week that was super tight and nailed it on one try. I just want to get more consistent but I understand that it will take time.

Practice, practice and more practice. It’s the best teacher by far! Although our friend Moe backs only when necessary, if you really want to improve, don’t miss an opportunity for additional reps.

About the 6-9 month point of experience, things will get easier and smoother. In the meantime, take your time, GOAL before you commit to a setup and avoid the temptation to over-steer when making adjustments (smaller is better).

I’m of the Turtle School of thought when it comes to backing… all feel. But keep in mind… repetitions, hundreds of them is what it takes to get to that point.

Good luck.

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