Backing Up

The thoughts of backing up a big truck tends to be a little intimidating to people thinking of becoming a trucker.  Don't worry about it. You will be taught backing up principles when you go through your training for CDL. If you should have difficulty, there is no need to worry, that is the case for most at first. Some catch on quickly and others take some time.

When I was in trucking school, there was a guy that no one thought would ever learn to back the tractor and trailer up. He failed several times before we ever left the class.

When we left the class he was still trying to pass the backing test. I talked to one of his friends weeks later and found out that he was driving for USA Truck.

Even he eventually learned to back up the truck and soon after got a trucking job.

Tips for Backing Up

Many incidents or accidents occur while new drivers are backing up. These tips for backing up are similar to tips for learning anything else new.

  • Realize that you are normal. No one was borne knowing how to back up a big truck. Some pick it up quick, some take a little longer. Don't wonder if you can learn it, the answer is yes you can. How long it takes is how long it takes.
  • When the time comes simply breathe slowly and deeply in and out. This is not a joke or to be taken lightly. It actually creates a physiological change in the body. It's why meditation works to relieve stress and achieve other benefits. Do it and....
  • Visualize yourself backing up like a pro. Touching no cones or hitting no curbs. You are backing it a straight line with no troubles. You are doing blind sides and 90 degree backing to the dock as well as parralel parking with no troubles. That is you. Imagine it down to the color of what you are wearing and the smell of deisel.
  • Mentally prepare by telling yourself, "I will learn backing up just like I learned how to ride a bike, or like I learned to swim, or like I learn to drive a car for the first time." Think of all the new things that you have learned. This proves to yourself that it is doable. So assume already that you are able and it just takes going through the motions of perfecting the skill.
  • Pay attention and be present. If you relax and focus on instruction, not on messing up or what if... you can pick up the process quicker from the trainer. Be aware of how much you turn and at what point in relationship to the positioning of the tractor and trailer. One thing you will notice is that there is a certain point at which small corrections will be easier to control than waiting late and having to do major corrections.
  • Do not give up on yourself. Do not get discouraged. You will pick this up as long as you stay at it. It's a lot easier than you assume. It's only when you are anxious and rush that you miss a beat.
  • Practice makes perfect so do it often. When you have free time practice. I don't know if they will let you do this at the trucking school but once you get on the road, if you are at the truck stop early or at a dock where no one minds, practice backing to the dock or into the parking space.
  • Get out and look as often as needed. People may laugh, point, talk trash on the CD or just shake their heads. So what. They had to do the same thing when they started. Some of them still can't back up in tight situations, just look and you will see them. Never let what others may think of you being careful keep you from being careful. Get out and check as often as you need to. Just remember to pay attention so that you can constantly improve. You will eventually have to get out less and less.


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Other forum posts about backing up

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I'm bouncing my tractor when shift gears 
When I'm backing up into a door, yes I get nervous. The nervousness is getting better. But what isn't is bouncing/shaking my tractor. Am I using too …

Practice will improve your backing skills 
Backing an 18-wheeler is just like backing anything else up. Remember learning how to parallel park a car? Anything easy or intuitive about that? We learn …

backing up a truck 
My worry is backing the trailer in difficult places or really just backing up at all!

turning truck into a place and can not get out 
i am getting ready to go to school and have a fear of being someplace on the other side of the country in a big city somewhere where i could possibly make …

Some good info here Not rated yet
I like this just like everything in trucking remain teachable at all times. Don't drink a lot of caffeine either. relax

A little steering over a long period is better then a lot all at once. Not rated yet
I learned from a great instructor. He was able to tune into a persons' personality very quickly and explain things in a way that each student understood …

Have patience and backing will get easier Not rated yet
Take your time and it will eventually become natural.

Backing in at peace, rather than under stress.  Not rated yet
Like many have said, practice whenever possible, like don't take easy spots, use them for practice. Local jobs make you practice because of the multiple …

How I learned backing up a tractor trailer Not rated yet
I learned to back by. Watching the seasoned drivers and doing what they did

Get out and look! Not rated yet
I'd like to add to the get out and look. I have been driving for 16 yrs and have been a trainer for 10 yrs. I still get out and look. I work with guys …

kwaku's trucking  Not rated yet
when looking in the driver side mirror, if the trailer is out of sight turn the steering wheel to the right. some thing I learned fro cdl of ga.

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