Reversing a Truck and Trailer: Training to Avoid a Common Accident

Reversing a truck and trailer doesn't need to cause a lot of accidents. Train drivers to back up and dock safely.

Reversing a truck and trailer doesn’t need to cause a lot of accidents. Train drivers to back up and dock safely.

Backing and docking the trailer and truck cause more accidents than anything on the open road. Luckily, they tend to be low-speed and thus, not too costly. But the sheer number tends to add up. Reversing a truck and trailer doesn’t need to be a problem for your fleet. With good training and an emphasis on safety, your truck fleet can reduce backing and docking accidents.

There are three primary causes of crashes when reversing a truck and trailer: visibility, speed and space. Visibility — or lack thereof — is the biggest, so that’s the section of this 21-chapter lesson we’ve previewed for you, below.

Obviously, visibility is critical and at a premium when backing a truck and trailer. First, there’s that pesky trailer in the way. But when you start turning the trailer, you lose your sight lines on the blind side. Because of that, we recommend always setting up the truck for straight-line backing.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The easiest way to deal with the 30-foot blindspot is to simply
Get
Out
And
Look

It’s critical to communicate and emphasize the G.O.A.L. method to drivers. Honestly, it’s just common sense. But put yourself in their seat for a moment: After a sometimes long drive, and then a stressful route over surface streets, then squeezing through a possibly busy parking lot, they’re finally set up to start backing. They want to be done. They’re already thinking about paperwork and who to speak with at the delivery. Now is the time they need to stop, take a moment, hop out and look at where they’re backing. It will literally take them 60-90 seconds.

Here’s another line to help them to remember: you never want your tires to cover ground that your eyes haven’t covered first.

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