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How To Back Up A Tractor Trailer/Backing A Semi

Updated on July 3, 2013

How To Back Up A Tractor Trailer

If you are trying to learn how to drive a tractor trailer, the hardest thing to do is back it up correctly. There are many tips that I can offer you, to help you back up a tractor trailer. First, watch other drivers back up their tractor trailer. You can learn a lot by watching them, and pay good attention to all the details. If the tractor trailer is equipped with a clutch, don't ride it. Riding the clutch tires out your leg, and a hot clutch will make the truck jump and and make backing up the tractor trailer a real pain. If you are not sure what is behind you, a good rule to follow is always get out and look. It only takes a minute, and will prevent you from hitting something with the tractor trailer. Always role down your window. This will allow you to be able to look out the window if you need to when backing up your tractor trailer. Also when the window is down, you will be able to hear if someone is yelling for you to stop, or if someone is blowing their horn. This will help prevent accidents when backing up your tractor trailer. Always make sure your mirrors are adjusted so you can see behind you, and that the radio is turned off. The less the distraction the better. Before backing always put on your flashers and honk your horn.

Backing Up A Tractor Trailer, Is It Really That Hard ?

Start the backing up maneuver by consistently remembering that the backing up sequence in a tractor trailer is exactly opposite of backing up a car. Everything is opposite. If you want your trailer to swing some to the right, you must turn your steering wheel to the left, and if you want your tractor trailer to swing to the left you must turn your steering wheel to the right.

Choose A Target Point When Backing Up A Tractor Trailer

When backing up a tractor trailer choose a target point where you would like the cab of your tractor trailer to be sitting when you are finished. If the tractor and the trailer are to be straight with each other, this is called straight reverse. If the tractor is at an angle with the trailer this is called jacked configuration.

Chase The Front Of The Trailer With Your Tractor When Backing

Always chase the front of your trailer with your tractor. This is done by turning the steering wheel in the opposite direction of the trailer intended movement, and then back in the same direction as the intended trailer movement. The back and forth movement will help you correct the tractor and trailer alignment. This will unfortunately make it harder for you to put the tractor trailer in the exact spot you would like. Over correcting and over steering is the number one mistake most rookies make when starting out.

Rear View Mirrors Only Show Part Of The Picture When Backing Up A Tractor Trailer

Rear view mirrors only show the rear of the trailer when backing up in the straight configuration. When backing a tractor trailer it is important to also us the bug mirrors. These are the dome shaped mirrors that are attached to the rear view mirrors. They will help you see the sides of the trailer when in the jacked configuration. Pay attention to your mirrors and remember where all obstacles are when the disappear from your mirrors site.

Monitor The Roof Of The Trailer When Backing Up A Tractor Trailer

Always monitor the roof of your trailer when backing, so to avoid hitting hanging power lines, or parts of the building that protrude outwards or downwards. Avoid striking anything hanging down. Back slowly, correct as needed, take your time and put the trailer bumper in the desired target spot, then stop.


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      Hank 3 years ago

      Hi what about to back up a trailer that has turning wheels in the front. I know you have to turn left if you want the tires to turn left but I have a super hard time getting my truck back on course with it. I'm not sure what the trailer type is called. It has a long triangle neck, That is much like a military vehicle.