So you have big dreams of buying a semi-truck and heading out on the open road with a brand new trucking career. Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Before you can even think about buying your own semi and starting your career, you first have to obtain your commercial driver's license, or CDL. Getting your CDL can be a grueling process, and you will quickly learn that driving a large semi-truck is a lot different than driving your car down the road. One of the biggest things that you will have to get used to is learning how to back up your semi-truck for the portion of the CDL that tests your skills in this area. There are a number of different back-up maneuvers that you will be tested for, as well as a few tips to help you learn to back up like a pro.
Methods Of Backing Up
In order to learn to back up effectively, you first need to know the different types of backing up that are commonly used by truck drivers:
- Straight Backing Up - This is basically what it sounds like, backing up in a straight line. For the CDL backing up test you will be required to pull forward through a line of cones, and then drive straight back without hitting the cones. This is a fairly simple maneuver, but still takes some getting used to doing with a large truck.
- Offset Backing Up - Offset backing up is a bit like straight backing up, only although you begin by backing up straight, you are required to back up into a different lane either on the right or left side of the main lane that you are in so that you end up straight within that lane.
- Alley Docking - This type of backing up is perhaps the hardest of all. For this type of backing up you must pull forward, then back into a specific spot, usually at a 90 degree angle to the left. During your CDL test, you must back into this spot that is surrounded completely by cones without knocking them over.
Of course, nothing will help you become a pro like constant practice, but keep this advice in mind while you are learning to help improve your learning process:
- Get a Feel For the Truck - Nothing will help you more than spending a lot of time driving a semi-truck for practice. The more familiar you become with a semi-truck, the easier any sort of maneuvers will be. Spending time driving a semi-truck will make you familiar with the tightness or looseness of the steering, it's braking and accelerating thresholds, as well as its range of motion.
- Embrace Your Mistakes - Instead of panicking when you make mistakes and immediately removing them from your mind, embrace them. Examine your mistakes and determine what the steps were that preceded them, the conditions, and anything else that you can observe. Observing the conditions of your mistakes will help prevent you from making them in the future.
- Take Mental Notes of What Contributes to Success - When you do something correctly, you should also observe the conditions, just like when you make mistakes. Figure out the methods you used when you did something right. Were you sitting a certain way? Was your truck lined up with the cones or lanes a certain way? Did you use a certain amount of force while steering? Paying attention to these things will help you replicate your success.
Getting used to driving such a large vehicle, especially learning how to safely and properly perform difficult maneuvers like backing up, can be stressful. Learn the different methods of backing up, keep these tips in mind, and ask your instructor if you have any questions. Before you know it you will be out on the open road, driving your own truck from a place like Arrow Truck Sales, with your CDL in hand.