You’d Better Back Up While I Try Backing Up
In my experience of regular – non-truck – driving, there’s two things people don’t do very well: parallel parking and backing up. Then there’s all the stuff they simply fail to do, like looking both ways at an intersection and always signalling before a turn or lane chance. But I’m not here to rant.
In the business of operating a tractor-trailer, parallel parking is something you’ll do once in a while, I’m told. But backing up is a daily occurrence. You have to reverse into a loading dock every time you deliver goods to your destination. Being proficient at it isn’t just a good thing; it’s essential.
And it’s hard to do. Consider how long a tractor-trailer is: a combined @ 65-71 feet. Bear in mind that you have two separate units joined only by a steel pin and a coupling device. Obviously, you’ll never master this on your first day of trying. I definitely didn’t.
I don’t think I was horrible at backing up, although my more experienced co-trainee Eric might disagree. As might the two instructors who were looking on. The purpose of training is to work together to make everyone a good driver. So, they may have decided to encourage me and not tell the truth: ‘You suck at backing up.’
They didn’t have to tell me anything. I did suck at it. But it was day one of reversing for me. I’d never backed up anything bigger than a small U-Haul truck and that was many years ago. Continue reading