Trailer Backing: Techniques and Tight Maneuvers

Many veteran truck drivers have spent thousands of hours behind the wheel honing their trailer backing skills and continue to learn every day. Backing skills that many may take for granted can be a challenge for someone new to the industry and just getting their driving career off the ground.

Backing Challenge

Last month Driver Training Instructor, Ross Christensen, took two office employees who have never driven semi and taught them how to back. Each employee was guided through our Accelerate Training Program course and given the opportunity to park their trailer in-between two tractor-trailers. Both employees were able to complete the assignment safely and incident-free by following the procedures and instructions of our Driver Training Instructor.

Watch the Backing Challenge video below:

Procedures to Follow When Trailer Backing

In reality, the life of a truck driver includes many docks and deliveries that require backing a large vehicle into a narrow opening. When faced with a situation that requires backing the following are a few procedures to follow to ensure a safe outcome.

  • Size up the situation as you approach and start developing your plan.
Trailer Backing - Develop Your Plan
  • Turn on your fourways to make your vehicle more visible to others and alert them to be cautious.
Trailer Backing Turn on Your Fourways
  • Roll down your windows, turn off the radio, and any other distractions. You need to hear clearly and focus on the task at hand.
Trailer Backing Roll Down Your Windows
  • Set your brakes and Get Out and Look – G.O.A.L – for any hazards around, above, behind, and below your truck. Make sure to pay attention to the path you will be backing along behind the vehicle. Check for overhead wires and low overhangs.
Trailer Backing Get Out And Look
  • Make sure your tandems are properly positioned.
Trailer Backing Check Your Tandems
  • Open your doors. Nothing is much more aggravating than successfully completing a backing maneuver and then realizing your trailer doors are still shut.
Trailer Backing Open Your Doors
  • Check your mirrors frequently for hazards behind you – situations can change quickly.
Check Your Mirrors
  • Don’t delay backing once checks are complete and use the G.O.A.L. process as often as needed.
  • Use a spotter. A spotter is a person who watches your trucks as you are backing and guides you safely into position.
Use a Spotter


Utilizing the above procedures will help ensure safe backing. There is no substitute for practice to become a backing pro. Backing is a skill that is acquired over time. It may be frustrating at times, but remember even the grizzled old veterans struggled when they first started. Keep working on it and soon it’ll be second nature to you too!