Parking a Tractor Trailer
A driver parking a tractor trailer perfectly the first time is not something that is common. Here are a few tips to help drivers to learn the ropes of parking a tractor trailer. Take it slow and do not rush, no matter the circumstances.
Preview the Parking Area
When looking for a good place to park a tractor trailer, make sure to preview the area in which you wish to park. Look for cars, dumpsters, pedestrians, other trucks, power lines, etc. Any of these things could make it more difficult for a driver to park their truck.
Check Your Mirrors
Poorly adjusted mirrors could result in a driver losing perspective while parking. This makes it harder for a driver to gauge the distance between vehicles and other obstructions. Always double check your blind spots. Larger vehicles may have an additionally mirror mounted to the body of the vehicle to improve visibility. Check these mirrors regularly. Always keep your eyes moving. Do not fixate on one mirror as there are multiple sides of the vehicle that a driver must watch while parking.
Look at Your Steering Wheel
The top of the steering wheel is the truck and the bottom of the steering wheel is the trailer. While backing, when you turn the steering wheel to the right the top goes right, and the bottom goes left. This means your trailer will go left. If you turn your steering wheel to the left, the bottom of the steering wheel will go to the right. This means the trailer will go right.
Look at Your Tandems
Don’t just focus on the trailer. If there are lines on the pavement you can just them to help you judge your angles.
Use a Spotter
When selecting a spotter, always be sure that they are a truck driver. Someone who has never driven a tractor trailer has no idea how to back up a trailer and could do more harm than good.
Avoid Having to Back Up
The best way to not have a backing accident is to not back up if you absolutely do not have to. A driver can avoid backing up by planning and parking in spaces that they can pull through. This will save time and minimize the risk of hitting something.
Watch Your Tires and Axles
Focus on the axles and where they are going. It sounds easy, but new drivers tend to focus on the rear of the trailer too much.
Get the Attention of Others
Make your vehicle visible by turning on your hazards. Sound your horn to get the attention of people around.
Get out and look. Get out of the truck and look where you need to back up. Walk around the entire unit. Stand in spotter position, 20-25 feet in front and diagonal to the passenger side tractor bumper. Look at the parking spot, the blind side, the area that the tractor will use while backing, and any area that you cannot see.
Avoid Overshoot or Undercutting your Turn
Maneuver the tractor trailer as far away from the parking spot as you are able. The more space you must approach, the easier it will be for you to straighten your back end and pull into the spot. Cut your wheel hard in the direction of the spot you are parking. You will want the front end of the truck to enter the spot as straight as possible.
Straighten the Tractor Trailer
Pull the tractor trailer front end close to the vehicles next to the spot in which you are parking. Put the tractor trailer in reverse and straighten it to line up with your spot as much as possible.
To get a feel for how your trailer moves and reacts to your driving. No two drivers are the same and what works for you will not necessarily work for someone else.