What CDL-A Drivers Should Know About Backing Up

Post Date - Mar 31, 2023

If you struggle with backing up your semi, you aren’t alone. Figuring out the mechanics of successfully reversing an 18-wheeler is one of the most challenging tasks for truck drivers to master. To help ease your frustrations, Boyd Bros. has gathered some helpful advice from fellow CDL-A drivers.

Five need to know tips:

  1. Practice! A huge part of backing up successfully is being comfortable with all the steps it takes. Drivers have recommended finding an empty lot and working on your technique there.
  2. Hand placement. A truck driver on a popular online community shared a hack on where to place your hand when backing up: “Put your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel and grab it like you were giving a fist pump (i.e., palm of hand under the wheel with fingers wrapped around it). The trailer will now turn whichever way you move your hand.”
  3. Observe other drivers. While it can be nerve-wracking to be on the other end of this, one CDL-A driver posted a photo of themselves eating a bowl of popcorn at a popular truck stop with the caption: “Ready for the 5 p.m. scramble lol. My backing skills need work, so I sit and observe.”
  4. Use spotters. Getting outside assistance when learning how to back up can be helpful as you focus on the movements you need to make inside of the cab. Always be sure to check the outside conditions for yourself though!
  5. G.O.A.L. To relieve the fear of possibly colliding with something and making your backing up process even more stressful, Get Out and Look! You’ll be able to reverse with a much clearer perspective on what the area looks like, simplifying the process hugely!

The secret to backing up:

Is there a foolproof secret to backing up your truck? Here’s what one driver had to say: “You can back up 10 times perfectly in one shot, but on the eleventh time, it will take you 20 minutes and five different tries as if you’ve never backed in a day in your life. This is just plain hard sometimes, there is no trick.”

If there’s one thing drivers can agree on when backing, it’s that it’s difficult and will take some time to get a handle on! One professional driver shared that when they’re trying to back up their semi, they feel like “the world just likes playing tricks on us.”

If you’re really looking for the secret to backing, the most shared advice from professional drivers was to get set up properly, take your time, and G.O.A.L. And, according to one truck driver, having a few years of experience doesn’t hurt. “The trick is experience, which translates to learning the feeling of the turning point versus the pushing point on the king pin.”

Boyd Bros. doesn’t just help our drivers with learning how to back, we also get them lifelong truck driving careers. Connect with our team to learn more about our driving opportunities!