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How should you drive a commercial vehicle in reverse?

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Backing a commercial vehicle is always dangerous. You cannot see as well and you have less control over your vehicle. 

To properly back a commercial vehicle:

  • Start in the proper position that allows you to back as easily as possible. 
  • Get out and observe your backing path before you begin. Check clearance and the path you’ll need to take. 
  • Use your mirrors on both sides while backing up. 
  • Always reverse a commercial vehicle as slowly as possible using the lowest reverse gear.This way, you’ll have a greater ability to correct and steer errors and stop as quickly as possible. 
  • Back and turn towards the driver side of the vehicle to give you more sight and control. 
  • Use a spotter or a helper who can help direct you and watch your blind spots. 

If you’re able to, you should try to park in ways that will allow you to pull forward instead of backing up when you’re ready to leave.

What should you do when you are backing a trailer?

When backing with a trailer, you’ll turn your steering wheel in the opposite direction than if you were backing a car, straight truck, or bus. 

To make the trailer go right, you turn the wheel to the left.

To make the trailer go left, you turn the wheel to the right. 

Once the trailer begins to turn, you’ll need to turn the wheel to follow the trailer. 

Whenever possible, try to position your vehicle in a way that you’ll be able to back up in a straight line. If you have to turn, try to back towards the driver’s side. 

The proper way to back-up a commercial vehicle with a trailer involves:

  • Checking your path before you get in the vehicle.
  • Using both mirrors. 
  • Backing up slowly. 
  • Correcting any trailer drift immediately. 
  • Pulling forward and repositioning as necessary.

What is a straight line backing maneuver?

A straight line backing maneuver involves backing up without any turning or curves. 

This is the safest way to drive a commercial vehicle or a truck towing a trailer in reverse. 

You can find more information about this topic in the Driving Safely (2) section of your official driver’s handbook. 

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