Drivers get paid when they back the truck up and often that can be harder than usual due to some unforeseen circumstances involving another driver not knowing proper backing etiquette. There are unspoken rules about how drivers should treat each other during the most vulnerable moments in the backing procedure.
Remember that term your trainer should have taught you in driving school, “Blindside is suicide.” When a driver starts backing up, there’s a lot of real estate in that blindside.
Of course, you should be using GOAL and getting out of the cab to go check your six any time you get a gut feeling something is wrong. Other drivers might snicker at you or even yell, but it’s better to “check, double check, and triple check” before you strike another vehicle.
Use your CB to communicate with others and let them know you’re backing. It’s important to have your CB on in case someone is watching and tries to warn you of danger.
Be the other driver’s second set of eyes
Talking about striking another truck or object, if you see another truck or a co-driver about to hit something while backing up, try to stop the driver before it happens. You got an airhorn, use it! Yeah, you might wake up the neighbors blasting the train horns, but they’ll appreciate not having to hear police sirens.
If possible and safe to do so, get out and help spot the blind side for the other driver. Make sure they can understand you and use universal hand signals if possible. Also, using your CB and even a pair of walkie-talkies with your co-driver or spotter to help communicate makes the process easier and safer.
Be courteous to the backing driver and don’t stress them
Nobody likes a bully. If you’re in a hurry and need to leave immediately, please communicate that with the other driver. Although not in any rulebook I know of, consider the driver backing the trailer to have the right-of-way.
They are highly involved at that moment, having to manage the area, maintain space around the trailer, and keep from hitting a neighboring truck or object. If you just have to pass the driver, blow your horn, make sure they see you and ease past them.
Leave it better than you found it
No one likes having a flat tire when they wake up in the morning. Don’t sweep your trailer litter on the ground right where another truck is going to park after you leave.
To properly clean out a trailer, open one door and secure it to the frame with a piece of chain and a padlock so you don’t get locked in. Start sweeping from the back toward the nose of the trailer. If you can’t, then sweep toward the closed door.
Use a dustpan to put the litter in a bag and not on the ground. I’m sure drivers have a handful of plastic bags from the truck stops.
In closing, making sure we all back up our equipment safely is paramount. It’s when we get paid and when we finish our shift out on the road.