Backing Accident Prevention
accidents have for years been the highest frequency accidents with
the lowest severity in the industry. However, the exposure as with
any type of accident always exists for a fatality, injury and
should adhere to the following safe backing procedures to prevent
Always conduct a thorough pre-trip inspection. Check the vehicle's
brakes, horn, back-up lights, 4-way flashers and back-up alarm (if
equipped) for proper working condition. If equipped with a back-up
device such as a video camera, make sure the lens is clean. Clean
windows and mirrors thoroughly to provide a clear view.
ahead and avoid backing whenever possible. Do not put yourself into
unnecessary backing situations. When practical, park the vehicle so
it will not have to be backed at a later time. If you learn your
routes, you may be able to avoid certain backing situations. Drive
around the block and approach your stop again if necessary.
to know the vehicle's blind spots. Drivers need to remember that
mirrors can never give the whole picture while backing.
Adjust mirrors for maximum visibility. Mirrors are a major key to
any backing maneuver. Adjust your mirrors while the tractor and
trailer are in a perfectly straight line and you are sitting in the
driver's seat in your normal comfortable sitting position. Get help
adjusting the right side mirror.
Never back a vehicle when any mirror is covered with dirt, frost,
snow or other substances that keep you from visually clearing the
path the vehicle will take.
defensively. Carefully survey the parking opportunities when you
arrive at the delivery site. If possible, choose an easy-exit
parking space that does not crowd neighboring vehicles. Too often,
drivers pull into the most convenient location in order to speed up
the delivery process. Sometimes, choosing a poor parking space is a
matter of necessity, but in many cases, a better defensive position
is available if you take the time to look and evaluate.
Situate your vehicle in the best possible position before starting
to back up. Make the turn on the driver's side, if possible, in order
to minimize turning and allow you to see the back of the vehicle
swinging into position.
your exit when parking in an alley. If an alley does not permit
driving all the way through or room to turn around, then back into
it (if local ordinances permit) so that when leaving, you can drive
your vehicle forward into the street.
9. Walk around
your vehicle and check and recheck your path of travel. Before any
attempt is made to back, always get out of your cab to look and see
what lies between you and your backing destination. Check for
workers, pedestrians, soft or muddy areas, potholes, tire hazards
and equipment hazards. When backing long distances, it doesn't hurt
to stop and recheck your path of travel. Don't forget to look up!
Look for awnings, pipes, framing, fire escapes, wires, etc. that
will be in your way. Look up, down, all around and under the truck
before backing. The entire path the vehicle will take must be clear
of obstacles. Are there trash containers, wires, low-hanging trees,
or other obstructions in or above your backing path? Anticipate
where another vehicle or pedestrian could reach the rear of the
vehicle while it is backing.
Determine space limitations. Is the space wide enough? Is the
loading dock platform high enough or low enough? Be aware that the
path may slope up or down, making it difficult to judge vehicle
clearance at your destination point. Measure and determine proper
distances vertically and horizontally to safely park or unload your
a reliable guide when possible. Although ultimately the
responsibility of backing safely falls on the driver, it is helpful
to use a reliable, well-trained guide or spotter whenever possible
to assist when backing. An extra set of eyes could make all the difference,
particularly in situations where there are blind spots or when
someone or something could come into your path. The driver and
guide should use hand signals instead of verbal ones and make sure
you understand each other' signals. Do not have the guide walking
backwards while giving instructions. Establish eye contact with the
guide before backing and keep the guide in sight at all times while
backing. If you lose sight of the guide, STOP and determine where
he/she is. Remind the guide to watch not only for the side and rear
clearances, but also for overhead clearances and other overhangs as
When you must spot for yourself without a guide, return to the
vehicle quickly. Start backing within a few seconds after finishing
the walk-around check. This will allow very little time for people
and/or obstacles to move behind the vehicle.
Measure and mark the distance carefully before backing. As you back
into your space, get out of your truck and pace off the length of
the space from the dock to the rear of the trailer. Then pace off
the same distance from your driver's door back to the end of the
trailer area. Place an object on the ground at this measurement
point. Then as you back up, you will be at or near the dock when
your driver's door reaches the object.
your flashlight as a reference point. When backing at night or when
backing into buildings or other enclosed structures during the day,
lay your flashlight down at the end of your backing area. The
flashlight will not light up the dark area, but the light will give
you a reference point for which to aim.
Once you are behind the wheel, with the engine running and the
vehicle in reverse, check the area again by turning and visually
clearing the path that the vehicle will take. Use all side mirrors
to constantly check and visually clear your path.
your 4-way flashers and back-up alarm (if equipped) and
periodically tap your horn prior to backing and as you continue
backing. These warning devices are designed to alert others of your
presence and can make other drivers aware of your intentions.
Assume that other vehicles or individuals do not see you coming.
Back slowly and cautiously. Have complete control of your vehicle.
Use the lowest possible gear or idle speed and do not accelerate.
Remember that every backing situation is new and different. If you
visit the same location several times a day or each week, be
watchful each visit.