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Backing a semi-truck (or tractor-trailer) at a 45-degree angle is one of the most common backing maneuvers used by drivers. This is known as alley docking. It is useful for parking in between trailers at a terminal, or backing into a loading dock, or perhaps even an alley. Fortunately it is one of the easier backing maneuvers for new drivers to learn. By following a step-by-step routine, you should be backing into tight spots in no time.
Slide your tandems all the way back. This makes it easier to control the back of the trailer. If you are pulling into a loading dock, latch the trailer doors open.
Angle your trailer toward the driver's side at 45 degrees to the dock or the place you are pulling into. Your tractor should be angled slightly steeper than the trailer so you can see the left side of the trailer and the dock in your driver-side mirror.
Choose a point to aim at, such as a pole or the corner of a wall. Many loading docks have aiming points painted on them with yellow or red paint. You should also use the lines on the pavement to make sure your trailer tires are in the right place. Point the left rear of the trailer toward your aiming point. Use your left mirror to navigate with.
Turn on your hazard signals. Blow two short blasts on the highway horn. This will warn others that you are backing up. Back up slowly, correcting with the steering wheel to keep the trailer heading toward your aiming point. Keep your foot on the clutch to control your speed. If you get off track, pull forward a little and realign.
Straighten the tractor when the trailer enters the front of the dock. To do this you will need to cut the wheel to the right and then hard left. Pull forward if you are not perfectly straight with the dock, straighten yourself out and then back in.
Go very slowly using only the clutch and brake pedal to control your speed. You don't want to crash into the dock or whatever is at the back of the parking spot. If you aren't sure how close you are to the back of the spot, get out of the truck and check it out.
If you are pulling into a dock, you will feel the trailer hit the bump stops. Apply the foot break, then engage the parking brakes.
Find a spotter to guide you into the parking space. Dock workers or co-drivers are often glad to help.
Never open the door and hang out of the cab to see where you are going while you are backing up.
Always use the mirrors while backing up.