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Tips for truckers: Setting up for a dock

truck setting up for a dock
  • by Load-Me
  • May 10, 2017

One of the abilities new drivers should work on is setting up for a dock: getting appropriate truck position, keeping in mind what needs to be done in order to be able to back into a loading dock.


10 tips for setting up for a dock (backing up to the docking point/target)

  1. When you are positioning your truck move in such a way that the back of the trailer will track as straight into the dock as possible

  2. After that, when reversing the truck towards the loading dock, just take after the track of the back of the trailer into the dock, rectifying the cab and trailer as soon as you can

  3. There's nothing wrong with hanging out the driver’s window and glancing back at the back of your trailer as you are moving down. It’s better if you have a direct sight line than depending totally on your mirror.

  4. Pull forward to rectify direction as often as you need it.

  5. Keep in mind both sides of the truck and make sure you watch them both

  6. Stop your truck and get out of the cabin as often as you need to check direction and make sure you are not hitting anything. There is greater chance to do some damage when backing up with the truck.

  7. Before contacting the dock, get out and check that dock guards on the building are not going to touch the back of your trailer. These guards can knock your trailer doors right off. At the same time check if dock locks on the building are in the open position and will not hit your ICC bar

  8. Be wary trusting a spotter. Keep in mind that they can only see one side of the truck and trailer, just like you. It takes a few seconds more but you should get out and check for yourself because you should know better.

  9. Ease gently into the dock, while feathering the clutch. When you can sense that the truck is against the dock, set all brakes and get out of the cabin again in order to check how and where the trailer is touching the door.

  10. Make sure that the trailer is in the entryway straight so the dock plate can line up to the trailer floor in all its length

Backing up a large truck into a loading dock takes time and practice. Always remember to take it slowly and carefully, it time you will get better and better at it and it will go faster. Don’t forget that the damage you can do with a large rig is very costly and it’s not worth the risk no matter how much you are in a hurry.


loading a truck while setting up for a dock


Backing up a big truck is most likely the hardest part in figuring out how to drive well. Luckily, there are a couple approaches to help in the learning the correct procedure. Follow some basic rules and take in consideration the tips above and you'll be on the right track.

Rule #1

First thing to do is to take a good look at the dock itself and all the obstacles that might be in your way when you are backing up to the loading dock.
On the off chance that the dock can't be seen from the road, stop the truck on the street or at the necessary distance and take a walk around the loading area to study the situation. It is a lot better to take a minute and check it out instead of having to back out again after nosing in and realizing that your truck won’t fit.

Rule #2

If there a lot of objects on your way in, stacks or pallets of merchandise, parked cars and such – feel free to ask the shipper to clear the area for you. Many of these load owners don’t realize or just don’t care if they have enough room for your truck to fit in. Don’t take their word for it if they say “It’s OK, we get trucks in here all the time”. Many don’t make the difference between a large van and a 53′ trailer.

Note: be careful because if you hit anything (merchandise, parked cars) on your way in or while maneuvering to the loading dock, it will be your fault and you will be responsible for it. It’s cash out of your pocket and points to your driving record.

Rule #3

Don’t be ashamed to maneuver your truck as much as needed when backing up into a difficult spot. And don’t let anyone make fun of you and embarrass you into trying to back into an impossible spot. It is your responsibility if you hit anything and will cost you cash out of the pocket or even your job.

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