Driving training tips - Backing up
Good links out: Driving tips - 70 tips for defensive driving : Look Down the Road

  • Have space 2 sec from car ahead, 4 if bad condition or different kind of car (small car can brake faster). Go 1-2 miles slower than traffic. Don't get packed by cars from both sides. Have space when stopped to drive around the car ahead: See where tires of car ahead touch the pavement.
  • If you drifted off road, do not swerve, jerking back (car can turn over), don't slam brakes: slow slightly, get back on road at slow speed.
  • If stranded, pull away from traffic. Get out of the car and stay farther away and up if possible. Walk down the road, not against the traffic.
  • Skid, oversteer and understeer
  • Signals to trucks let truck driver know he passed you: blink lights during day, turn lights off in night (don't blink high)
  • Get rid of talgaters: slow down to let them pass. Do NOT tap brakes to get them off your back: next time you need to brake they may think you just tap.
  • Avoid head-on collision Don't hug centerline - let the fool going too wide in opposite direction. If you have to, go off road RIGHT, slow down and don't hit square but off center, on a side if possible, with a glancing blow. But if you drive right, off the road, you are going to do some damage. For this reason (it's a sure crash), some folks hang on, in the face of an oncoming head-on, until it is too late. Think about it NOW. Slow quickly, drive right, off the road if necessary, live to see tomorrow.
  • People say that cars aren't made like they used to be. Thank heavens they aren't. Vehicle IS made to crumple and absorb crash forces, it is more expensive to repair after the crash; but that high repair bill is a direct result of the significant crumple protection it affords you. Seat belt positions you where airbag can protect you.
  • Beware of Intersections: 80% of all city collisions involving injury or death occur within signal-light intersection. Typical collision is usually a "t-bone - to the side door. The majority of collisions at controlled intersections happen within 4 seconds of a light change. You don't want to be in the intersection during that 4 seconds. But if you don't immediately go when the light turns green, people behind you get irritable. So: Stop far enough behind the stop line that you can see it on the pavement in front of your car - this normally gives you 10-15 feet of space. When the light turns green, take your foot off the brake and let your vehicle start to creep toward the crosswalk, for 4 secs. This space ahead gives to place to move to instead of being rear-ended.
  • On green light, slow down before entering intersection and make sure to look left-right-left; look left first, look left twice, because the first danger to you is the traffic approaching from your left. "Cover" the brake by moving foot for a few seconds from the accelerator to a position just above the brake pedal, which helps eliminate the reaction time needed to begin braking.
  • Slow down in rain - in arid areas, road is slippery when rains. It takes 30 minutes to clean the road - most of times it rains less, and road is not cleaned.


When going downhill, do not slow by constantly applying brakes (don't ride brakes)- they will heat up and stop functioning. Instead, downshift to lower gear. If RV speeds up more than 5 mph over what you want to go, slow it by braking, then release brakes to let them cool down (30-45 secs) before the need to apply them again. Pull over to stop and cool them down (NOT by dousing by cold water on them!) if you have to brake too often - before they fail.
Transmission will downshift unless the car is going too fast for that gear. If the car is going too fast, it will wait until the car slows down and then downshift. That's why it is important to downshift early (or after you slowed down). See How Automatic Transmissions Work

  • Steep descent Select a lower gear to maximize engine RPM and driveline resistance. Short adequate hard applications of the service brakes.


Learn where rear wheels are - some mark on RV's side. 1" mirror width for each 10' of rig, so you need 6" wide. Separate convex mirror to see wider.

Tail Swing

When you turn left off curb, tail (overhang: beyond rear wheels) swings right, and vice versa. Don't hit something on the curb.


With a long rig, it's easier to make left turns than right turns. Instead of right turn, make next left and go back around a block.

Problem situations:

  • Running off the shoulder of the pavement at speed : DO NOT jerk the wheel to pull back onto the pavement. Doing so can throw the rig quickly out of control. Hold the wheel firmly. Keep the rig moving straight. Let the rig coast down to a safe speed and then gradually pull it back onto the pavement. DO NOT BRAKE With one side on pavement and the other on dirt, the differance in traction can cause a loss of control if the brakes are applied. Just coast a little ways to reduce speed and regain your control.
  • * Wildlife: Slow, scan. Alternating high and low beams will get them moving off road. Don'f focus on that animal: see oncoming traffic and other animals too.
  • If you overheat on a grade do not pull over and shut the engine off. Do pull over as soon as you can, safely, but leave the engine running to keep the coolant circulating through the radiator. do not remove the radiator cap until the engine has had a good long while to cool off.
  • Winter driving for trucks. Many tips, like when road is snowed, shoulder may have better traction. Avoid frozen brakes: drive a bit (in parking lot) with brakes to warm and dry them.

Driving Tips (author got CDL class B by signing as substitute school bus driver)

  • Do a personal attitude checkup: don't drive angry or upset.
  • Daily checklist: oil, coolant, hydrolic fluid. Tire pressure. Engine noise. And every 2 hours - walk around while engine runs.
  • Weight: get 10% safety margin off specs. It's not about acceleration, but panic braking and emergency maneuvers.
  • Practice high speed lane change, as heavy rigs can turn easier than you can stop them.
  • Practice driving in "the rut" — an unpaved shoulder — with the right front tire. Practice at slow speed. Rut will pull steering wheel right..jerk. As you increase speed, jerk gets stronger. Do NOT turn left. Objective is to steer it straight - avoid jackknife.

Know your rig's specs:

  • pivot point (where it turns: for 2 axles vehicle it is center of rear axle)
  • off-tracking (difference between the path of the front and rear wheels during a turn)
  • turn offset (distance that your coach will travel forward during a turn, in relationship to how far away you were from an object when you started the turn)
  • Backing up (post 7) - remove stress from tires after backing up your trailer in a turn (trailer has no differential). After backing, drive forward 2-3feet, back again straight - prevent tire and suspension failures.
  • Newbie driver - backing big trucks, show mistakes.
  • Tail swing (distance that the body of the coach behind the pivot point moves in the opposite direction of the front when you turn)
  • proper mirror adjustment guide
  • reference points on front hood

Avoid rollover - vehicles with higher center of gravity need to go 5-10 miles slower than posted limit in turn - it is for more stable cars.

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