One of the most important skills you will learn as a truck driver is how to set your rig up for a dock, i.e. placing your truck in the correct position to reverse into a loading dock or bay.
As setting up for a dock is a notoriously difficult feat for a learner to master, you may find the following tips helpful.
Familiarise yourself with the docking area first
Before you even attempt to back-up your rig, park up somewhere out of the way and carry out a survey of the area on foot.
It's always much easier to assess the task in this way first, rather than driving in and then finding that your rig won't fit.
If the area around the dock is cluttered with obstructions, such as discarded skid stacks or parked vehicles, ask the shipper to clear the space for you. If you collide with something and damage your wagon, your employer's insurance will take a hike up, and you could finish up with a blemish on your licence.
Tips for setting up a big rig for a dock
- When positioning your rig, try to manoeuvre so that the trailer will enter the dock as straight as possible. When you begin to reverse, all you need to do is follow the track set by the rear of your trailer right into the dock. Straighten up the trailer and cab as soon as you can.
- Don't rely completely on your mirrors; lean out of the driver's window so that you have got a good view of the rear of your trailer as you go.
- As you reverse into the dock, proceed slowly. Stop, get out, and check your path as many times as you need to.
- Watch out for dock guards that could come into contact with your trailer, and check that dock locks are open so that your ICC bar doesn't get damaged.
- As you manoeuvre your trailer into the dock, proceed at a crawl, feathering the clutch as you go. As soon as you feel the trailer come into contact with the dock, set all your brakes and look to see where the contact point is.
- The trailer needs to be straight against the door to allow the plate to line up with the trailer floor. If you need to, pull forward and represent your rig to get it completely straight.
As with many aspects of learning to drive heavy articulated trucks, practice makes perfect. Take your time and don't be afraid to pull forward so that you can reposition your rig if you need to.