In what looks like the United Kingdom, this set of C-train doubles is being backed amongst...

In what looks like the United Kingdom, this set of C-train doubles is being backed amongst obstacles by a bloke in a right-hand-drive Scania cabover. He masterfully avoids cargo pallets stacked ahead and another rig parked on his blind side.

Screenshot via CCTube

The truck driving school I attended back in 1975 was demanding. We students had to master backing a semi through a long serpentine course, first with a 27-foot pup and then with a 40-footer, the common van trailers in those days. We all had to accomplish this before being allowed to drive anything on public roads. There were other maneuvering tests, too, and by the time I got out I thought I really knew how to handle a rig.

But we could practice for those tests. Real-world predicaments that truckers find themselves in are different, though experience – another word for years of practice – makes some of these maneuvers look easy. YouTube has a bunch of videos that show some impressive truck-driving feats accomplished every day by real professionals. Here’s one of my favorites:

Most of the 10 clips were shot in Europe, some with truck-and-trailer combinations that are longer than the common tractor-trailers that we run in most of the U.S. Others are single semis, backed up without pause while maneuvering in tight places.

Then, starting at 3:45, there’s a double-trailer rig in the UK, being backed toward a dock whilst the bloke behind the wheel dodges a bunch of pallets and other rigs parked nearby (see the opening photo). One comment from a viewer: “I’ve trucked all my life (about 45 years on the road) and with a little patience, I can do most of this. But that guy that backed those twins up, that impressed me.”

The very last clip, starting at 12:06, was filmed in what looks like New York City. It shows a guy blind-backing a Strick 53-foot van into an off-street dock.

Somewhere in New York city, this driver has limited space with parked vehicles to his left, yet...

Somewhere in New York city, this driver has limited space with parked vehicles to his left, yet manages to back the 53-foot van into the dock area in a little over four minutes. Years ago, his long T660 conventional would’ve been a compact K100 cabover pushing a shorter trailer, which would’ve been a far easier job.

Screenshot via CCTube

The driver has a Kenworth T660 with a long sleeper, and his maneuvering room is limited by vehicles parked across the street, to his left. He has to make multiple pull-ups to clear those obstacles and get the trailer’s rear moving correctly toward the dock. Several fellows on the ground spot for him, but in a situation like that, which one do you watch?

Yet he gets the trailer into the dock in a little over four minutes. That drew praise from one viewer: “I do not envy that T660 driver. 90 degree blindside in Manhattan? No thanks!”

Says another: “So many of these places made for horse and buggy, and now they want you to put a 53-foot trailer in there, with a full-size, over-the-road, max-sleeper truck.” Exactly my feelings.

What sounds like a viewer in Europe asks: “Why has America not figured out how to put the engine under the cab?” Oh, we did, buddy. Thirty or more years ago that tractor would’ve been a compact K100 cabover, the trailer would’ve been a 40- or 45-footer, and that driver would’ve finished the job in a minute or two.

Sometimes the good old days really were.

About the author
Tom Berg

Tom Berg

Former Senior Contributing Editor

Journalist since 1965, truck writer and editor since 1978.

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