I have never been skilled at backing up a trailer.
It usually takes me 4-5 tries to get the trailer where I want it to go.
We have a lot of farmers and truck drivers in our community and I am always impressed with the skill they have in backing up trailers of all kinds, shapes, and sizes. They make some of the most difficult maneuvers look so easy. I’ve watched as they have backed a semi trailer through a garage door that appears no wider than the trailer itself…IN ONE TAKE! They do not need to go back-and-forth to make it happen. It amazes me how skilled they are!
With all the skill they have shown, there is still one thing I have not seen. I have never seen someone back a trailer down the road at highway speeds. I’ve seen them go backwards pretty fast…maybe 10 mph. But I’ve never seen anyone backing a trailer at 50-60 mph.
Yes. I know. Most vehicles don’t go 50-60 mph in reverse.
If that’s your thought, you’re missing the point.
When we haul a trailer long distances on the highway, we PULL it. Only for very short stretches do we ever put the truck in reverse and PUSH the trailer.
It may seem obvious why we PULL a trailer on the highway instead of PUSH it (it is called a “trailer” after all!). It may be especially obvious to those of us that have ever tried backing up a trailer. The whole process of PULLING the trailer is significantly easier. Now, setting aside the obvious visibility issues of having the trailer in the front, it’s actually easier to control where the trailer goes when being PULLED because it just follows the truck. If the truck turns right…the trailer follows right.
The same is NOT true when PUSHING the trailer. When PUSHING the trailer, the controls are all messed up and it sometimes feels like the trailer is not obeying where the truck is trying to make it go. When the truck turns right, the trailer veers left.
There are many other reasons, but THAT is one of the primary reasons why we PULL trailers for the majority of our miles traveled.
If you tried to drive 50 mph with the trailer in front, it would be incredibly hard to maintain control because the slightest turn of the steering wheel would cause the trailer to go careening out of control and wreck both the truck and the trailer. Couple that with the visibility issue (another post for another time) and you have a tragedy waiting to happen.
All this is a reminder for us as we think about our life…
Who/What should be in the truck doing the driving?
And, where should our “trailer of stuff” be?
In the front?