Driving can be nerve-wracking for most people. For some it can be the entire experience whereas for some it is about certain aspects of driving. Many people never get to be in driving situations involving trailers. Actually a considerable number of drivers dread driving vehicles with trailers. It is understandable because handling a trailer can be tasking in certain situations. One of those situations is backing up a trailer into a driveway. The discussion we are having here is solely focused on how to back up a trailer into a driveway.
Table of Contents
Mental Considerations To Take Note Of
Driveway Is Actually Your Guiding System
Backing up a trailer into a driveway may seem daunting. There are mental pictures you must build to ease the whole experience. For instance, backing up into a driveway seems unsettling due to the limited space. However, have a mental picture of using the space as markers or guiders. As you well know, a driveway is clearly demarcated. The edges and the width of the driveway, no matter how restricting it may seem, actually guide you. That is the first mental consideration you must take note of when backing up a trailer into a driveway.
Vehicle Movement Translates To Trailer Movement
When you move the vehicle in any way it moves the trailer. This might sound obvious but some do not have this established in their mind as it should. Any movement of the vehicle; be it forward, backwards, or sideways, translates into corresponding trailer movement. Have this settled in your mental space so that you can have mental pictures of which movement corresponds to what.
What Corresponds To What?
By turning your steering to the right, the trailer will move, tilt, or swing to the right. Same applies when you steer the vehicle left, the trailer will move, tilt, or swing to the left. To avoid initial confusion, start off with the steering straight. Then you place your applicable hand on the 6 o’clock position. Starting from there you can clearly know which direction you have to turn to first.
How You Start Varies
Your starting point when backing up a trailer into a driveway varies depending on several factors. It depends on the nature of terrain, the positioning of the driveway and the direction you are coming from, amongst others. What is important is that you project in your mind first how you intend to enter. No wonder, mental considerations are pertinent when backing up a trailer into a driveway. You have to plan your steps mentally before you start the whole process. It is easier to have your starting position entailing backing up from your side i.e. driver’s side. This means your first movement will swing the trailer to your side. That way you can mostly see the trailer as you make your first movements.
General Steps To Follow
You get to the opening of the driveway. There are several options of how to position yourself before making your first backing up movement. Some prefer to position the vehicle such that it is perpendicular to the driveway. They do this with the end of the trailer close to one of the edges of the opening to the driveway. Some as they approach can turn the vehicle away from the driveway with the back of the trailer facing the driveway. They do so at an angle that somehow aligns the back of the trailer to point towards the driveway opening.
It really depends on the mental picture you would have created of how you want to back up the trailer. What is important though is to ensure the main road you are on is clear of other vehicles approaching. This is because at times your movements will cause the vehicle, trailer, or both to block the main road. Same applies for the actual driveway. Ensure it clear of obstacles or other vehicles coming out.
Start steering either to the left or right followed by backward movements as you seek to get the trailer aligned with the edges of the driveway. You do this in succession whilst of course visually judging the space in relation to your movements. If you realize your judgements are off you can always drive forwards and start afresh. Corrective movements will always need you to drive forwards to somehow reset your position. The thrust is to get the trailer aligned straight within the edges of the driveway. To look at the back you can look over your shoulder, peep by putting your head outside the window, or using rear view mirrors. You could even have someone stand outside guiding you as a spotter.
Basically, you will spend some time on step two. You repeat it till your trailer and vehicle are aligned straight within the confines of the driveway. You can achieve this with the vehicle and trailer still outside the driveway. It could also happen with both already in the driveway space. It will all depend on how you started off i.e. your starting position before you started backing up the trailer. Once alignment is on-point you can reverse straight till you stop with the vehicle and trailer inside the driveway.
The length of the trailer has bearings on the magnitude of your movements. For a long trailer your vehicle movements should be more pronounced to achieve substantial trailer swings. However, exercise caution to not make the vehicle turns too excessive otherwise a jack knife may occur. Any slight vehicle movement with a short trailer translates into substantial trailer swings. That is why backing up long trailers into a driveway is often much easier. Whenever you are making any reverse movement do it slowly or steadily.
That is the basic rundown of how to back up a trailer into a driveway. It always gets easier the more you do it. That is why it is helpful to practice as often as you can.