Good habits limit bad problems. Over the years we develop good and bad habits. Get Out And Look has always been a good idea. It is my habit to spot the truck and then open my trailer doors. This gives me a better look at where I am backing into. When in doubt, I never hesitate to get out and check my blind side. Yes, the driver waiting to get by me in a truck stop may find this irritating and even honk their horn at me. Hey, if it bothered them that much they might consider getting out of their truck and spotting. I also figure that the driver of the truck parked on my blind side would be more irritated if I hit that truck than the driver waiting to get by me.

Indoor docks can be especially challenging for drivers. Add in a well positioned sun and they become an even bigger challenge. Take out your flashlight and walk the dock area. Check the ground. Docks can become collection areas for discarded seals, bolts and other debris that can damage your equipment.

Guide lines do not always line up the same way. Some want the trailer tires right on the line. Others want you six inches inside of it. Maybe someone left the chocks where you will run over them on the way into the dock. A quick walk back to the dock plate will help you check all of these things. It is a preventative act that takes less than a minute.

Many places have dock locks. Check to make sure that they are in the proper position before you back in. Those things can fail and be stuck in the up position. Backing into them when they are not in the proper position can damage the lock itself as well as your ICC bumper. Breaking a dock lock may not be the drivers fault, but why even go there. Breaking a dock lock does not do anyone any good, and may create a lengthy delay. You're on the clock. Delays cost money.

Another thing that can happen is the dock plate itself may not be all the way down. Hitting a partially open dock plate can damage the plate, the trailer and the dock door itself. Many are on springs. When they get hit by the trailer they can pop up. This can damage the door hardware or even the door itself. Whether or not the driver is held responsible for the damage, it can cause more than a costly delay. It can damage relations with a customer.

Walking all the way back to the dock door may seem like a waste of time and energy. I don't think of it that way. It is an ounce of prevention. It is always easier for everyone to prevent problems instead of repairing them.

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Jeff Clark

Jeff Clark of Kewaunee, WI has been driving a truck for 24 years. He has been an owner operator for 11 years.

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July 19, 2014