Every department these days has some sort of a backing policy in place. These policies usually mean that other members of the crew need to assist the driver when backing. Anyone who works for a company that deals with fleet vehicles will say most of the accidents occur when backing up.
Our department policy made every crew member get out of the truck and assist the driver. Depending on how many crew members there were (typically three or four), one or two would be positioned at the rear of the truck, each a little outside of the bumper corners so they were always in view of the cab door mirrors where the driver can see them. The other member(s) would be located at the front of the truck opposite the driver with a clear unobstructed. This prevented the bumper from hitting objects, especially when turning and backing.
I used to teach drivers not to get tunnel vision by constantly staring at the screen of the backup camera. It should not be the only instrument used, but rather another tool in their arsenal. They still needed look in their mirrors and at the front of the truck and keep their head on a swivel. I also instructed drivers to lower the windows so they not only had direct line of sight with the other crew members, but also direct vocal/audible contact.
Don't assume everything will work correctly on the backup camera right away; you may have to make some adjustments. For example, many backup cameras have microphones so the driver can hear the other members.
We once had an issue on a newly-delivered apparatus trying to figure out why we could not hear anything from the rear cab microphone. Initially, we concluded that the backup camera did not have a microphone or was malfunctioning despite the manual describing one. After 45 minutes, we discovered a mic speaker with volume control behind the driver's seat. All we had to do was turn up the volume.
When we used to do our driving exams, one driver exercise was to back the truck up, unassisted, into a "box" area (a marked rectangle on the ground). We would then measure the distance for scoring from the part of the truck that extended the farthest off the rear.
Drivers needed to show they had good depth perception and knew the parameters of their assigned truck as far as the length, width and height.
As an added challenge, the drivers would have to park in this box with the assistance of the backup camera and then without it. That way they would be comfortable if the camera ever malfunctioned. It's like the old saying goes: "Hope for the best, but plan for the worst."
This article was written for & published by MultiBriefs.