The acronym G.O.A.L. stands for Get Out And Look, terminology which is widely used in the trucking industry. Next time you pass a semi-tractor, look closely at the mirrors, especially the driver’s side, and you are likely to see a GOAL decal reminding the driver to Get Out And Look before backing up.
Backing accidents are the most common type of accident in the trucking industry. They happen at truck stops, at the shipping or receiving center, or just about anywhere a truck needs to back up.
While I don’t have the statistics, I suspect the majority of damage to RVs occurs during the backing process as well. The fact that many RVers won’t even consider an RV park without pull-through spaces supports my suspicion that many RVers are not comfortable backing up their RV or have had a bad experience in the past.
So let’s take a page out of the trucking industries playbook and apply it to the RV lifestyle.
- Always “Get Out And Look”, even if you’re a veteran RVer and have never had a backing mishap.
- Use a spotter whenever possible. Most of us aren’t solo RVers and have a traveling companion to serve as a spotter.
- Make sure your mirrors are clean and properly adjusted to see where you are backing and to keep an eye on your spotter.
- Take it slow and easy.
One final tip for solo backers: When you Get Out And Look, estimate (or measure if you are a poor judge of space) the distance to the nearest obstruction behind your RV that’s likely to cause damage.
When you get back behind the wheel, note (or draw) a reference mark on the ground immediately adjacent to the driver’s side that is conservatively shorter (a couple of feet or so) than the distance you just estimated/measured.
Back up until you are even with that mark and then Get Out And Look again! This should get you close enough to the obstruction that no further backing is needed.
However, if you still need to back up a little more, again estimate (or measure) the distance to the obstruction, but this time take a block of wood and place it where the rear tire of your RV will bump against it sooner than the obstruction. When you feel or see the RV engage the block, your backing is complete.
If your goal is to back up your RV without damage, then rest easy and employ the GOAL acronym on your next RV outing. Because backing into a tree is an adventure in RVing nobody wants to experience!
You may also want to consider investing in a Back-Up Camera
Dave Helgeson’s many roles in the RV industry started before he even had a driver’s license. His grandparents and father owned an RV dealership before the term “RV” had been coined, and Dave played a pivotal role in nearly every position of an RV dealership. He and his wife Cheri launched their own RV dealership in the Pacific Northwest. The duo also spent 29 years overseeing regional RV shows. Dave has also served as President of a local chapter of the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), worked on the board of advisors for the RV Technician Program of a local technical college, and served as a board member of the Manufactured Home and RV Association. Dave’s reputation earned him the title of “The foremost expert on boondocking,” bestowed by RV industry icon, the late Gary Bunzer (The RV Doctor). When he’s not out boondocking, you’ll find Dave in the spotlight at RV shows across the country, giving seminars about all things RVing. He and Cheri currently roam in their fifth travel trailer, with Dave doing all the service, repair and modifications to his own unit.