A truck driver spends 99% of their driving time going forward. That other 1% is spent going in reverse, yet a competent truck driver is judged as much on that reversing skill as they are on their going forward skills. There’s no doubt that driving from A to B safely and on time is important, however, once you get to B, you will generally be required to reverse your truck into an unloading area. Will you get it right the first time?
After a lot of practice and then doing it on the job, you’ll find it easy. If you have had experience reversing a car and trailer, then you’ll have some of the basics. However, don’t think you can just transfer those skills to a truck – there is a difference, and it’s a big difference. One of the hardest aspects of reversing a large truck is the fact you’re often blind – you really do need to work those mirrors, and to have faith in your own abilities. It’s almost a case of lining up when you need your truck to be, then backing it in, keeping everything as straight as possible – and that’s the easy reversing maneuvers. There will be times when you have to reverse around corners, and that really is blind driving. You’ll rely on your mirrors and, with luck, someone on the outside giving directions.
The other task that a truck driver will need to learn well is coupling and uncoupling techniques. This is a task that you may have to do daily, or only once every three or four days depending on how far you have to drive. It is a task that you’ll have to be competent at on your own with no outside help.
These are the one percenters – the tasks you only do occasionally. They are also the tasks that employers will judge you on so you need to be competent at them right from day one. When undertaking truck driver training, be sure your training includes plenty of time going through these one percenters – your future career could depend on how well you perform them from day one.