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Reversing A Heavy Combination Truck - Tips To Help You Through Your Test

by Kurt Morales

One of the crucial techniques you'll need to perfect in order to pass your Practical Heavy Combination Driving Test is how to reverse your rig.  Here are some top tips to help you sail through the reversing exercise in your test!

Practice, practice, and practice some more: Take every opportunity you can to practice reversing.  The best way to learn is to make mistakes in a safe, controlled environment where you can put them right at your leisure, before your test.  

Observations are crucial: Before you move your rig even one centimetre backwards, be sure to look.  Look out of your side window, take note of specific markers that might help you to make your way along the route accurately, for example rocks, white lines, trees etc.  

Use your mirrors: Your mirrors are well and truly your best mate when your reversing your truck.  Use your side mirrors to ensure that your trailer is staying in line with your truck.  If one of your mirrors is showing you more of your trailer than the other, the trailer isn't straight.  You should also keep an eye on where the trailer's wheels are relative to other objects, for example the kerb.  

Coordination: Remember that steering the trucks wheels to the left will make the trailer move to the right.  A good tip to avoid confusion is to place your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel, pushing it in the direction that you want the trailer to travel.  

Angle of the dangle: It's crucial that you keep the right angle when reversing your rig.  If your angle is too great, the whole thing will jack-knife and you'll have no option but to drive forward and start your manoeuvre all over again, which won't impress the examiner.  The trick to keeping the perfect angle is to take your time and reverse slowly.  

Low gear only: When reversing, put your truck into the lowest reverse gear that you have.  Keep your foot off the brake and off the clutch so that the rig maintains a consistent speed.  This gives you full control and makes the whole process smooth and comfortable for your load and for the examiner!

Heavy combination truck reversing is not impossible to master, even if you're nervous on the day of your test.  Remember to take your time, maintain good all-round observation, and keep the whole process slow and steady. Going through medium rigid truck training can help you be ready for your test.