A truck driver trainee rides along with a trainer and learns the rules of the road firsthand by assisting with driving duties. The truck driver trainee also works to load and unload the contents of the trailer at the dock, when necessary. Paperwork and map reading are also handled by the truck driver trainee and, in many instances, the trainer will allow the trainee to speak with the dispatcher and secure new loads and delivery destinations. Other routine tasks, such as pumping fuel, checking tires and servicing brakes, are often left to the trainee.
Truck drivers undergo a training period that begins with classroom lessons and is followed by an actual driving component. After completion of the driver's training or driver's school, as it is commonly called, the truck driver trainee is assigned to a driving partner. This partner is tasked with providing the driver trainee the knowledge and skills to safely operate the truck. While in the role as the truck driver trainee, most of the laborious and less-than-pleasant tasks that go with driving a truck fall upon the trainee's shoulders. This can range from simple truck and trailer maintenance to driving in congested areas and backing into difficult-to-navigate docks and parking spaces.
One of the most difficult tasks for some trainees to master is putting on snow chains. Snow chains are large sections of metal chain that surround the drive tires of the semi-tractor or truck. The chains are used to provide improved traction in snow and ice and are often required, by law, to operate on some sections of roadway, especially in mountainous regions. When a truck containing a trainer and a truck driver trainee encounter an area requiring snow chain use, the trainee is typically assigned to the task of putting the chains on the truck tires. This can be a very wet and cold experience for a rookie driver, as the chains are usually difficult to get positioned properly on the tires.
It is also the job of the truck driver trainee to speak with a dispatcher and arrange the transportation of a new load when the current load has been delivered. In some scenarios, the truck driver trainee is also asked to either unload the trailer or to assist a worker in unloading the trailer. This often happens when the load is not placed on pallets when loaded, when there is fragile merchandise or the receiver has no dock and the truck is being unloaded in an alley or on the side of a street.