Some new truck drivers assume that because they already know how to drive, they don’t have much to learn. In actuality, while your skills behind the wheel will provide a solid foundation for your career as a truck driver, you need to understand the business of trucking and adjust to the lifestyle if you want to be successful. For help, check out the tips for new truck drivers that we’ve compiled below. Even if some of our suggestions seem obvious and straightforward, let them serve as helpful reminders for the future.
Tips for New Truck Drivers
Maneuvering an 18-wheeler is tricky, so take your time. Especially at the start, when you lack experience, take care before merging or changing lanes, and never back up in a rush. Wouldn’t you rather explain why you’re late than attempt to justify why you wrecked your truck and caused an accident? Of all the tips for new truck drivers, this is undoubtedly the most important.
Go the Extra Mile
No, not literally. Through hard work and dedication, you can prove your worth to your employer. Give 110%, so that your fleet manager, dispatcher, and/or terminal manager know that they can count on you. If you establish a reputation as a reliable, diligent driver, your bosses may turn to you for important jobs or even a promotion.
Watch the Clock
Punctuality is pivotal when you’re a truck driver. Your timeliness sets the tone for your interactions with your carrier, your customer, and your receiver. Plus, not only does it affect your current order’s success, but it may also influence whether you’re early or late for your next job. So pay close attention to the clock, give yourself some leeway when scheduling your day, and always call ahead if you’re running late.
Any experienced truck driver can tell you how frustrating it is trying to park after a certain hour at truck stops. After about 6:00-7:00pm, depending on the season and your location, truck stops tend to fill up quickly, leaving drivers hunting around for alternatives, losing time and sleep. You’ll quickly realize that if you arrange your schedule so that you can park early, you can save yourself time, money, stress, and frustration. Wake early, drive efficiently, and park early if parking is a concern in your area of the country.
Avoid Heavy Traffic
If you’re laughing right now, I don’t blame you. Avoiding traffic is easier said than done, and of course all drivers (professional or not) would prefer to avoid traffic. However, consider traffic management when scheduling your drive times and planning your routes. For example, you can bet on packed roads at rush hour (about 6:00-10:00am) in major cities like New York City and Chicago. If possible, plan your day around this time or reroute so that you avoid bumper-to-bumper traffic. Yes, this might mean waking up at 3 o’clock in the morning, but it will be worth it when you can breeze past Chicago with the wind in your hair.
Know When to Rest
When you’re trying to reach a destination, it can be tempting to just keep moving no matter what. However, you need to give your mind and your body time to rest and recover from long hours on the road. Never skimp on a good night’s sleep, and don’t attempt to “push through” feelings of exhaustion. Recognize when you’re feeling tired, stop, and rest. Driving when tired can be comparable to driving drunk, and coffee is not a substitute for quality sleep. Don’t risk your own safety or the safety of other drivers to drive when you’re fatigued.
Maintain Your Health
Life on the road can lead to a very unhealthy lifestyle – little sleep, lots of fast food, a lack of regular exercise, etc. After all, for the majority of your day, you will be sitting and driving. If you don’t make time for healthy habits, your body and mood will reflect the results. So take care of yourself! Fuel your body with nutritious snacks, stretch your legs, embrace a workout routine, and don’t skimp on sleep.
We know how tempting it can be to glance at your phone and read a text message while driving. What if you need to check the weather forecast? What if your daughter sends you a picture? What if your snack falls off the passenger seat? Don’t give in to the temptation of these distractions while driving; they can always wait until you have a chance to pull over. Keep your attention on the road at all times for safety’s sake.
Invest (and Reinvest) in Your Education
Finally, we can’t talk about tips for new truck drivers without discussing education. To start your career in the transportation industry, enroll in a truck driver training program. You can learn everything you need to know at the Truck Dynasty Driving Academy, a professional truck driver training program that involves 120 clock hours and 3 weeks of professional driver training. In addition, current drivers can use the refresher course to sharpen and develop their skills. To get started, please give us a call at 417-831-8188, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us online. We look forward to hearing from you!