When you’re a new driver, you don’t know what you don’t know. Not yet, at least. There’s a lot to learn on and off road. It’s going to take a while for you to get the hang of everything or build your reputation for being the one who can get the job done. Until that day comes, use these tips to keep the loads coming your way, earn a reputation for being a professional, and become a good truck driver that people can depend on.
- Don’t refuse loads. In the beginning, jump on whatever you’re offered. You’re showing dispatch that you’re someone who’ll get the job done. And, frankly, the best way to get better is to put the miles in.
- Get to know your dispatcher and be friendly with them. You don’t have to be their best friend, but being friendly and dependable helps you and
- Make safety a priority. Read the safety materials you’re given. Use pre-trip inspection checklists. Get out of your truck and look behind you before backing up. Safe drivers are invaluable to fleets and companies.
- If your go-to map is GPS or a mobile app, make sure it calculates routes for trucks, not cars.
- Get plenty of rest. Buy yourself good pillows and blankets and even a white noise machine if it helps you sleep at night.
- Don’t drive when you’re too tired. Stop and get out of the truck for a few minutes. Take a walk. Splash water on your face. If you’re absolutely exhausted, take a short nap if you can’t stop for the night.
- Always be professional with people – with dispatch, at your pick up location, where you’re dropping off, and everywhere in between. When problems happen – and they will – explain the situation, offer a solution if possible, and ask for advice when needed. That could be with your dispatcher or the service department or wherever your load is.
- Call home whenever possible. Being out on the road can be very isolating, and you need to connect with the people you love as often as possible. Talk to friends, too. You can complain about the crap and laugh it off together.
- Take care of yourself out on the road. That means eating healthy, getting some exercise in, and avoiding junk foods and too much sugar and caffeine. Truck drivers have some of the worst health problems of any industry. Back problems, knee problems, and all the health issues that come with being overweight are extremely common. It makes doing the job that much harder.
Driving several hundred miles a day, spending time away from your family, and hitting your miles and your deadlines is hard work. Being a truck driver isn’t easy but it can be rewarding. Set yourself up for success by making sure you do things the right way from the very beginning.