The trucking industry is booming in the United States. Being a truck driver has a lot of rewards, but it can also be quite stressful and overwhelming in the first few months as you learn how to do everything that is required of you. Even experienced drivers hit curbs or miss a turn, but they know how to avoid turning that small mistake into a larger one. We’d like to offer these new truck driver tips to help you make the most of your new career. Here are some of the most common rookie truck driver mistakes:
One of the most common rookie truck driver mistakes is neglecting your paperwork, mismanaging your time and not handling money wisely. When you are unorganized, it leads to stress and frustration which can definitely affect your driving.
- Know the rules that affect your hours of service. Plan for rest stops and breaks before you get out on the road.
- Make sure you understand the regulations on your current load.
- Do your paperwork as you go. Don’t try to remember it at the end of the week. Spending 15 to 20 minutes every day handling the paperwork ensures you get paid on time and avoid hefty fines for not having an up-to-date logbook.
- Track expenses. Save receipts. Keep your cab clean and tidy. Have all paperwork for the current load at the ready to provide it when it’s needed.
You’d be surprised how many truck drivers get lost on their first few runs. When you’re in the cab, it’s easy to miss exit signs or signs that alert you to a truck-only route. You have a lot on your plate, but if you do take a wrong turn, the worst thing you can do is to panic. The mistake isn’t necessarily in getting lost, but in how you handle finding the right route. Instead, stay calm and be prepared to get out of the situation.
- Find a safe place to pull over
- Check the GPS and make sure the address is entered correctly
- Call the company and ask for directions once you can describe where you are
- Get on the CB radio and ask for help
Avoid getting lost by not relying on just the navigation system to get you where you need to go. Google Maps won’t always tell you about truck-restricted routes or low bridges. Use a motor carriers’ road atlas to plan your route in advance. As a driver, you have to be efficient while considering practical routes for your larger vehicle.
Not Taking Care of Yourself
As with any job, you may have to work when you’re tired of stressed, but as a truck driver, you are handling tons of equipment and product on the road. Dispatchers, family issues, law enforcement, fatigue and weather changes can all lead to catastrophes with devastating results if you lose your cool. You have to take care of yourself by taking breaks and sleeping adequately on those breaks. No assignment is worth an accident.
Take care of your health with these newbie truck driver tips
- Don’t abuse caffeine or energy drinks. In a pinch, they can keep you going for a little while, but when the effects wear off, you will figuratively crash.
- When you take breaks, use them to take care of yourself. Stretch your legs by taking a walk. Take a shower. Get sleep. As a driver, you are expected to keep your blood pressure within healthy guidelines. You can’t do that without taking care of yourself.
- Eat well. Shop at the grocery store for fresh fruit and healthy snacks to pack in the cab with you. When you do eat at a restaurant, choose lean meats that are broiled or grilled, not fried or sautéed. Ask for salads and vegetables instead of French fries and starches. Better nutrition makes you feel better and more alert.
- Face it, you may get homesick. Have a way to deal with those feelings. Ask your family to make videos that help you keep up with what your kids are doing. Call your friends and family when you have time. Focus on your goals, much like an athlete does when they’re training. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you.
Not Asking for Help
So many people avoid using the resources available to them, but as a truck driver, you need to know when to ask for assistance and use the information that your company is giving you. The safety department in the organization is not an enemy. The safety officers are just as concerned with your success as you are. Your dispatcher may not be happy when you are running late, but it’s better to keep them informed than to try and pull the wool over their eyes. Ask for help when you need it. Always thank people for information and advice, even if you disagree. You never know when you may run into that person again. Be gracious and leave a good impression.