Hitting the Road: Tips for New Drivers
People become truck drivers for a variety of reasons — sometimes it’s the allure of the open road, sometimes it’s the best job opportunity available, sometimes it’s the fact that you have truckers in your family.
Regardless, everyone starts off as a newbie. There’s a lot you need to know in order to be successful.
Here are some great tips that will help you make the most of your first few years on the road.
Two Ears, One Mouth
There’s a saying that you have two ears and one mouth so that you know to listen twice as much as you talk. This principle applies to people from all walks of life, but as a new driver it is especially important to listen carefully to what you’re taught.
Not everything you’re told will be 100% true or useful. However, listening will allow you to sort reality from nonsense and get a true sense of what the industry is like.
Don’t believe everything you hear, but listen carefully and avoid interrupting or assuming you already know everything.
Be Willing to Work Your Way Up
It’s common for new drivers to hear stories about dream jobs at specific carriers or to get advice about the highest-paying types of driving work.
The best advice is:
- Take these stories with a grain of salt
- Realize it takes time to understand the industry and find the right fit you
- Understand that having a high time of service is important, and avoid job-hopping
Your first job is not likely to be your best job. Don’t worry about that — getting started and building experience and incident-free time so you can land the better jobs you find out about later.
Take Care of Your Mental and Physical Health
You might not realize it at first, but driving is mentally and physically taxing. It’s essential to take care of yourself.
To take care of your mental and physical health, consider these ideas:
- Use downtime to keep your mind sharp with crossword puzzles, Sudoku, or even jigsaw puzzles
- Learn new things as you drive using audiobooks or podcasts
- Stay in touch with your family and friends through video calls, text messages, and more
- Get enough high-quality sleep
- Move your body regularly with stretching and walking
- Consider getting a membership to a nationwide gym and taking an uber there from the truckstop on your downtime
Taking care of yourself will allow you to not only enjoy your work and life more, but it will also give you a longer career, and you’ll be able to earn more.
Focus on Safety
Your first few years focus on avoiding accidents and staying safe. As you build up time without accidents, you’ll have better opportunities.
How? Practice backing often, and always GOAL — Get Out And Look. Drive responsibly and don’t cut corners, no matter how much other drivers encourage you to. Keeping everything up-to-date and clean will help you build a good reputation and open doors for you in the future.
Know What to Expect at Facilities
Different facilities will have different rules and requirements, and quite frankly, different customer service levels. Knowing what to expect makes a big difference.
How do you find out? Ask other drivers and find out what the facility has shared about their requirements. Don’t be shy about calling ahead and asking questions, either, especially as a new driver. You don’t want to find out too late that the hours say they close at 4, but they stop taking deliveries at 3:30.
Along with that, you can use Dock411. We’re committed to improving transparency in the trucking industry, which means allowing both facilities and drivers to share information about what to expect at different warehouses, where nearby parking is, and more.
When you get both sides of the story, you’ll be much more prepared for your drop-off.
Enjoy Your Trucking Career!
Trucking can be a rewarding career, and there are a wide variety of opportunities in the industry. From flatbeds to tankers to specialty fields like oil and logging, there’s no end to the different types of trucking available.
We wish you a great career in trucking — stay safe and enjoy the road, driver!
- On January 26, 2023
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