Strategies Truck Drivers Can Use to Be Successful
Being a successful truck driver entails much more than simply good driving skills. In fact, while most of your time is spent driving, it’s these other strategies or skills that can make or break your career.
Make Safety a Priority
Being in care and control of your tractor and trailer comes with serious responsibilities and potentially serious consequences. Whether you are rolling across the country on I-80 or maneuvering through a tight shipping yard, make safety a priority. Be aware of your surroundings - It seems impossible but injury victims still claim they didn’t see the transport truck so you need to remain vigilant, keeping safety a priority.
And safety isn’t just about the movement of your truck. Ensure your loads are secured and balanced – and be THAT driver who gets out and completes their daily inspections. Also, wear your reflective vest, be seen, and be safe.
Get Along with Others
Other people have an uncanny ability to make or break your day. Fortunately, most people can be softened with kindness. Take the high road and strive to get along with others, whether the shipper/receiver, the fuel island cashiers, or the DOT who pulled you in from the scales. Your attitude goes a long way in easing potential conflict.
More than once, my kindness has moved me ahead of the line for shipping or receiving - I’m not saying it should be that way, but most times the shipper/receiver is in a power position and can cause you lengthy delays. Let your kindness work in your favor.
Many drivers like to hack on dispatchers, but they are the lifeline to your paycheck. Stay in their good graces and they will look after you. You don’t have to become best friends with them, but be friendly, kind, and civil. When you have a good relationship you can be fairly certain that they will keep the miles rolling.
Basically, keep your attitude in check and get along with others
Be On Time, All the Time
No one appreciates that person who is late, causes delays for others, and is a general inconvenience during the day. Strive to be a driver of integrity and make it to your pick-ups and deliveries on time, all the time. You know when you need a repair done at your home and the company representative says, “We will have a technician come out Thursday or Friday between 8 and 4,” ya, that’s convenient. Don’t be like that. Schedules often revolve around the shipping and receiving of freight, making your professionalism essential to the flow of production and business operations.
Be Willing to Learn
It doesn’t matter if you’re a new driver, or the most seasoned driver on the road, you will always have something to learn. Be willing to accept what you don’t know and embrace the chance to become better with new knowledge.
Make it a goal to learn something new daily, weekly, or monthly, but never stop learning. Learning makes every day a bit more interesting, and every day you can become more successful in your chosen career.
Consider a Niche
Consider a niche. While the majority of drivers are hauling dry vans, choosing a niche can bring you a unique satisfaction on the job. I worked with a driver who took a season off from our LTL dry van work to venture into the logging industry. While the money was excellent, he returned after his first season with new skills and an appreciation for a new industry. For him, logging wasn’t his niche, but he tried it. Once you have some experience under your belt, consider a new venue such as flatbed, heavy equipment, or tanker.
Consider getting into an industry that you have a personal connection to such as transporting concert equipment, livestock, or racecars. If you have a personal interest in the freight you are hauling, the job becomes personal and takes on a new level of satisfaction.
Make the Most of Downtime
Finally, make the most of your downtime. To be successful in trucking and maintain a level of satisfaction, remember that you still have personal interests, friends, and family. Use your downtime to connect with loved ones, go to the gym or for walks, or even take up that new hobby. Your downtime doesn’t need to be spent alone in the bunk with nothing but lonely thoughts. In fact, your downtime is one of the best perks of the job - when you’re done for the day the time is yours to do as you please.