Tips for New Drivers
Welcome to a new world that few understand and fewer get to experience! Being a truck driver can be a great career for the right person, or simply a job if you choose to make it one. But let’s be clear and honest off the top: The first year is the toughest, so here are a few tips to help you get through.
I’ve heard it said that you shouldn’t begin driving in the winter. So, because I’m really good with instructions, I promptly started driver’s training in the January snow. Winter definitely brings different challenges but you’re already learning something new so just get out there and drive, but drive smart and know your limits. The seasons bring different weather-related challenges from storms to snow, from high winds to ice, and never-ending sunsets burning holes in your retinas, there’s always something to adapt to.
Know Your “Why”
Why are you driving a transport truck? Freedom? Money? Travel? Get away from people? Whatever your reason, own that. There will be times that you wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into. Knowing your “why” will help bring back the focus of the career you’ve chosen, even if it’s just for a season. As they say, keep your eyes on the prize.
Though driving is a mostly solitary pursuit, there will be people to engage with and you need to be ready to navigate the interactions. Shippers, receivers, and dispatch all work with competing demands and you are just a small part of their day. You will need to learn when to accommodate, when to speak up, and when to be clearly assertive. Being the aggressive driver is never an option. Remember this, your interactions don’t reflect only on you, but your company and the image of drivers everywhere.
Your truck is your home, your reputation, and your workplace. We’ve all seen the sweet Pete roll through the lot causing every one of us to turn our heads in envy. If you’re driving that, good on you! If not, take pride in your rig. Keep the inside and outside looking good. Clutter causes chaos so keep the inside looking sharp as well. You’ll be more calm and content inside your rolling office.
You’ll spend more hours in your truck than anywhere else. But it’s vital that you separate your downtime from your trucker life. Take up a hobby and do something that isn’t truck-related. Your hobbies could range from reading to photography, playing ukulele to learning art. I picked up watercolor painting because it took up little space and clean-up was minimal.
Follow the rules
We have more rules placed upon us than Carl the Car Driver. Don’t be a show-off and think you can ignore the rules. The rules are in place for all of us to follow. Whether it’s lane restrictions, bridge heights, stops at the scales, or maintaining your speed, stick with the rules and we all get to where we’re going.
You soon learn everyone wants their load yesterday, but life on the road isn’t always predictable. You’ll get there when you get there, just do your best. There isn’t a load out there that is worth your life, your driving record, or your bank account for the fines you’ll rack up if things go wrong. Don’t rush, you’ll get the job done.
You’ve made the decision to be a truck driver. You’ve invested time and money into your training. You’ve got plenty to be happy about. Keep a smile on your face and be happy.
Enjoy your new life as a truck driver! (And when a little kid wants you to blast the air horn…do it. You’ll smile and the world will be a happier place, even for a moment.)