Tips For New Truck Drivers
March 21, 2019
March 21, 2019
Ever wondered what there is to know about truck driving before getting started? After all, starting your new life on the road can seem like a daunting task. New truck drivers have to get used to many things that people in traditional careers never have to contend with. While the thrill of taking a big rig out on the open road will keep pushing you along, it can be good to have some things in mind as you start out on your journey. In this spirit, we’ve put together some tips for new truck drivers and some useful truck driving skills to keep in mind.
Don’t Let Recruiters Deceive You
Unfortunately, many recruiters will tell you whatever they think you want to hear, without much to back it up. Ensure that what they’re telling you you’re entitled to is actually what you will receive as part of your compensation or starting setup. Recruiters are at times known to “embellish the truth” (see, lie), to get drivers onboard, and then let another department deal with any potential fallout down the line – once a trucker has already signed on the dotted line and has far less legal recourse. This isn’t to say that there are no honest recruiters, just to watch out that you don’t get taken advantage of.
Decide What You Want From Trucking
Work out what it is you want to accomplish as a trucker, what’s important to you, and what you refuse to compromise on. Do you want to push yourself as hard as possible for the highest possible income, are you after the best overall compensation package in terms of benefits, holiday pay and more, or are you more of a homebody who wants to get as many hours back in your own four walls as possible? Making these decisions early on is wise, as it will save you from jumping into partnerships with trucking companies that don’t serve your own personal agenda as much, which you may end up regretting.
Do Your Best To Take On Loads – But Know When To Say No
The current “capacity crunch” (trucker shortage) is giving carriers the ability to be pickier than usual when choosing their jobs. For truckers – particularly owner-operators or hotshot drivers – this is a great situation to be in, allowing them to pick and choose who to work for without making too many compromises. At the same time, this doesn’t mean you should treat shippers as dispensable. Your own reputation is built on the loads you do carry, and saying yes to as many loads as you can
If you’re planning to work for a company directly, this also applies in theory. Make sure the company ticks your boxes, and then jump in and show them what you’ve got!
Backing Up Your Truck Is Tough – But You’ll Pick It Up
Driving forward has its own challenges, but reversing a truck is where the true challenge lies. Especially as a beginner truck driver, you may be feeling a little anxious at the thought of backing up with someone else’s load sitting in the back of your trailer, but don’t let it get to you.
First, never be afraid to jump straight into the G.O.A.L methodology. Get Out And Look. The other drivers out there have all been in your shoes at one point and will be happier that you’re taking your time while backing up rather than clipping their mirror, or worse.
If you’re driving with a partner, you can ask them to get out and act as a spotter for you, giving you additional peace of mind.
Finally – if you don’t have to back up, don’t. If there’s an option that allows you to pull into a space normally, go for it. Backing up will come to you over time but there’s no need to rush it.
Don’t Let Other Drivers Get To You
Compared to most other drivers on the road, you’ll be driving far more miles and far more hours over the course of any given week. You’ll likely be confronted with numerous situations that will get your blood pressure rising, but don’t let it get to you. If you want to survive long-term as a truck driver just try to file these situations in the “annoying but I’m bigger than this” department in your head, and move on. Just try to relax and enjoy your time on the road; every shipment is a new journey and a new chance to discover new experiences and places.
Stay Healthy, From The Get-Go
Truck driving is, unfortunately, a fairly sedentary lifestyle, and if you don’t stay on top of it, it will lead to health complications – or at the very least, weight gain. This is something we discussed in more detail in our post on how to stay healthy as a truck driver, but the core idea is simple – get into healthy habits right from the start. Make the most of downtime and breaks by performing small but regular workouts, avoid fast food as much as possible while preparing healthy meals in bulk in advance, and cut out smoking entirely and alcohol as much as possible.
Stress is also a key health issue that manifests in more invisible ways. As we mentioned above, taking to heart the idea of not allowing other drivers to stress you out can be a start, but also making sure you get enough sleep is crucial to avoid stress overwhelming you. While it can be tough to entirely avoid, staying fit and healthy and getting enough rest can often be enough to keep stress at bay. If not, make sure you find someone to talk to – try not to let the stress build up until it’s unmanageable.
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