Truck driving is tough work. It requires skill, stamina, dedication, and above all, confidence. So before setting off on your first trucking career, you should prepare yourself mentally and physically. Here are 10 tips for rookie truck drivers to help you get started successfully.
Know Your Hazards
As a truck driver, there are always risks that come with the job. The most obvious hazard is the perils of driving in traffic. You have to be alert at all times, and always remember to maintain safe distances between your vehicle and others. You also need to consider the dangers of weather conditions like rain or snow. But don’t forget about more obscure hazards such as animals or people who may get in your way. To stay safe, you should develop a habit of checking around you every few seconds, just as you would if you were crossing through an unfamiliar city. This will allow you to quickly identify potential safety issues before they become problems.
Don’t Get Tired
Your body needs rest, so it’s important to make sure you get enough sleep each night . Many truckers choose to sleep in their vehicles, but this can cause some health problems if done too often. Instead, try sleeping in a different motel each night or even finding another place to sleep if you feel uneasy. If you drive long distances between stops, remember to take frequent breaks for snacks and bathroom trips.
When planning your route, think about where you plan to stop and refuel. Most truck stops allow you to park near the fuel pumps , but if you plan ahead, you could save time by parking further away from the pumps. A good rule of thumb is to set up a 30-minute stop for every 1,000 miles driven. Try not to stop in the same spot two nights in a row, which is when your truck can start getting dirty.
Dress For Success
Always dress appropriately for the outside temperature and weather, since these factors can greatly affect how you feel during the day. Wear layers and bring a windbreaker or sweater along with you. In extremely cold climates, wearing gloves might also be helpful, especially if you plan to use your hands to control the steering wheel or shift gears. You want to keep your hands warm and dry, and avoid putting hot coffee or tea inside your glove compartment. This can cause your hands to sweat and freeze, leading to chapping and painful blisters.
While many truckers prefer to travel light, you ’ll find that you usually need more supplies on board than you expect. Bring everything you’ll need to operate your rig, including food, water, tools, and any needed equipment. Take extra batteries for your radio, engine starter, and other devices. Also, don’t forget to pack your sleeping bag, pillow, and blanket. You don’t want to be caught without them when faced with unexpected delays.
You’ll be surprised at just how much junk and clutter can accumulate in the cab of your truck. With so much stuff flying around, you’re bound to leave items behind. To prevent this, sort your belongings into three categories: things you really need, things you might need, and things you probably won’t need. Store the things you’ll need in a separate box in your vehicle’s back seat, such as fire extinguishers, flares, and other emergency supplies. Keep these boxed items out of reach of curious children or pets. The things you probably won’t need should go in your toolbox, but be careful not to put anything valuable in there that you’ll need later because you might never return.
When driving, try to stay calm and relaxed. You don’t have to be perfect to do well, and truck driving is far less stressful than driving a passenger car. Remember to remind yourself of this fact whenever you encounter road rage or roadblocks that seem to last forever. Also, don’t worry about what other drivers do with their trucks — try to focus only on the road ahead.
Keep On Top Of Bills
It’s easy to let life become unmanageable once you take on the duties of being a full-time trucker. That’s why it’s essential to get organized. Create an Excel spreadsheet (or similar program ) so that you can easily track your expenses, pay bills, and budget for your truck fund. Make sure to pay insurance premiums each month, and keep track of maintenance costs and repairs that must be made.
You shouldn’t wait until your truck breaks down before contacting your local mechanic or service center. Before a problem arises, check your oil levels, fluid levels, and tire pressure regularly. Even minor changes can cost you precious time and money if something goes wrong on your trip.
Find Ways To Socialize
Truckers who spend the majority of their waking hours on the road can have a hard time building friendships. This is especially true of those who spend extended periods of time alone. However, you can still enjoy socializing when you’re on the road. Look for ways to interact with other drivers and travelers – maybe you can trade stories or swap travel tips. There are also plenty of apps and online resources you can use to connect with fellow travelers.
Now that you know how to succeed in the trucking industry, you’re ready to hit the open highway!