Insider Tips & Tricks For New Truck Drivers
It doesn’t matter how many years of experience you have behind the wheel of a passenger vehicle, driving an 80,000-pound semi truck is a whole new ballgame. Finishing truck driving school and passing your CDL exam is just the beginning and there’s still much to learn on the road. To stay safe — to protect yourself and other drivers — and build a successful career, here are a few insider tips for new truck drivers breaking into the industry.
1. Ask CDL instructors and veteran truckers for job referrals
The job market is currently in favor of truckers. This means you can be selective about who you work for. Before applying for any and every open entry-level position, reach out to your CDL instructors and experienced truckers for job referrals and recommendations. Find out which companies treat truckers well and ask for insider information on what to expect.
2. Set expectations
You wouldn’t enter a relationship without setting expectations so be sure to set the ground rules for salary, lifestyle, time off at home, and the way you’ll be treated by the employer.
3. Avoid “job hopping”
Job applicants who have a history of staying at a company for at least one year are more likely to get a job than those who move from company to company every few months.
4. Obsess over safety
Wearing a seatbelt isn’t optional and sleep isn’t a luxury, but a necessity. Follow the DOT Hours-of-Service regulations and take a break if you’re feeling drowsy.
5. Keep it slow and steady
If you’re used to weaving in and out of traffic in your car, then driving an 18-wheeler will test your patience. The best way to avoid accidents is to drive slowly, keep a safe distance between your truck and other vehicles, and stay away from aggressive drivers.
6. Scope new areas on foot
Experienced truckers know better than to drive straight into a parking lot or narrow street without checking it out on foot first. If you enter shipper and receiver facilities the wrong way or pull into lots that aren’t big enough to turn around in, you could lose a lot of time trying to get out — and earn yourself a serious headache.
7. Eat clean & avoid caffeine and sugary drinks
What you eat affects you physically and mentally, which impacts your ability to drive safely. Eliminate foods that will cause dehydration and spike blood sugar and stick to fresh and whole foods.