Getting started in a new career as a truck driver can seem a bit overwhelming as there is a lot to learn. Many of our trainers are seasoned veterans of the road who have been out here for many years and can teach you a lot about the reality of this career. Lessons that can never be taught in any classroom. Here are some tips that will help you make the most out of your time with your trainer before you go out on your own.
Approach everything as a new learning experience.
If you are a newbie it’s very important to have an open mind and not be afraid to ask questions. A good trainer will take the time to explain things thoroughly—and in a respectful manner.
Smoker or non-smoker? Be honest.
If you are a smoker, please do everyone a favor and don’t ask to be placed with a non-smoking trainer. If you’re a non-smoker then that same principle applies—ask for a non-smoker to train you.
Avoid topics of discussion such as politics, race, or religion—and the use of profanity.
As Americans, we have the freedom to possess our own beliefs but discussion about certain topics such as politics, race, and religion should be avoided by both the trainer and the trainee. It may cause animosity and tension which can—and often does—interfere with the ability of the trainer and trainee to remain civil to each other during their time together. Keep it clean and act like a professional.
Don’t talk too much—especially about irrelevant stuff!
If you know in your own mind that you are an overly talkative person but can tell that your trainer is a bit more reserved and quiet-natured, don’t become that annoying person that he or she can’t wait to get off their truck. Relax and keep your ears and eyes open for a chance to learn as much as you can.
Brush up on your map reading skills!
A growing majority of people have become increasingly dependent upon GPS units over the last decade while driving their personal vehicles. But it is imperative that a professional truck driver knows how to plan a trip utilizing a Motor Carrier Road Atlas in conjunction with written truck-legal directions to the shippers and receivers they are going to. While a GPS can be used as a tool to help a driver find the streets in their truck-legal directions it should never be relied upon for routing. Besides, a GPS failure is never an acceptable excuse for a late delivery or anything a law enforcement officer wants to hear if you allow yourself to be routed to an illegal route or under a low bridge. It is also important to condition yourself to read the posted road signs as you drive.
Be prepared to take notes!
Bring along a pen and a notepad and use it. A good trainer will be teaching you a lot of stuff that would never be discussed in most driving schools or mentioned in a single textbook. Your notes can be a great resource.
Turn that cell phone off while you are driving!
It is against company policy for a trainee to use their cell phones while driving. Besides, if you have a significant other who insists on blowing up your phone with numerous calls and/or text messages all day long then that can be a distraction for you as well as a source of annoyance for your trainer. You will need to be sure your family members understand this. You can provide them with the number to contact Operations to have a message sent to your trainer’s truck in the event of a legitimate emergency.
There is a limited amount of room on a trainer’s truck for your belongings and only so much of what you have can be held back by the bunk restraint if placed on the top bunk. Besides, you need a place to sleep. The Driver Development Fleet personnel will provide you with a list of what to bring with you.
This is a no-brainer. When it comes to a good image out here it’s important to practice good hygiene. Don’t become that driver who makes a bad impression.