TRUCK DRIVING TIPS TO HELP NEW DRIVERS SUCCEED.
At first, driving may seem a little like trying to understand how zero factorial equals one. It can be a little confusing. With time comes experience, and before you know it, you’ll be dominating the road with confidence. We interviewed drivers with over 20 plus years experience and created a list of truck driving tips and rookie mistakes.
SPEED & SPACE MANAGEMENT
You’re not racing in the Daytona 500. “If you’re going 75 mph, you’re basically out of control,” shares experienced driver, Sam Walker. If you start seeing break lights, slow down to avoid a hard break and end up parking in the backseat of someone’s Honda Civic. When it comes to your trailer, it can be fairly common to underestimate the size. Practice backing into spaces during your downtime. Your truck requires special maneuvering. The more you practice backing your blind spot, 45-degree, and 90-degree angles, the more confidence you’ll have on the road.
PLOT YOUR ROUTE
Where are you going? When will you get there? What’s your backup plan? One of our trainers, Donald Shay, allows himself more time by calculating his routes at 50 mph. This ensures he arrives at his destination in a timely manner. In a world of technology, it is vital you learn how to read a map. GPS is a great tool, but don’t let it be the only tool you rely on to get you safely to your destination. This is one of the most important truck driving tips our experienced drivers shared – which brings us to our next tip – getting lost.
As a new driver, it’s not uncommon to find yourself lost. It happens even with the best trip planners. An unexpected detour can throw your whole plan off. It’s easy to make a bad situation worse, so try to stay calm. Find the nearest safe location to stop. Once safely parked, take a deep breath and gather your thoughts. Look at your map and figure out where you are and how you can get yourself back on track. If a bad situation arises, don’t be ashamed to call the local police and ask for directions. They are there to help and have a broad knowledge of the area.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Never push yourself when you’re feeling exhausted. Call your asset manager and see if you can get your loads rescheduled – chances are you can. There may be weeks that are more tiresome than others. Take a day off when you need to. Pay attention to what you eat. As Donald Shay says “Say your prayers and eat your vegetables.” Limit yourself to just one to two times a week to eat out. When you do, opt for healthier options like whole grains or choose salad bars offering a variety of fresh vegetables. Lastly, if you need a doctor while on the road, download the Amwell app to virtually connect to doctor. If you’re feeling terrible, your doctor can prescribe a prescription and you can start to recover sooner.
WATCH YOUR FINANCES
Chances are you’re on the road to provide for your family, so staying on budget is important. Always keep a small amount of cash with you because cash is universally accepted. However, for safety reasons, never carry more than one to two hundred dollars at a time. If you have an inverter, purchase a small fridge or cooler so you can keep food on your truck. In addition, if you are budgeting for your family, make sure you communicate expenses with your significant other. This will save a lot of stress and potential overdraft fees.
Communication is the top priority for success in just about any career. Ask more experienced drivers the questions or concerns you might have. They’re more than likely willing to help and will give you advice that can aide in a variety of areas. Communicate with Operations as soon as possible any time there’s a change in plans, especially for delivery times. If you call your manager and let them know you’re running approximately 20 minutes late, they’ll be able to ensure its okay on the other end.
DON’T TRUST OTHER PEOPLE ON THE ROAD
“You literally have to be ready for the bad drivers to do anything,” says Walker. Keep your eyes sharp and have a good knowledge of what’s going on around you. A fraction of a second can change your life forever.
This career is not for the faint-hearted. It takes experience to become an expert. As Sam Walker states, “Listen to the old guys. They have been driving since you were a kid.” Seek out advice from your peers and continue pushing yourself. Eventually you’ll be sharing your truck driving tips with someone new too!