Whether you’re just starting out or have been a professional driver for years, we have some tips and advice to help make your journey easier. As a truck driver it’s essential to maintain your health, happiness, safety, and efficiency on the road. Follow the tips below to get up to speed quickly on what it takes to build a successful driving career from the start. Spoiler alert: the best thing you can do is leave early. Read on to learn more.
- Make it to your appointments on time
Take your appointment times seriously and ensure that you’re showing up when expected. This is a major factor of consideration to a company in understanding what drivers are dependable assets to the company. Many different things trickle in when you prove yourself reliable from how you’re treated, the jobs you’re assigned, and even pay increases. This may take careful planning on your part at times, but it will be worth it to ensure you’re always driving legally and making your appointment times. The best thing you can do is leave early so you have plenty of time for anything that can arise on the road such as traffic, road closures, detours, etc. If you leave early, you can stay calm and patient through whatever the road throws at you and still make your appointments on time.
- Don’t be hasty
When you’re rushing, you often compromise quality or performance. We’re all much more prone to overlook things, cut corners, or miss necessary instructions when we’re trying to go too fast, so it’s best to plan well so you can slow down and take your time. These compromises can lead to bigger issues down the road, so you’ll want to be proactive, leave early, and plan ahead. Make this a part of your regular routine early on and the habit will be set. Plus, you’ll enjoy smoother sailing as a result.
- Practice patience
Out on the road there are so many situations that can arise that will test our patience. If you continue to exercise your patience, you’ll be much more prepared to respond calmly when these situations occur. It can be tempting to speed; it can be difficult to sit in rush hour traffic; and it can be down-right infuriating when a 4-wheeler zooms by you only to end up next to you at the next light. Being patient not only keeps you safer on the road, but also helps with your stress levels, blood pressure and overall health. Once again, if you plan ahead, and leave early, you’ll be much more prepared to go with the flow.
- Practice your backup game whenever you can
Mastering backing can be a gamechanger in safety and efficiency, but the only way to truly master it is to practice as often as possible. If you’re pulling into a truck stop at the end of the day, take an extra moment to practice backing into a tight spot even when there are no other vehicles around. The more you practice the more you’re prepared, so when it matters most, you’ve gained the skills to back your rig into any tricky location with ease. That narrow driveway that requires street backing will have nothing on you!
- Develop your communication skills and be the bigger person when conflict arises
Professional relationships can sometimes be tricky and there will be times that disagreements arise between you and other drivers, or dispatch, or even customers. When someone is lacking in communication skills this can make these interactions more difficult. If both parties are lacking communications skills, bigger problems can arise. The important thing is not to stoop to someone’s level of ignorance or anger. They don’t know what they don’t know, they’re going through their own thing, and if your attitude remains positive in the face of conflict, you can often diffuse the situation, and maintain a positive ongoing relationship. If, however, you come back at them at their same level, you can often make the situation worse.
- Take care of your health
It’s important to make sure that you’re moving your body, getting exercise, and eating well. It can be all too easy to fall into a routine that doesn’t include exercise or that relies too heavily on snacks and junk food. Learn a few heathy recipes you can cook in your truck. Keep healthier snacks on hand, patron restaurants with healthy options, and ensure that you’re creating time and space for movement in your schedule. You’ll also want to ensure your stress levels stay low. Using some of the tips above can help with this. Leave early, plan ahead, practice patience, and maintain good communication in your professional relationships – these things can go a long way in maintaining healthy stress levels which lead to better overall health.
New truck drivers, welcome to the profession! It’s a great way to see the country and earn a good living. These tips should help you get your career started off on the right foot. Be safe out there and take care of yourself. Happy driving!