Here are a few new truck driver tips that that will make you life much easier in the short term and long term.
Be organized and stay on top of your paperwork. Keep your log book current with the last change in duty status and abide by the hours of service. This is critical for many reasons. You do not want to ever have a log book violation, ever. Keep the inside of your truck clean and neat. Try to get into the good habit of keeping your windshield, windows and mirrors very clean. This will help you a lot when driving and backing at night.
Be prepared for everything
Keep a gallon of oil, anti-gel fuel treatment and other motor essentials on hand all of the time. Have food in your truck, toilet paper and water. Do not be one of the drivers that has nothing and would die if they were stuck in the desert or mountains for a day. Bungee cords, duck tape, electrical tape and a basic tool kit were essential to me . Why wait for a day on a service truck to fix an air leak when you can do it yourself. If you wear glasses ALWAYS have an extra pair! The same goes for medications/prescriptions you take, always have plenty on hand.
Do not rely on GPS alone
You must be able to read a map and have one in your trunk. GPS does not always give trucks the best route, show scale houses, low bridges and other obstacles. GPS units can break, have no signal and are sometimes just plain wrong. Do not rely on technology, rely on yourself and your skills.
Pay attention to everything
You must get use to reading every road sign, mile marker and road marking. It can be very easy to bypass a scale house, miss a turn or exit if you are not focused on what you are doing. Look in your mirrors every seven seconds, both mirrors. Is smoke rolling off of a locked up brake, who is beside you and what is coming up behind you? You must know these things all of the time while your are in that drivers seat.
The best truck driver tips of the year, have respect for what you are driving and whats behind you (trailer). The amount of energy in a 40 ton vehicle rolling at 3 MPH is huge. Think that is silly? Would you stand between a brick wall and let a truck roll into you at 3 MPH? It would kill you for sure. Imaging the energy at 70 MPH. Do not ever become complacent in what you are doing or you will have an accident. Check out my safety page with real world antecedents.
Work with people
You will never get ahead as a driver by being the bad guy, the outspoken guy or the troublemaker. Take every load you are dispatched, treat shippers like gold even though they suck and things will work better for you. Nobody understands your job except other drivers and nobody is going to care if your exhausted and have been on the road for seven weeks. Just smile and carry on.
Communicate with your driver manager about any problems or delays you are having. They are your back end support and they should respond to you quickly and with the information you need. If you are having issues with your driver manager keep a recorded of the issues and talk to someone in the safety department about it. Safety can be your best friend or your worst enemy. They generally have more pull than any other department within a large trucking company.
Not happy with the current company you are working for?
To bad! You really need to stick it out for at least a year. I know it may seem like forever but it is best to stay. The reason is that companies do not like to hire drivers that switch jobs. The average fleet turnover rate is 97% and it costs a minimum of $5,000 to employ a new driver. Fleets do not like people that add to an already high turnover rate.
Ask questions when you don’t understand
Do not ever assume something. If you are unsure about anything use the resources you have at hand. Contact your safety department, driver manager or ask another driver. Need help backing in, ask another driver if available or use G.O.A.L.
The ultimate new truck driver tips
Take one day at a time, one hour at a time and one minute at a time. Think everything through and do things right the first time!
Live safety today so you can live tomorrow!