You just got your commercial driver’s license, so you know how to drive your truck. But do you know how to be a truck driver?
Just like any other job, there’s a learning curve with truck driving and, of course, being a truck driver, some behaviors you will only learn from experience. We boiled it down to these 5 key tips to help you get the best experience while you get comfortable in the driver’s seat.
Tip 1: Courtesy among truckers and the rules of the road
As a trucker, you will be spending most of your time on the road so you might as well make it an enjoyable experience not just for you, but your fellow truckers, too.
On the road:
- If you see another trucker in the left lane trying to pass you and a long line of cars behind him, you might want to slow down a little to make the maneuver easier for him.
- Act like a professional and you will be acknowledged as one as well. Also, a simple wave can change someone else’s day and it doesn’t cost anything!
- Don’t hesitate to pass information to other truckers through CB radio. Such information can be the weather conditions, accidents you may have passed through, or if they have passed a vehicle and can now safely get back into the lane.
Off the road (on parking lots):
- As a start, do not park at the pump. Even if you feel like it’s not going to be that long because you’re just going for a cup of coffee or a short bathroom break, you shouldn’t park at the pump. The reason for this is it might seem like a short time for you, but it probably seems like an eternity for those behind you.
- Try to avoid parking right next to another truck. Everybody needs space, especially when on a break. So, when parking, especially at night, turn off your headlights. Some people might be trying to rest and strong lights breaking the night can disturb their rest, and can even cause headaches.
Tip 2: Get ready to spend time away from home
As a long distance delivery driver, you should be aware that you will most likely spend a huge chunk of your life on the road – away from home. If you have a family – with wife and kids – you should also prepare them and explain to them that you can be gone for weeks at a time. You should be able to explain to them very clearly, especially to kids, why you might miss sports events, family events, or religious events because of your job. Making them understand the nature of your job will be easier for both you and your family and it will be much easier for them to support you.
On the other hand, if you know that you can’t be away from your family and you realize that this isn’t for you, there are still other truck driving opportunities available. You might want to consider looking for a local trucking job that will allow you to be home every night.
Tip 3: Stay healthy
It can be a lot easier for road drivers to neglect their health and just indulge in greasy unhealthy foods from diners because days (and nights) are spent on the road. This is a bad habit, though, and could be costly too. It would be healthier, and cheaper, if you just bring your own lunch and some healthy snacks so you don’t have to eat at a fast food restaurant, roadside diners, or truck stops.
However, if you will be driving long distance which could take you days, or even weeks on the road, consider getting an inverter for your truck (if you don’t have one yet). In most cases, a 2000-watt inverter should be enough to allow you to have some appliances such as a microwave oven to heat your food, or a cooking appliance so you can cook your own food in your truck.
Another thing about over-the-road or OTR driving is the long amount of time you spend sitting in the same position. This can cause a lot of health issues such as back pain, chronic pain, varicose veins, slower metabolism, among other ailments.
As an OTR driver, it is important for you to take regular breaks and exercise as often as you can. Try to have some sort of routine such as walking/running every now and then, or do some pushups or sit-ups. You can even bring dumbbells with you to exercise your muscles. It’s important to exercise post-delivery routine (at the very least) to loosen up your body and get your blood flowing again.
Tip 4: Be aware of your spending
In other professions, you need to gain experience before you can earn big. Same with truck driving – you won’t be earning lots of money immediately after you start driving. So, spending money on unnecessary stuff, especially at the beginning, is a big no no.
We already went over this when we talked about avoiding eating at fast food restaurants, or roadside diners, every other meal. As mentioned above, bringing your own food will also help you save on food costs. To keep you motivated on controlling your spending, a good tip is to set a long-term goal such as buying a house, a new car, or a nice present for your spouse! By tracking and controlling your spending, you can be sure that you have more money left to reach your goals faster.
Tip 5: Take care of your truck
We cannot deny the importance of cleanliness in our lives. Even though you’re spending most of your time on the road, keep your truck clean. Cleaning your truck should be part of your daily routine (or weekly, at the very least). That goes for cleaning it outside and inside, making sure that you clean outside of your haul whenever you can. As for the inside, do not neglect it either, as this will be your home and office as an OTR driver.
Bonus Tip: Get The Right Insurance
As you start with your business full-time, you will be particularly vulnerable to any incident that may happen to you. Having the proper trucking insurance coverage can keep you from going under because of a small mistake.