Truck Driving Tips to Help You Be the Best Truck Driver
Being the best truck driver is much more than driving well. Your attitude, knowledge and the ability to adapt and pay attention also play a strong part in being one the best out there. When you attend a good truck-driving school such as Southwest Truck Driving Training School, you’ll not only learn how to drive a truck and gain insights into the trucking industry, you’ll practice some of the skills and develop the characteristics you need to be the best driver you can be on the road.
Attitude, Adapt and Attention
Over and above anything else, you need to have a positive attitude when you get into a bind that is out of your control. Overreacting will make the situation much worse, so it’s a good idea to look at things with a level head. This makes it easier to adapt to different situations, including being on the road for days or weeks at a time. When you drive a truck over the road, it’s not a 9-to-5 job. You might be working late and you might not make it home for over a week, depending on the delivery.
Adapting to being away from family or to being alone if you don’t have a partner with you is something that you must do right from your first trip. Having a good attitude helps just as knowing how to adapt helps keep the attitude in check.
Paying attention to the road is one of the most important parts of being a good driver. Even with the challenges and stresses, you have to keep your mind on what you are doing. You’ll run into less trouble that way, and by trouble, we mean getting yourself into a situation where you can’t turn around or getting into an accident because other drivers don’t realize how long it takes to stop a big rig.
Dependence and Reliability
As a driver, you have a lot of responsibility. You must be able to pick up and deliver loads on time. While this sounds easy, it’s not always easy. Things get in the way, whether it’s a breakdown, traffic, an emergency at home or not having the help to unload the cargo. A good trucker makes himself or herself the solution to issues, not part of the problem.
Keeping up your knowledge base, including knowing how to maintain your truck or even do minor repairs out on the road is part of being the solution. Even team drivers are on their own because once out on the road, they are not near where they can get the technical support they need, especially if you are driving in remote and/or mountainous areas.
Managing your personal life also makes you a more reliable driver. If you can’t take a load because of personal reasons other than emergencies, then you’re part of the problem. If you don’t have a spouse to help with things on the home front, enlist the help of a trusted relative or good friend. They should be able to handle any crises that come up while you are on the road.
One of the best skills you can have is mechanical skills. Often, you could fix the truck on the road with a few tools and a little bit of knowledge. And, you will be able to keep your truck safe. If you can replace a light bulb or a fuse, your truck is safer. If you can replace a broken hose or belt, or fix a broken air line, you’re back on the road without having to waste the time and money for a tow or a mobile mechanic. Carrying a set of hand tools and some extra lights, belts, hoses and fuses will make a trip a lot easier if you can just do it yourself.
Courtesy and Honesty
It doesn’t take much to be nice to someone, especially other truckers and dock workers. And, stay honest. Don’t fudge on your paperwork to get over on laws and regulations that are in place to keep you and others on the road safe. Instead, do the job by the books to keep everyone safe and to keep your employer happy. And, if you are self-employed, working honestly keeps you from paying fines. Make sure your truck isn’t overweight and that you keep your time books and/or electronic logs up to date.
Stay Fit and Alert
Many people think that driving a truck isn’t a physical job. However, even with power steering, you’ve got to be fit enough to handle that big rig. And, if you happen to get a delivery where you have to off-load yourself, you’ll need to be able to do it quickly and safely without damaging the cargo. Staying fit also helps you to stay alert while you are on the road.
Licenses and Driving Records
The better your driving record is, the more chances you’ll get for getting high-dollar loads. These are loads that need an extremely reliable and experienced driver. It may be a load that has to get to a remote place by a close deadline or it may be an oversized or combustible load that takes extra care to deliver. In addition to having an excellent driving record, be sure that any license, including your CDL, is kept up to date, even if you have to take a test and/or a class to keep that license or permit updated.
Tips for Driving Your Best
- After you park your truck, always take a walk around it. Make sure all the lights are off and that it’s safely parked.
- Always know where your trailer is. While that sounds funny, it can be dangerous if you cut a corner too sharp so that the trailer hits another vehicle or tears down a utility pole.
- Always inspect your truck before you leave the yard. Even if you just drove in and unloaded, check the truck before you leave. Inspect it just as you would if you were just starting the trip. You may catch a problem that arose on your last drive. And, if you are stopped by a DOT officer, you’ll be able to tell him or her that you inspected your truck before you left and you found nothing wrong.
Visit Southwest Truck Driver Training
To learn more about truck driving careers, visit Southwest Truck Driver Training. Learn more about our available programs and what we do to ensure you stay up-to-date on trucking industry news.