Starting a new career is likely to make anyone a bit nervous. Even if you’ve done well throughout your commercial driver’s license (CDL) training, it can be daunting to hit the road on your own. Your first year as a new truck driver is an opportunity to hone the skills you’ve developed during trucking school and to develop new skills.
If you approach your time as a rookie with a positive attitude and a willingness to learn, you’ll have a strong foundation for a rewarding career in the trucking industry. However, there are also some mistakes that new drivers tend to make. You should be aware of these and do your best to avoid them.
Some of the top mistakes for rookie truck drivers:
Long-haul truckers are typically paid per mile. One great thing about this is that it gives you more control over what you earn. If you put in the work to get in more miles, you can increase your earning potential.
That being said, it takes time to learn how to maximize your miles while remaining safe. Don’t compare yourself to experienced drivers, as this can cause you to put a lot of pressure on yourself and cause you to rush when you should slow down.
Never speed in your semi-truck and make sure you always take the time you need to drive safely, even if it takes a little longer. Staying accident-free for your first year will put you in a much better place than pushing yourself too hard and causing a collision.
2. Not Trip Planning
Trip planning is the process of mapping out your route, including making a plan for where to stop for your breaks. There are many applications that can help you do this, so it’s easier than ever.
Don’t make the mistake of skipping a trip plan or not putting enough time into it. It’s stressful to not have a place to park when it’s time to shut down for the day, and an effective trip plan means you’ll have a backup in case this happens.
3. Ignoring Your Health
It’s important to do what you can to stay healthy on the road. This includes eating well, staying hydrated, exercising when you can, and getting enough sleep. Doing these things can minimize your stress and many of them also help you stay more alert, improving your safety.
The habits you create during your first year set the tone for the rest of your trucking career, so prioritize your health. Make time to take care of yourself and set health-related goals to keep yourself accountable.
4. Thinking Trucking Doesn’t Require People Skills
Although truck drivers spend most of their days alone in their trucks, it is a mistake to assume you don’t need to interact with others at all. In fact, the best truckers have excellent people skills.
Communication is a huge part of trucking. Make an effort to create a positive relationship with the individuals you interact with as a new driver. Whether you’re talking to a customer, your dispatcher, or a fellow trucker, aim to make a positive impression.
5. Not Asking Your Help
You may be tempted to try to handle every issue on your own. This is likely to become frustrating very quickly. Asking for help makes it easier to find a solution. You can ask other truckers who work with your company or post to a forum online. There are many experienced drivers who are eager to help a newbie learn. After you’ve gotten some experience under your belt, be sure to return the favor for rookies you encounter.
Start Your Trucking Career With HDS
At HDS Truck Driving Institute (HDS truck driving school), we can help you earn your CDL in as little as four weeks. Our experienced instructors give you the tools you need to succeed and we offer job placement assistance to help you start your career as quickly as possible.