5 Things that Happen to Every Rookie Trucker
Commercial truck driving is not just a business it’s a lifestyle. First year drivers tend to find out very quickly if this is a life they can grow accustomed to or not. Being away from home for long periods of time, facing unknown areas every day, and dealing with the various mishaps of life on the road can weigh heavy on a new driver. The important thing to remember is trucking is like every other profession in that the first year is always the hardest. As a new driver you will find yourself in a variety of stressful situations. Remember your training; ask for help form fellow truckers if you need it. Someone has always been through it at some point. Here are five things every rookie driver should expect to deal with at least once in their first year out on the road.
#1 You Will Get Lost
Whether it’s because you followed outdated map of GPS directions or were forced to find an alternative route because of a traffic accident, you will get lost at least once. Communication is the most important thing here. If you are lost, ask your fellow drivers or your dispatch for directions to your destination. If there is an emergency and your radio is down, get to a phone and let someone know what is happening so that you can be properly assisted in getting back on the road. The worst thing a driver can do when lost is panic, that is when real problems start to happen.
#2 You Will Fall Behind Schedule
You will be late at least once and it might not even be your fault. Ships arrive late to docks, workers take their time unloading, car accidents stop traffic. The road can be more unpredictable than the sea sometimes but you will weather the storm. Get on the radio and let the powers-that-be know what the situation is. Everyone in transport is human and therefore has their own schedule and own mishaps. Keep a cool head and just try to get to your destination as quickly and safely as possible.
#3 You Will Sorely Miss Loved Ones
Few people other than those in the military spend more time away from their families than truckers. Being on the road, alone, and far away from home can be the hardest thing in the world during that first year. Every trucker has their way of coping with it. Develop a routine check-in with your loved ones. Find a hobby to engage in to take your mind off of longing for home. Think about investing a in a lap top and video chatting the family when you are at a truck stop, refueling or just in the midst of a long wait for a load.
#4 Your Truck Will Have a Mishap
Your truck is your business, and every business has something go wrong once in a while. Whether it’s an engine problem, a light out, a window shattered, or a flat tire, GET IT TAKEN CARE OF IMMEDIATELY. Some rookie truckers out there think if their truck is running it’s running good and let the ear piercing screech under the hood go unaddressed for another hundred miles. As a trucker you are out of business without your truck. Constantly check out the tire pressure, the belts under the hood, etc. If you have a minor problem and are only a few miles away from your destination, get your load there and then see what’s going on. Again, judgment is the defining quality of a good trucker.
#5 You Will Drive Short On Sleep
No matter the weather or the traffic the most dangerous time to drive is when you are far behind on sleep. Keeping up with the schedule can be rough which is why it is important to sleep whenever you have downtime. If manage to catch yourself drifting off at the wheel, get some coffee or get some sleep. Either way, get off the road and address this problem immediately. No load is worth your life or a stranger’s in the lane next to you. Keep your rest up, try to sleep even if you think you’re not tired because at some point you will be driving through the night to try and make delivery on time.
Mark Kinsel is the President of Driver Solutions and for the past 19 years has passionately shared his knowledge and experience to help young truckers find their way. When he isn’t showing a trainee the ropes of the road he writes for Great CDL Training, a national leader in commercial truck driver training.