After earning your commercial driver’s license (CDL), you’ll be ready to hit the road for your first truck driving job. You’ll continue to learn and grow throughout your career and the first year after graduation is an opportunity to build a strong foundation. Rookie truck drivers who start good habits when they are first on the road set themselves up for success.
Some tips for new drivers:
1. Make Safety a Priority
Safety should always be your top priority on the road and it’s important to keep this in mind from the start of your career. Driving a semi-truck is a big responsibility and you need to make sure you are not putting yourself or others on the road at risk.
More so than focusing on the number of miles, make it a goal to stay accident-free for your first year. Trying to fit in more miles may seem like a good idea, but you should never sacrifice safety. A clean driving record and a solid reputation will increase your earning potential more in the long term.
- Slow down if you need to. A tractor-trailer takes a long time to stop and the faster you are going, the more dangerous this can be. Keep in mind that the posted speed limit may be too fast depending on the conditions.
- Get enough rest. Fatigued driving is comparable to drunk driving in terms of risk. Always follow hours of service (HOS) rules and set a consistent sleep routine to make it easier to get the rest you need.
- Get out and look (GOAL) when backing. You may not be able to see everything from inside your cab.
- Drive defensively. Stay alert and adjust to changing conditions.
2. Practice Good Communication
Communication is a key skill for truckers to possess. This can be surprising at first since many people consider trucking a solitary job. While it is true that you’ll spend a lot of time alone behind the wheel, you will also need to communicate with your dispatcher as well as customers during pick-ups and drop-offs. Be polite, stay positive, and keep everyone up to date if there are any issues on the road.
3. Build Healthy Habits
There are many benefits to the trucking lifestyle, such as seeing more of the country and the potential to earn high pay. However, there are also unique challenges, and your first year as a rookie truck driver is a great time to create habits that help you address those challenges.
It’s easier to eat healthy on the road if you are used to this from the beginning. Try meal planning and choose healthier options when you eat at restaurants or truck stops. You may even be able to cook in your truck with small appliances like a slow cooker or hot plate.
An exercise routine is also important for your health. There are many exercises you can do in a truck and you can also run or walk around truck stops. Find what works best for you and stick with it.
4. Have A Positive Mindset
Trucking is a career that rewards those who work hard and keep improving. If you come into it with a positive mindset and a drive to succeed, it can make your first year and every year after that a lot easier. When challenges arise, think about what you can learn from them instead of focusing on the negative aspects. Keep in mind that the more time you spend the road, the more you’ll learn and the easier it will be.
Start Your Trucking Career With High-Quality Training
If you are interested in becoming a truck driver, Phoenix Truck Driving Institute can help. You can earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) in as little as four weeks and we offer job placement assistance.