There are a number of new or aspiring drivers out there that think since they can drive a car, they can drive a truck. There is a myth that being a good truck driver really isn’t that hard, and you can make easy money driving. While it is true that driving a truck can be a rewarding career, and being an owner-operator will allow you to make a good income, it is not true that you can just jump into a truck and be successful. If you are just getting started, here are a few points to keep in mind so your career is as smooth as possible.
It takes time to become an experienced driver
The biggest mistake that new drivers make is thinking they know what they’re doing because they have logged some training hours. But as with every career, there are things that you will learn along the way that no amount of training can prepare you for. For instance, life on the road can be physically (and mentally) exhausting. If you have never spent all day every day on the road, you can get burned out pretty quickly. Set your mileage goals lower while you get used to driving, then increase those goals as you get a feel for driving long distances.
Traffic is not your friend
Nobody likes getting stuck in traffic, no matter what size of a vehicle they are driving. Combine that with the fact that you have a big vehicle, you’re on a schedule, every minute you sit idling you’re burning fuel costing you money, and traffic can become downright painful. When you are getting to populated areas, you may be better served to skip the direct route, and take a few back roads in order to avoid detrimental traffic. In addition, try to avoid the rush hour traffic by showing up earlier in the morning.
Load and unload earlier
The beginning of the day for most businesses is when they are the least busy. That means if you get there right when they open, you can load and unload a whole lot faster than if you arrive in the middle of the day, or at the end of the workday. By scheduling your trip so you drive into the city before traffic gets busy, you can get to your destination right as they are opening up. You will be back on the road faster, be more efficient, and have a lot less stress.
Legal driving limits shouldn’t be pushed
Legally you can be behind the wheel for only a set number of hours before you are required to stop. Even if you are pushing for good time, don’t push these limits. Driving while tired is one of the leading causes of accidents, and when you are driving a fully loaded truck, you owe it to the other drivers on the road to keep them safe. If you feel like you’re getting tired, and you are still well away from your legal limit of hours, take a break and nap for 30 minutes. You will be refreshed and able to drive much more safely than if you stopped for some caffeine.
Becoming a veteran driver
There are a lot of things about driving a truck that can only be learned by actually driving a truck. Pay attention to what works the most efficiently, and what wastes your time. Then alter your techniques. Keep these tips in mind when you are setting out, and when you stop for the evening, talk to veteran drivers. Find out what they have found to work over the years. Emulate them to have a safe, successful, and lucrative career.
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