I am often asked, what advice would I give to new truck drivers. After traveling several hundred thousand safe miles, I certainly have plenty of thoughts on this subject. For purposes of this article, I'm going to attempt to bring it all back to 2 very important topics - trip planning and practicing patience.
As any truck driver soon finds out, there are what can seem like thousands of things that need to be done to ensure they are driving correctly and legally. There are things that must be done such as a complete and throrough pre-trip inspection. And there are others that should be done for the best results. Over time, all truckers have their "most important" things they do to stay safe out there. With all that being said, I believe the keys to success really come back to these 2 things. Let me explain...
The company I work for gives me ample time to get from point A to point B. This is why I truly love working for them. Trucking is really hard work, but the miles I get and the promises that have been kept really have made my faith in the trucking industry that much stronger. I am given plenty of time to get to to where I need to go; it's up to me to make it happen. Not just once or twice, but always when possible.
Any new driver needs to understand that a good trip plan will do wonders on not only letting you relax when you're heading from coast to coast, but it will also make your trip that much safer. I am governed in my truck and when you are governed it can be really hard to make up that time if you fall behind. A good trip plan can make your stress level lower and also let your company you work for know you're on top of it!
Don't underestimate planning your trips. Do all the miles you legally can in 11 hours and if the company you work for gives you a realistic time frame to get there, you will always be ahead of the game. Yes, even in winter. You certainly can't avoid snow storms, if your company sends you across country and there are storms along the way. But you can drive and get ahead of the game, before you get to the storm and have to chain up.
So please, trip plan! That's what will make you a success and allow you to safely navigate all the craziness around you.
The second piece of advice I would offer to a new truck driver is to practice patience. At the end of the day, practicing patience will help make sure you get home safely to see your family. Practicing patience will allow you to be at peace while the rest of the general public is motoring past you on the road.
By combining a great trip plan with a good deal of patience, things such as getting stuck in Los Angeles traffic, Washington DC beltway traffic, Chicago traffic, or even Seattle ruch hour traffic just won't bother you as much as they used to. Praciting patience in these tough times may very well be the hardest thing you do as a trucker (yes, even harder than backing up in a very tight stop) and I would say it's by far the most beneficial. The patience you observe getting through these times will allow you to get one step closer to 1 million safe miles and beyond!
One last thing about patience...other truckers and 4 wheelers will try and rush you at times. It's up to you to "run your own race." The company you work for is paying you as a professional driver to get where you're going safely. It's expected of you. Your company (hopefully) isn't wondering, "I sure hope Wayne gets there on time and safely." Your company should be expecting you will. When you have a good trip plan in place and incorporate patience, driving around the United States should be much smoother. You should then be able to enjoy the view (safely), from your office seat. While others toil away in a cubicle, work endlessly on the shop line (used to be me), and do jobs they don't really enjoy.
When you practice these key things, you'll be able to sit back and think "I have the best job on the road!" Enjoy it. Embrace it. And keep on rolling - safely.
About The Author
Wayne got his start in trucking by going through the Driver Solutions company paid CDL training program back in 2012. Since then, he has traveled over 300,000 safe miles and counting! After seeing his photos and reading about his adventures, we knew we had to share them on our blog. Join Wayne on his journey for a first hand look at life on the road!