In order to progress in any profession, you need to work every day on bettering yourself and your skills. Truck driving is no different. So if you have ever wondered, “how can I be a better truck driver?” We have compiled some truck driving tips into five areas that you can work on to help you improve.
1. Work on your skills
At first glance, “work on your skills” might just seem like another way to say “be a better truck driver.” But in this instance we are not talking about simply practicing and gaining experience. Instead, although both are important ways to improve, we are referring to the idea of expanding your knowledge and honing those skills that are not always immediately considered important in driving. So, what are the skills needed to be a good truck driver?
- Good communication
- Time management
- Self government or responsibility
- Critical thinking
- Mechanical knowledge
Some of these skills may be easier to work on than others. Something like an online or practical course may help you become a better mechanic, but creative solutions can help you to improve on others. For example, testing different ways to manage your time outside of work can help you to become better at it while at work, or working on organizing a room in your home can help you to hone your organizational skills at work.
2. Never neglect safety
When you are hauling more than 10,000 pounds in your trailer, safety becomes not just a priority, but a necessity. That is why the best truck drivers are the safest truck drivers. Here are six truck driver safety tips to follow:
- Drive defensively: Be aware of everything that is happening or could happen — both ahead of you and behind you. This allows you to act defensively and prevent accidents or sticky situations before they occur.
- Wear your seatbelt: It’s not only the law, but a matter of utmost safety.
- Check the weather: Any kind of weather conditions can affect how you drive, whether that means bright sunshine affecting visibility or rain causing slick roads.
- Prepare for adverse conditions: Some weather conditions, such as snow, can affect driving more than others. It’s important to not only be aware, but to prepare.
- Stay aware: If you are overly tired, your reaction times will be drastically affected. Always make sure that you are alert and aware when you are behind the wheel.
- Stay DOT compliant: All DOT regulations are designed to keep you and others on the road safe. Remaining compliant is a good way to also ensure that you keep safe.
Few things are more important than safety while on the road. Most truck driving safety topics come down to nothing more than simply being aware and being considerate of others on the road, so if you strive to do that each time you drive, you are well on your way to becoming a better driver.
3. Watch your health
A big part of being a better driver is being healthy. Not only are there safety concerns that come with health issues — hence why the DOT also has medical requirements — but good health can also help you to have a much longer career. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health provides a list of the various medical conditions that truck drivers commonly face. Watching your diet and making an effort to exercise should be a priority for any truck driver.
It’s also incredibly important not to neglect mental health. Stress and loneliness are both problems that can arise if left unchecked. Look into ways that you can manage both of these things while on the road for days at a time.
4. Always double check your vehicle
It can sometimes be easy to skip over the importance of looking after your vehicle as a driver, since certain checks can become routine and maintenance might be viewed as someone else’s problem. However, the best truck drivers are ones who take care of their vehicles, and they often reap the benefits. Pre-trip inspections are not only required by law, but are an important way to prevent accidents and other issues. Another time when it is good to give your vehicle a check is after you park it; just take a look back and make sure everything is right — no lights on, tire issues, or anything else.
5. Maintain a clean driving record
This should be the goal of any driver, but especially those who do it for a living. Maintaining a clean driving record as a truck driver can be the key to promotions, pay raises, and increased job opportunities. If you have a record that is free of accidents and violations, work on continuing to maintain it. But mistakes happen, and even if you have some marks on your record, you can still work to clear them through driving school and other methods — you can read more here.
View more resources below and follow our blog for more truck driving tips, and if you are a driver with at least one year of experience, visit our careers page to view all requirements and current openings.
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