When you’ve been a truck driver for awhile, whether you’re an owner-operator or you work for a company, you become very experienced and you start to know what to expect. However, that comes with time, and although some truck drivers fall easily into the job and lifestyle, there are some very common truck driving rookie mistakes that are made every day.
Read over our list of the most common truck driving rookie mistakes, and perhaps you won’t make them yourself.
Not Checking The Load
Before shutting your doors and locking your truck up, check the load to make sure it’s the correct one. There are many drivers who hook up to the wrong trailer and drive hundreds of miles before they realize that they are driving the wrong load.
Not only is this embarrassing; it’s also expensive and a huge waste of time. If you do this, you will have to return the load to its original destination.
Take a few extra moments to check the load and make sure it’s right.
Even with today’s sophisticated GPS systems, if you’re a new truck driver, chances are you’ll get lost from time to time. You’ll be in new, unfamiliar areas, and from your seat it can be surprisingly easy to miss exit signs. Heavy rain can also make it easy to miss things. It happens.
The best way to handle this if it happens to you (and it will) is to find somewhere to pull over safely, check your directions, make sure you entered the address correctly, and find out where you are.
If you need to, you can also call the shipper for directions once you know where you are.
Not Being Organized
In order to be a good truck driver, you have to be good at managing yourself and sticking to a timetable. You’ll be required to manage paperwork and time well, and adhere to all the rules of being a trucker.
Some of the most common truck driving rookie mistakes involve being disorganized. These include things like neglecting your time log, going over on your time log, not keeping loose change for unexpected tolls and unloading fees, not tracking expenses, neglecting to completing paperwork after each delivery, and miscalculating traffic or terrain times.
You will come to discover that proper organization will make a huge difference on the road.
Being A Road Bully
Once you’ve finished your truck driver training and you’ve gotten your first job, it’s a great feeling. But for some, that feeling can turn into cockiness. A truck can make a driver feel overly confident and powerful, and a lot of rookies let it go to their heads. This can often result in some on-the-road bullying of other drivers.
Things like tailgating, honking unnecessarily, trying to block someone’s path, or anything else intimidating makes the entire trucking industry look bad. Even if provoked by another driver, don’t be a road bully. Your life is not Duel.
Having Unrealistic Expectations
Trucking is an outstanding career that can provide many benefits. However, just as with many other jobs, you have to do a great job and work your way up before being rewarded. Unfortunately, many rookie truck drivers come into truck driving convinced that they’ll have ideal jobs, tons of hours, and loads of money right off the bat.
But that’s not how it works. Often the routes aren’t great, and the hours are long. New drivers don’t typically get to choose their assignments, and they may be sent to inconvenient locations.
Rookie truck drivers shouldn’t expect to be making buckets of money right away. This common mistake in thinking can often affect retention levels.
However, although the first driving jobs may not be exactly what the new drivers had in mind, it’s critical to stick with the job for a year or so. This will prove to future employers that you’re serious and loyal.
Every truck driver has to start somewhere, and rookie truck driver mistakes are simply going to happen. That’s why choosing the right truck driving school to get your CDL is important. The right trucking school can well prepare you for everything you will encounter on the road.