In most jobs the first few years can be the hardest and for a truck driver this is no different. You have the challenge of getting used to the vehicle, getting used to customer requirements, and getting used to the truck driver lifestyle.
Here are a few things to expect in your first year, and a few tips to keep you safe and on track for a great career in trucking. Hang in there and you’ll absolutely love the truck driving life!
Realise it’s not going to be easy
Driving a lorry can be the best job in the world. But it takes a little time to get used to. It’s normal to have a few small accidents in your first year, to run late a few times, to get lost in an area you don’t know, etc.
You also don’t earn an awful lot in the beginning. So it can sometimes feel like you’ve chosen the wrong profession. Don’t give up, it will get easier, it will get more relaxing and it will start to get paid more.
2. Practice makes perfect
The more you drive, the better a truck driver you’ll become. It’s as easy as that. Try to get as much time on the road in as possible. This includes practicing manoeuvring as that’s where the most accidents happen!
Also keep an eye on how your colleagues do things. This goes for driving as well as for dealing with customers and caring for your vehicle and yourself. Not everyone will set a good example but you’ll definitely learn things from observing others.
3. Be aware of your whole truck
When you’re backing in or pulling out, make sure you’re not just keeping an eye on the corner you’re closest to but also every other part of your truck and trailer. Even when you have someone helping you spot, they usually can’t see all of your vehicle. Think about blind spots, potential obstacles and people you can bump into. It’s always good to get out and have a look at the surrounding area before you start manoeuvring into a parking space or loading dock.
Being aware of your whole truck also involves being aware of your load. Make sure everything is safely stored and that nothing can unexpectedly move while driving or when opening the trailer.
Always ensure your truck is in top condition and whenever you have a chance, check your tyre pressure, your fluids and the general state of your lorry. Prevention is the best cure.
4. Time management is key
Take your time when backing in or pulling out and move slowly. This will avoid unnecessary accidents that can cost a lot of money or even your job. Also take your time when checking your vehicle to make sure you haven’t missed anything crucial.
Allow for enough time so that you never have to rush. This means you need to plan carefully and keep enough margin. You never know what can go wrong – you can’t find the location, it’s trickier to back in than you thought, there are works on the road that mean you need to take a detour, there’s a low bridge you can’t get past, etc. Give yourself some breathing space by perfecting your time management.
5. It’s not just about driving
Granted, driving the lorry is going to take up most of your time but there’s more to truck driver life.
Stay healthy. Make sure you get enough sleep, get enough exercise, eat well and get enough relaxation when you’re not on the job. Your health will have an impact on you physically and mentally. It will also help you stay resilient in times of stress. Truck driver life expectancy is on average 16 years shorter than the average, yet common illnesses for truck drivers can often be prevented by enough exercise and a balanced diet.
Get along with your colleagues. A pleasant working environment is not only good for your own well-being but it will also make the job easier. People are more likely to help you out or give you a good route when you remain friendly.
6. Don’t be shy to ask for help
When you’re still learning, it’s absolutely crucial to ask as many questions as possible. You might need the answer later. Similarly, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. A lot of stress can be avoided by a helping hand and most people are more than happy to lend you one.
Do you have any tips for starting drivers? Leave them in the comments!