Being a truck driver is more than being at the wheel of one of the largest vehicles on the road. It takes training, and a combination of knowledge and experience added to your own skill set. Here’s a quick look at some of the basic things truck drivers must know how to do. This article is sponsored by Truck-School.com, WI based, Truck Driver School.
Operate your vehicle in a safe manner
This includes doing a full vehicle check before driving off and knowing what you need to check. Drivers need to know how and when to change gears or use brakes, where the blind spots are, and the right way to turn a corner in a tight spot. Know your truck and its limitations. All the stuff you learn in training school is geared toward professional drivers expertly operating their vehicle.
Plan the best route
This includes everything from weight limits to height restrictions, and it can change at the state line. Drivers have to balance fuel and freight weight, so knowing where to stop for fuel or adjust axles/loads is important. Drivers are constantly problem solving because road conditions and traffic affect time logs. Using a CB gives truckers real-time alerts on what’s ahead.
Comply with the law
For instance, the Hours of Service rules are controversial, but time logs are a federal requirement. These logs have to reflect fueling, driving, sleeping, loading, and unloading times accurately. The tricky part comes in when unchangeable factors don’t mesh, like waiting time at a dock or no place to park when a mandatory break is needed. Whether or not you agree with the way it’s written, drivers have to know and work with the law.
Understand your contract
Some drivers are paid hourly, some are paid by every mile driven on the job, and others are paid by the straight-line distance between point A and point B. Some drivers get additional increases for hazardous materials or a percentage of each load. Make sure you know exactly how they figure your compensation so there are no unhappy surprises on payday.
Maintain good relationships with the people surrounding you
It surprises some people to find that a driver on the road most of the time still has a lot of interaction with others. From the strangers at the truck stop to the dispatcher who decides your next load, the people you talk to can make life easier or make it miserable. Being consistent, kind, and responsible will improve your relationships with everybody. Along with that, stay connected to your family. Today’s technology makes it easy!
Plan for the unexpected
Have something to do when there’s nothing you can do. It might be reading a book, listening to podcasts, or exercising. It could be researching the area to find alternate routes. There will always be something that messes up your plans, so be flexible and make the most of it.
Truck drivers who know how to operate the vehicle in a safe manner, plan the best route, comply with the law, understand their contract, maintain good relationships, and plan for the unexpected have solid careers ahead.