Truck drivers are an essential part of the shipping industry, transporting goods and raw materials to retail locations, distribution centers, warehouses, and front doors. Becoming a truck driver offers access to a steady source of income and freedom for those who enjoy being on the open road. Drivers have a responsibility to the company they work for, pedestrians, and other drivers on the road to drive in a responsible manner. For new drivers just breaking into the industry, there is a lot to learn in order to be a proficient driver and find steady work.
Trucking School Tips
- Check with local trucking companies before choosing a trucking school to ensure the education offered is thorough enough to meet their standards.
- Truck driving schools with accreditation by the United States Department of Transportation offer scholarships, grants, and loans that can help truck drivers offset the cost of education.
- Ask questions to determine the quality of education a school offers. One on one training programs, small class sizes, behind the wheel training, job placement assistance, and access to late model equipment will assist with becoming a proficient driver.
Tips for Finding Jobs
- Consider getting truck driving education from a big company which has its own school. After graduation, new drivers have guaranteed employment.
- Self employed truck drivers are more vulnerable to economic downturns. Taking accounting and business classes will be helpful to making the business a success.
- Recruiters, placement agencies and job boards can help new truckers find career opportunities. Online job boards allow truckers to search opportunities by state or certification.
Fuel Saving Tips
- Speeding not only increases the risk of getting into an accident, it also increases aerodynamic drag and uses more fuel. Maintain a consistent speed, use cruise control when appropriate, and avoid quick accelerations.
- Pay attention to how cargo is loaded. The higher the height of the load, the more drag placed on the truck and the more energy it consumes.
- Idling is a big fuel waster. Plan your route to avoid traffic congestion and drive the truck to warm it up. Idle reduction facilities are also available at many public truck stops.
- The higher vantage point of a truck allows truck drivers to keep an eye out for aggressive drivers on the road and avoid them.
- Maintain a respectable distance from vehicles in front of you, larger trucks need more time to stop. Keep an eye out for vehicles which may pull in front of trucks then suddenly slow down or break.
- Before heading out on the road pre-inspect the vehicles: breaks, windshield wipers, horn, mirrors, tires, reflectors, oil levels, fuel levels, and that cargo is secured. If any problems are noticed, they should be reported to dispatch and handled before getting on the road.
Accident Preparedness Tips
- Highway construction zones are a major area of concern for truck drivers. Slow down when entering a work zone, adjust mirrors, allow plenty of room to maneuver, and stay alerted to your trucks blind spots.
- Always wear a seat belt. If an accident does occur, a seat belt will keep you from being ejected from the seat and help maintain control of the truck.
- Join the local state trucking association to stay up to date on state and federal regulations and gain valuable contacts for jobs and assistance.
Miscellaneous Trucking Tips
- Maintain good physical health is part of being a part of a truck driver’s job. Regular exercise and adequate sleep will help drivers avoid fatigue when driving long stretches of empty highway and loading and unloading cargo.
- Avoiding use of alcohol and controlled substances will help drivers maintain clean driving records to keep their license. It will also help truckers pass random drug and alcohol tests conducted by their trucking company.
- A long and successful truck driving career is dependent on a new driver’s work ethic. Keep an excellent driving record, increase communication skills, maintain a professional image and arrive with cargo on time.
- American Trucking Associations: The industry voice for the trucking industry offer information and advocacy on truck safety, security, hazardous materials, and more.
- Commercial Vehicle Training Association: This national trade association represents private truck driving schools in the United States and Canada.
- Professional Truck Driver Institute: Non-profit organization working to improve safety in truck driving by certifying entry-level driver training courses meeting guidelines set forth by the Federal Highway Administration.
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: A separate administration of the United States Department of Transportation responsible for regulations, licensing, and education to prevent truck accidents.
- Truck Safety Coalition: Promoting truck safety issues to reduce deaths caused by truck related accidents.