Advice that new truck drivers need to know

The logistics industry is currently on a major push to bring in new recruits. This does appear to be succeeding. If you’re one of the many new truck drivers preparing to take to the roads, then Walker Movements, global leaders in the used truck sector, share their tips for what every beginner truck driver should understand.

Focus on your driving skills

If it’s been a while since you got your regular driving licence, you may have forgotten what it feels like to be a newly-qualified driver. Getting your licence really means that you’re at the “conscious competence” stage of learning. In other words, you know what you need to do but you still need to think it through either before or as you do it.

The next, and final, stage in the learning journey is “unconscious competence”. This means that your learning is so ingrained you just do it without thinking. There is only one route to unconscious competence and that is experience. Experience only comes through time. In trucking, it usually takes about a year for people to become really comfortable with handling large vehicles.

During that year, you should generally be focusing on two key points. The first is safety. There are four main steps to ensuring safety. Firstly, take preparation very seriously. Secondly, allow plenty of time for your trip so you can drive slowly, especially in poor weather. Thirdly, keep your attention on the road at all times. Fourthly, take your rest breaks no matter what. If having a rest break makes you late then so be it.

The second is backing up. Backing up is widely considered to be the single most challenging skill new drivers need to learn. When you first start out in trucking then make a point of getting out of your cab and assessing the environment before you start backing up. If you feel you need help then ask for it. Be patient with yourself. Just about everybody struggles with backing up when they’re new to trucking.

Set up checklists

Experienced truckers understand the importance of being prepared for trips. Part of this is organization, for example working out the best route and checking the weather conditions. Part of it, however, means getting the right gear together for your trip. That starts with knowing what the right gear is and this will vary from trip to trip.

As a rule of thumb, you should pack for yourself as though you were going on a camping trip. Additionally, you’ll need equipment to care for your vehicle. This includes cleaning it. You’ll also need safety equipment “just in case”.

You’ll also need to know how to use all this equipment. This will probably be taught to you as part of your qualification. As you’re new, however, it might be a good idea to put together a written/printed “how-to” guide for yourself. That way you won’t have to rely on either your memory or having access to the internet.

Prepare for life on the road

Trucking is very different from many other jobs. This is exactly what makes so many truckers love it. It can, however, take some getting used to. The first point you need to recognize is that you’ll almost certainly start on a decent wage rather than a great one. As with all jobs, you’ll need to prove yourself before you get offered higher-paying jobs.

This is part of the reason why preparation is so important. If you wind up having to make a lot of purchases while you’re on the road then you can end up spending a lot of money without any real benefit. You can also end up eating and drinking very unhealthily because you’ll have limited time for shopping.

As a final point, being a trucker takes mental flexibility. On the one hand, you need to be fine with spending long periods completely on your own. On the other hand, you do need to get on with people when you encounter them, which you will.