It’s hard not to stand out when you’re new at something, and usually it’s not in the way you hope. It’s an unfortunate part of starting any new job, but everyone has a learning phase that involves making mistakes. Part of making it to the point where you feel confident in your work is doing the research to make sure you don’t make obvious errors. Here are some rookie truck driver mistakes you can easily avoid with a little planning.
The biggest mistake anyone makes when starting a new venture is overconfidence, and drivers with a new CDL are no exception. It’s easy to get excited because you’ve earned your certification, but it’s also easy to think that makes you an expert when you are actually a beginner.
The requirements for your CDL are the minimum knowledge you need to be safe on the road under normal conditions. There are a lot of times conditions aren’t normal, and you need to be humble about getting advice and help when that happens. You also need to be humble about the level of knowledge you have about the business—driving a truck involves a lot more than just driving the vehicle, and it takes time to understand those processes at any trucking companies you join.
Failing to Filter Out Noise
Another big mistake that beginners make is listening to too much advice. There are a lot of opinions out there about the best way to approach the truck driving profession, but not all of them offer productive solutions. Finding the voices you can trust involves developing a good filter for bad information, and that can take time.
The best way to steer around bad advice is to stick to getting your information from sources you can verify, like the CDL Jobs information sites, employer materials, and DOT guidelines. Once you make a couple friends in an organization, they can also help you with the culture as you get used to your new job’s processes.
Neglect for Safety
New drivers aren’t the only ones who often neglect safety protocols, but new truck drivers tend to be the ones who get into the most trouble for it. Partly, that’s because more experienced drivers learn to cut corners in ways they aren’t going to get caught.
Another reason why rookies tend to have spectacularly visible safety issues when they cut corners is because they don’t know which corners are high-risk yet when they cut them. No one should neglect safety protocols, but the difference between an experienced driver doing it and a rookie doing it is that most of the time, the experienced driver knows whether they are taking a calculated risk or an incredibly off-the wall long-shot one.
The best advice for any new driver is to start your sound habits early and don't cut any corners. Following every safety precaution every time you are out is the best way to avoid this. It might not be convenient, but the trouble it saves you is well worth the extra time it takes to get on the road when you’re following all the right procedures.
Neglecting One’s Health
Truck driving is a demanding job, both physically and mentally. Drivers need to be able to cover a lot of ground quickly to make their money, and it’s easy to forget to eat healthy and exercise regularly regularly. It can also be tempting to skimp on sleep when you’re driving a lot, to maximize road time without compromising on personal correspondence or necessary stress relief.
These choices might seem like good ideas in the short term, but they add up, and deciding to sacrifice your own comfort and well-being can become a habit. When it does, drivers typically wind up having trouble with their physical exams, leading to plenty of drivers being sidelined when they could have avoided it.
Lacking the Organization and Financing to Launch
If you get your CDL and go to work for a trucking company, this is less of an issue because you’ll learn that company’s processes as you train into the job. That can offset a lot of personal disorganization by giving you a good system. It also takes the financial burden off you when it comes to freight bills. If you want to become an Owner Operator right away, though, do your research as it can be easy to underestimate the working capital you will need to keep on hand.
Just because you are a new truck driver doesn’t mean you have to make mistakes like one. By learning to listen to your supervisors and following all safety protocols, you can avoid these common rookie truck driver mistakes.