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How to Go From Rookie Truck Driver to Veteran Trucker

Truck driving is a rewarding career in several ways. Getting to see the country and make a good living, you must be diligent in ensuring your body stays fit. Sitting for hours and being away from home means you cannot always eat the way you want or move as much as you would like. Experienced truck drivers take good care of themselves on the road.

Take Care of Yourself

Truck driving is a rewarding career in several ways. Getting to see the country and make a good living, you must be diligent to ensure your body stays fit. Sitting for hours and being away from home means you cannot always move as much as you would like and eat the way you want. Experienced truck drivers take good care of themselves on the road.

  • Plan Out Your Meals: While you are often relegated to restaurant meals and snacks, plan out your meals to make the best of what you have. Try to eat healthy when possible and avoid fast food for every meal. 
  • Exercise: The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHC) recommends adults get either 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activities or 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week. The DHHC also recommends regular strength training for all the major muscle groups, at least twice weekly. It is vital to incorporate regular exercise into your routine to stay healthy. 
  • Adequate, Restful Sleep: The amount of sleep you need to function regularly will vary. However, the National Sleep Foundation states adults aged 26 to 64 need around seven to nine hours of sleep each day. Try to get at least near this amount regularly to ensure your body is functioning correctly. The negative impact of too little sleep is can be severe and far-reaching, so never try to opt-out of sleep to gain a few extra miles on the road.
  • Avoid Too Much Energy Drinks and Caffeine: Go easy on the caffeine or energy drinks to stay focused. Too much caffeine is a bad habit of starting and can cause a variety of health issues. 
  • Practice Good Hygiene: Even when you are on the road, it is essential to maintain good personal hygiene. Take a minute to grab a shower, wash your hair, brush your teeth, and wear detergent. The more you focus on personal health, the better you will feel overall. 
  • Keep a First Aid Kit Handy: Truck driving is a serious profession, and injuries can happen. Make sure you have a quality first aid kit with Band-Aids, a flashlight, rubbing alcohol, and antiseptic for all minor issues. 

“Eyes on the road and off your phone!”

Jesse, Knight Transportation Driver

Take Safety Seriously

Perhaps you became a truck driver after watching the “Snowman” in Smokey and the Bandit. Safety protocols, regulations, and times have changed. Experienced truck drivers understand safety is the highest priority.

  • Drive the speed limit.
  • Pay attention to road signs. They are there for a reason.
  • Regularly check your blind spots.
  • Reduce speed when driving through work zones.
  • Properly position the review mirrors. 
  • Use common sense on the roadway.
  • Adjust your driving for weather conditions and other traffic-related issues. 
  • Be realistic with your expectations for meeting a deadline and driving conditions. 
  • Avoid using your cellphone when driving.
  • Check, and then triple check, your equipment.

“Be SAFE. Get out and look! It’s better to take your time than not to. It’s not about speed; it’s about safety and accuracy.”

Akosua, Knight Transportation Driver

Build Good Relationships 

Having long-term success as a truck driver, and moving from rookie to veteran, requires people skills. You also need to invest in work relationships, and those you interact with regularly. Experienced truck drivers put the time and energy into getting to know the people around them.

  • Direct Managers/Dispatchers: Typically, managers/dispatchers will give you a work number and a cell phone number. Communicate regularly (even more than once a day) about problems with shippers/receivers, fuel, breakdowns or other truck issues, problems with pay, or paid leave plans. Even if you are a very independent driver without many issues, check-in with your manager/dispatcher at least once a day.
  • Receivers: The best way to build a relationship with receivers is by using your customer service skills. Remember, your shippers are clients and require your best communication. Even small talk each time you deliver can go a long way to building trust with company customers. Experienced drivers know a great way to build a relationship with receivers is to respect the shipping yard rules and obeying all speed limits and safety requirements.

Ask for Help

All truck drivers need help from time-to-time. Most experienced truckers are happy to share tips, tricks, and things to watch out for on the road. Veteran truck drivers know when to ask for help.

  • Expect to Make Mistakes: Nobody is perfect. You will make mistakes, and that is okay. Just remember everyone goes through rookie gaffs. Just pick yourself up, dust off and get back out there!
  • Find a Mentor: Form a relationship with someone whom you admire and who is willing to share what they know. It is important to ask for help after developing relationships with mentors in the trucking industry.

“Talk to other drivers you come across, listen, and take heed for what they are sharing. You can always learn from another individual, especially ones with long years in the industry. You are not alone; people are willing, eager, and happy to share their knowledge!”

Daryl, Knight Transportation Driver

Conclusion

Truck driving is a rewarding career choice. Making the transition from rookie truck driver to experienced trucker will go smoother when you embrace all the aspects of life on the road. Take your time as a rookie truck driver seriously, and before you know it, you may find yourself ready to provide wisdom to the next generation of truckers.

Are you thinking about becoming a truck driver? Apply to the Knight Transportation Squire Program.

Are you interested in driving for Knight Transportation? View trucking jobs or apply now.

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