No one ever said the trucking life is easy, but most truckers will admit that this career can be incredibly rewarding. However, most truckers have to rack up thousands of miles before they learn the lessons that lead to success on the road. New truckers stand to gain quite a bit by listening to their experienced elders. Here is some hard-earned advice from expert truckers on how to enjoy a promising career in the trucking world.
No new driver will ever hear a trucker say a bad word about defensive driving. Safety is bar-none the most important policy in any commercial vehicle but especially in a truck. When 18-wheelers crash, they crash hard. It is far better to avoid any chance of a collision at any speed by driving smartly and safely.
Safe driving starts before a trucker even steps foot in his cab. Whenever a trucker takes a break ― no matter the purpose or duration ― he must ensure his truck is still in working condition. About once a week, most truckers perform a thorough inspection of hoses, belts, fluid levels, lights, tire pressure, and more, but after every stop, before sitting behind the wheel, a trucker should perform a cursory check, looking for fluid leaks, dim lights, or sagging tires, to help him drive defensively.
All truckers have to take classes to earn their commercial owner-operator licenses, but it is crucial that truckers follow the lessons of defensive driving. While four-wheelers might zip around the road, truckers must be stoic and impassive, following the written rules. Breaking any rules ― speeding, for example, or being discourteous to other drivers ― will not only make for a late delivery, it could have permanent, fatal consequences.
On Buying a Truck
Not all truckers own their rigs, but they should. Being an owner-operator is a sweet gig; it opens a trucker to better-paying contract jobs and sets him up to start his own business in the future. Unfortunately ― albeit, quite obviously ― buying a class 8 is not at all like buying a four-wheeler. Acquiring financing is trickier, not leastways because commercial vehicles are so much more expensive than personal vehicles, and shopping for the right trailer is a unique experience. Some useful details can be found here: Factoring for truckers.
Truckers must prioritize their needs and wants. They must consider questions like what kind of cargo they hope to carry and what kind of transmission they feel most comfortable driving. Having a list will help them narrow down the options to a manageable few. Then, truckers must find a reliable dealership. It may be that truckers can find a better selection and better prices far from home; in fact, some truckers will even journey to buy a commercial truck in Miami from a dealership they know and trust. Buying from a dealership is preferable to finding some used truck online, as strange third parties often peddle disreputable rigs.
On Finding Jobs
The U.S. needs truckers now more than ever. There is a sizeable shortage of drivers, especially on the West Coast, which generally makes finding employment particularly easy ― if a trucker knows where to look. Thankfully, the internet has made it substantially easier for truckers to find open positions.
Typical job boards, like Monster and Indeed, usually have a few postings for drivers, but the best jobs are more often located on trucking-specific websites, like Find a Trucking Job andTrucker Search.
Experience is the most sought-after skill, which is best gained doing Over the Road (OTR) gigs ― which requires being away from home for more than three weeks at a time. Trucking isn’t easy, and many trucking companies lose drivers after a few weeks due to disappointment and boredom, which is why commitment comes in close second for desired trucker qualities. Companies want to know they can depend on their drivers, and they will hire anyone with evidence of steadfastness.
Driving a truck isn’t all a trucker can do. In fact, the current growth of the transportation industry makes movement within a company highly likely. If a hard-working, loyal trucker grows tired of the open road, he can easily transition into a higher-paying, steadier role in the company ― but only if he has a history of safety, security, and reliability.