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15 Tips for Rookie Truck Drivers: Jump Start Your New Career

As a new truck driver, you might feel a little overwhelmed when you start your first job. Follow our tips for rookie truck drivers so you can be better prepared.

By

Jacob Lee
April 28, 2022
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There’s a few tips for rookie truck drivers that you can utilize to make your first trucking job a little bit easier. Between the long hours away from home and sitting in one place for hours on end, trucking makes many rookie drivers feel like they’re taking on more than they can handle. With all of these factors taken into account, you’ll need all the help you can get. 

These tips for rookie truck drivers won’t only be useful for your first driving job, they’ll come in handy for the entirety of your trucking career. Some tips to follow and make your driving routine are:

  • Eating healthy
  • Staying Positive
  • Getting Rest
  • Keep In Touch With Family and Friends
  • Have Patience With Yourself

Our 15 tips for rookie truck drivers will help you feel more prepared for what you should expect when you start your truck driving career. 

Tips for Rookie Truck Drivers

Your first few years as a truck driver can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are tons of ways to make life easier and your job on the road more enjoyable. 

Whether you want to better take care of your body, your mind, or simply add some fun to your trucker lifestyle, we’ve got some tips that can help you start your career right.

1) Prioritize Safe Driving

A truck driver in the drivers seat smiling and giving a thumbs up

First and foremost, safety is everything when you’re going down the road. This is a lesson that you learned when you were working to get your CDL. But training for your CDL and driving for a company that has expectations of you are two different things.

When you finally hit the road, you will need to abide by all the safety procedures you learned when you were working to get your CDL. You will also need to follow the safety guidelines of the trucking company that you work for.

Here are a few safety tips that you will need to be sure to follow:

  • Check blind spots
  • Always buckle up
  • Always use your turn signal
  • Plan your route if one isn’t already planned for you
  • Follow the speed limit

Regardless of what time of the day it is or how much traffic is on the road, you will need to pay attention to all safety guidelines while you’re behind the wheel. 

2) Stay Mobile In Your Free Time

Truck driving requires you to stay strapped in the driver’s seat for hours on end. Staying in one spot is sure to make your joints stiff and even sore after a prolonged period. When you make it to a rest stop or a drop-off destination, you should use the free time you have to get up and stretch. 

Stretching for anywhere between one to five minutes is a sure way to help keep yourself refreshed for the next time you get in the driver's seat. Stretching is one way to increase mobility, but so is exercising.

While you probably won’t be able to have as intense of a workout as you would in a gym, there are still plenty of simple exercises you can do on your own. Some exercises you can try to include in your routine are:

  • Squats
  • Pushups
  • Planks 
  • Situps
  • A jog around a truck stop 

You can even get yourself some kettlebells to use if you have the room in your truck. For more tips on how to stay mobile when you're a truck driver, check out our list of best exercises for truck drivers. 

3) Eat As Healthy As Possible

Two truck drivers sitting and laughing next to each other while eating their lunch

Eating healthy is important for many people, but for truck drivers, it should be a top priority. Many truck drivers find it hard to eat on the road because fast food or stopping in at a restaurant is much more convenient. 

One way you can ensure that you only eat healthy food when you’re on the open road is to pack your own. The day before you leave to go on your route, pack all of the food that you will need on your journey. 

There are plenty of make-ahead meals for truckers that you can have ready when you make it to a rest stop or unloading facility. Meals like these will save you time that you would normally spend preparing food yourself. 

When you get hungry in between meals, have some healthy snacks on standby that will keep you satisfied until mealtime. Some varieties of make-ahead meals and snacks that you can bring with you are:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Salad
  • Beef jerky
  • Kale chips
  • Sandwiches

If you run out of food before finishing your route, stop at a supermarket rather than at a fast-food restaurant. Supermarkets will have many of the ingredients or foods that will give you what you need to have a healthy meal or snack. Lastly, consider getting a 12-volt cooler to store any food you bring that needs to stay cold.  

4) Stay Positive

If you plan to spend years on the road as a truck driver, it helps to have a positive mindset. Time and time again you’ll face some agitating experiences. Whether it’s heavy traffic, bad weather or waiting to be unloaded, truck driving will throw you into plenty of stressful scenarios. 

Being negative will only make your experience as a driver terrible, even during the parts that are the least stressful. If truck driving is going to be your career, you don’t want to spend it all being miserable. 

For all the bad that might come with truck driving, there’s still plenty of good that can keep you going. You also spent a lot of time preparing to be a truck driver and you shouldn’t let a bad day keep you down. 

5) Get Plenty Of Rest

Before landing your first job with a trucking company, you might underestimate how important a full night's sleep is. Despite not being able to move around while you’re in the driver’s seat, truck driving is a job that can be very exhausting. Therefore, it’s extremely important to get enough rest after you pull into a truck stop for the night. 

When you pull into a truck stop, complete whatever your nightly routines are and then get yourself to bed. Don’t get bogged down with any unnecessary tasks that will keep you from getting to bed on time. 

One way you can ensure you get enough sleep is by doing some meditation. There are a few different meditation practices that you can try. Regardless of the one you use, meditating will help calm you down and ease your stress. 

By relaxing your body you’ll be able to more easily fall asleep at night. Another technique that will help get you to sleep is to block out any noise that can keep you up. Earplugs or earmuffs designed to block out sound will make the inside of your cabin more peaceful to sleep in. 

Get the sleep you need with more of our truck driver sleeping tips. 

A truck driver sleeping in the bed of their truck

6) Maintain the Health Of Your Truck

A healthy truck is essential to getting your loads to where they need to go. Whether you’re using a company truck or your own, taking care of your vehicle is extremely important. 

If your truck breaks down while you're on the road you’ll get set behind schedule. In addition to your deliveries arriving late, you’ll also be losing money if your truck breaks down while on the job. Even the simplest repairs can cost you. 

Keeping up with routine maintenance on your truck can prevent many unnecessary problems. If you have a personal truck, the best time for you to take care of repairs is when you’re not working. 

You can prevent truck malfunctions by completing inspections before, after and during your trip. Things that you should check when you’re inspecting your truck are:

  • All lights, including the trailer
  • Tires and wheels
  • Oil fluids
  • Brake shoes

Getting a company truck fixed is a little different than repairing your own. Many trucking companies keep logs for each truck in their fleet. After a driver returns from a trip, they will note all the things that should be looked at or fixed. From there, the company will see to it that repairs are made.

7) Keep In Touch With Family and Friends

One of the most stressful parts of life on the road is the amount of time you spend away from your friends and family. This can put a strain on your relationships and leave you feeling lonely. These feelings are completely normal, especially for newer truck drivers. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to stay in touch with your loved ones.

Whenever you stop at a gas station, rest stop, or before you get out on the road again after making a delivery, use that chance to give someone you care about a call. Video chats are another excellent option because you can see the face of the person you’re talking to. 

Keeping in touch with your family is important, but so is having time to spend with them. At ABCO, we give our drivers flexible schedules so when they come home they have time to spend with the people they care for.

8) Be Polite To the People You Meet

Two truck drivers shaking hands next to a parked semi

During your travels as a truck driver, you will meet many people. This can be anyone from truck drivers, to customers awaiting the delivery of your freight. Regardless of who you meet, being polite and having a good attitude are important. 

If you’re rude to the people you meet as a truck driver it’s not only a bad reflection on you, it’s a bad reflection on the company that you drive for. As a truck driver, you might be given a route where you will be delivered to the same customers regularly. 

When you see the same people this often, it’s better to form a good relationship with them. This doesn’t mean you have to be friends, but it makes things less awkward and tense when you make a delivery. 

9) Customize the Inside Of Your Truck

Your truck is your home while you’re on the road. So, decorate it with some of the things you like to make you feel a little less homesick. Try hanging some charms from the review or putting some books you want to read in your sleeping quarters. 

10) Always Communicate With Managers and Dispatch

Communicating with your manager and dispatch is always important. If they ever reach out to you while you're driving, don't keep them waiting for too long. Additionally, you should always communicate with them when something goes wrong. 

If you ever break down or run into some rainy weather, it’s better to let them know instead of leaving it up to an upset customer who calls them about your tardiness. 

11) Leave Town With Only What You Need

Many rookie truck drivers that land their first job pack more than what they need for their journey. Save yourself the preparation time and only pack what you need. You shouldn’t be packing your entire house or apartment. Only the necessary amount of essential items for the duration of your trip and a few recreational items.

While it’s good to travel light, don’t be afraid to take a hobby with you while you’re on the road. Our article on hobbies for truck drivers will give you a few ideas.

12) Don’t Expect To Make Large Amounts Of Money At First

While truck drivers make great money, rookie drivers make less than more experienced ones. As a young driver who just received their CDL, you might be eager to earn large sums of money. 

However, you have to remember that to get to that point you have to put your time in. The more experience you get the more you will earn with your company. 

13) Don’t Rush

A truck driver crouched next to his tire with a clipboard

Every driver in the trucking industry is expected to get to their destination on time. As a new driver, you might be eager to prove yourself to your company by getting to each stop earlier and faster than the other drivers. 

Performing well for your company goes a long way, but you should never rush yourself on the road. The more you rush, the more your performance as a driver will decline. 

There are many learning curves that new drivers have to overcome when they start with a new company. To get through these learning curves, you’re going to have to take your time to overcome these challenges. 

14) Avoid Job Hopping

Chances are the first company you start driving for won’t be the most pleasant. As a new driver in the industry, you’re not going to know every good and bad thing to look for in a company. That said, you shouldn’t quit and job hop to different trucking companies at the first sign of inconvenience. 

Instead, spend a few years with your first trucking company to gain experience. Once you gain some tenure, you can start looking for employment opportunities with other companies. More experience will make you more appealing and increase the likelihood of a higher starting pay with a new company. 

15) Have Patience With Yourself

We’ve mentioned before the importance of having a good attitude when you become a truck driver. Having patience with yourself is equally important. 

Things aren’t always going to go your way like a truck driver. You’ll often run into frustrating situations and make a few mistakes here and there. Beating yourself up about these situations won’t do you any good. 

Be patient with yourself and learn from your mistakes so you can improve as a driver. 

Start Your Trucking Career With ABCO

If you’re a driver that has a CDL, a clean MVR, is 23 or older and has a year of verifiable OTR work experience, then ABCO is the company for you. Here at ABCO, we care about our drivers and their wellbeing. With access to benefits and a flexible schedule, we can guarantee that working for us will be a rewarding experience. 

In addition to these perks, ABCO also starts its drivers off at a salary of $67,000 a year. However, the more experience you have, the higher your starting pay will be. So fill out your application today and start your journey as an ABCO driver. 

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