Surviving Your First 6 Months As a Rookie Driver

Surviving Your First 6 Months As a Rookie Driver

The truck driving lifestyle is a demanding one— it’s not just about safely operating a rig from one place to another.

Operators must make sure their vehicles are in great shape, handle deadlines, manage their time, and get enough sleep and exercise, among other things.

Yes, you’ll have to learn to deal with plenty of stress as a truck driver. How you deal with that stress will have a direct impact on your success.

Most drivers would agree that the first 6 months as a rookie are tough. Long hours on the job mean getting used to just “rolling with it” at times and learning to be flexible. Besides carrying a load in the rig, drivers also carry around loneliness, boredom, and even exhaustion at times.

On the other hand, as any trucker would tell you, there’s a tinge of glory in what we do. We’ve seen city skylines and the sun rise over breathtaking mountainous backdrops. We’ve driven through blinding snow and fierce winds, and carefully maneuvered our rigs around dangerous curves.

But, as with any job, experience brings confidence. That’s why rookies might find the first 6 months to be the most difficult, as they learn the ropes and get used to handling their rig. So, here are some suggestions from some “old timers” to any new guys and gals out there who are just beginning their careers in the trucking industry.

1. Get some sleep!

Don’t underestimate the impact of sleep deprivation on safe driving. Use any and all time you get to take a nap, especially if you didn’t get a good night’s sleep the night before. Any rest is better than no rest.

Sometimes newbies think, “it’s just an hour more” without realizing their bodies are already maxed out and ready to snooze. That’s a dangerous way to think. As the old saying goes, you’re “better safe than sorry”. If you get overly tired, pull over to a safe place and do what you need to do to revive yourself— some coffee, a quick stroll, or even a nap. If you have to be a bit late, call your employer— it’s better to be late than to be involved in an accident.

2. Get an extended service contract.

One of the best ways to get some peace of mind while on the job is to obtain a great extended insurance contract and know you’ll be covered no matter what! Breakdowns happen, but you won’t be stranded if you choose a warranty company wisely. With Truck Master Warranty, you can pick a 6 to 48 month term, and get nationwide coverage (including all Canadian provinces). No matter WHAT happens, you’ll be fully insured, and you can even pick your own licensed shop to do the repairs.

3. Get experience

The first 6 months are all about learning the ropes. You’ll be dealing with certain situations and visiting places for the very first time. Don’t be hard on yourself when inevitable situations like bad weather or getting lost come up now and then. Try to keep your cool and treat difficulties as a learning experience.

That being said, don’t be afraid to ask for advice from seasoned drivers, or call your shipper or consignee in case the directions from your company aren’t exactly right. Beware of using car-based GPS for directions, as those could take you into residential areas.

4. Get a hobby

Long, monotonous hours in a truck can cause boredom and loneliness, especially if you’ve already gotten to the point where you know what you’re doing, and have driven your route many times before. Use those driving hours to listen to podcasts, tutorials, and documentaries. Learn something new! Some truckers have even learned a new language by listening to an app while driving. You can only listen to music for so long, so find something that motivates you and use that time to learn.

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