You lift yourself up and climb into the semi-truck for the very first time. You sit down on the seat and reach for the belt buckle. Then, you get situated. The steering wheel is huge! There are so many gears and buttons – what does what? You check your mirrors just like you would in your car. That’s when you remember all of that trailer behind you. Let’s face it… this first moment in a big rig is intimidating. For this reason, many trucking schools across the country are training drivers in a different medium first… a truck driving simulator.
How Does the Trucking Industry Use Truck Driving Simulators?
Technology is touching every facet of the trucking industry, and new driver training is no exception.
A simulator is essentially a machine where you can sit and practice driving a truck. It allows users to learn how to drive in different road and weather conditions without leaving the driving school. You’re sitting in a seat with a steering wheel and a screen in front of you where you can change scenarios for training purposes. Most truck driving simulators have features like a 180-degree view of the field. They also have a force-loaded steering wheel that lets practicing drivers feel what it would feel like to drive on different terrain. What about when unexpected problems arise? They even have built-in events like a tire blow-out. Some of them even record everything so students can play it back and see how they did. This allows the teacher to review and coach students without putting them in danger out on the road.
Truck driving simulators are a fairly new technology that is changing the way that truck drivers receive CDL training. However, there are mixed opinions on using them for truck driver training. Check out the arguments for and against truck driving simulators.
Truck Driving Simulator | The Benefits
While some would argue that there’s nothing like the real thing, truck driving simulators give new drivers a pretty close experience.
There are many benefits to truck driving simulators. Most importantly, these machines present no real safety concerns. They are especially important for students who simply aren’t ready to actually get in a truck and drive yet. They allow these students to practice and work through simple mistakes. When they make these mistakes in the real thing, the truck can get damaged. This ends up costing trucking companies a lot of money in repairs. Using a simulator can help trucking companies to avoid paying for damages from student drivers. It also means less wear and tear on the real truck. Truck driving simulators are also cheaper in the sense that trucking companies aren’t having to pay for the gas it costs to have students driving their trucks around. Although truck driving simulators can cost a lot of money upfront and require annual maintenance, many CLD training schools report that it’s not near as expensive as training brand new drivers in an actual truck. As you can imagine, having someone shifting gears wrong, braking hard, and other rookie mistakes, can create a lot of wear and tear over time.
A big concern is whether or not drivers trained in the truck driving simulator are acquiring the same skills as drivers who simply hit the road right away. The short answer – so far studies are showing that drivers learning in simulators are just as safe as drivers who learned from the real thing. In fact, some studies even proved that they are safer drivers and have less accidents – probably because they got those mistakes out of the way while using the simulator and not while learning in the actual truck.
The decision to attend trucking school is very important. Not only are you entering into a great industry, but you will learn all kinds of new skills! There are a lot of things to consider when going to trucking school for your CDL license. You have to know where you want to go to trucking school and what type of license you want to get. The most important thing to consider if you’re thinking about going to trucking school is the cost. How much will trucking school cost and how will you pay for it? We’ve broken down the cost of trucking school as well as helpful resources for financing.
trucking school cost
Average Trucking School Cost
The cost of trucking school varies depending on where you go. There is also a big difference between an independent program and a company-sponsored program. If a company offers to pay for you to go to trucking school, that does not mean trucking school is free. There is usually a long-term commitment involved. You are expected to stay with the company for an extended period of time after you obtain your CDL. If you fail to do so, you will be fined or expected to pay for your schooling. These fines can sometimes be up to thousands of dollars.
As for private trucking schooling, the costs are very different. The private trucking school cost in the U.S. ranges from around $2,000 to $6,000. This may seem like a steep number, but in this case, you do not have to commit to a company before you even get your CDL. With the price comes a high level of freedom. There is the alternative route of community college. Community college CDL programs vary in cost depending on the location. They can be anywhere from $1,500 to $6,000 depending on where they are.
Trucking School Financial Aid and Resources
One of the most obvious ways to save money when going to trucking school is to avoid private programs. Unlike other types of learning programs, CDL training is not necessarily better at a private institution. Many community college programs are very good and offer the knowledge you need to be a truck driver. You may also be interested in getting your CDL with a company and working for them after school. This is the cheapest option, but as we previously mentioned, there are also contractual obligations.
There is a lot of financial aid out there for hopeful truck drivers. Usually, each CDL training program will offer their own versions of financial aid. For community college programs, there are often public funds available that you need to qualify for. If you prove that you cannot afford to pay for the program on your own, the county, state, or federal government will offer you some sort of aid. There are also plenty of scholarships for veterans, active-duty military members, or their spouses.
Another way to afford CDL training is to have a payment plan or financing. The biggest hurdle if you are considering financing is being confident that you will have income after. Do not try to finance your tuition if you will be unable to pay it off later. Many programs have payment plans that allow you to pay in installments. This is a helpful option if you will have money coming in at a later date or will not have the entire amount upfront.
Trucking companies value your CDL and your knowledge. In order to be a great truck driver, you have to be willing to learn. Now that you have more information about trucking school cost, you can research trucking schools and find the perfect program! Start browsing our list of trucking jobs and line up a great position for yourself.
All women have different opinions and perspectives when it comes to how men treat us – the men in our family and friend groups – the men we pass on the street – and the men we work with. Lady truck drivers, too, have varying experiences when it comes to their treatment in a male-dominated industry. Although women make up only about 7 percent of truck drivers, according to the National Transportation Institute, more and more are hitting the road.
I recently had the privilege of riding along with a truck driver here in Pennsylvania named Patty. Patty is fairly new to the industry, joining first as a team driver and now enjoying the highway solo. During our drive, Patty and I talked about all kinds of things. She explained her process for pre-trip and post-trip inspection. We chatted about all the things you need to keep your eye on as you’re driving and how to operate the truck. She also explained the challenges in backing up and the annoyance of traffic and delivery delays. Most importantly, we talked about lady truck drivers and what it’s like for her specifically on the road. Patty shared some realities with me and now I’ll share them with you! I hope any women out there who are considering joining the industry can benefit from Patty’s perspective.
The Reality for Lady Truck Drivers, According to Patty
Don’t be intimidated.
The biggest thing I took away from riding along with Patty is to not be intimidated – by the men or the big truck. Being alone on the road is less scary than you think. There’s a certain power that comes with controlling such a large vehicle on the highway. You’ll get to see amazing sunrises and sunsets, and trucking is a lucrative and consistent career path. Sure, it may be weird getting used to sleeping alone in the cab or having to find parking in a desolate truck stop in the middle of the Great Plains. However, you adjust and eventually the unfamiliar will all look familiar.
Most of the time, men don’t care.
From what Patty has experienced, men don’t usually treat her any differently than they do the other “guys” on the road. In fact, when she was a new driver, the men who had been driving for years were friendly and helpful in assisting her in backing up. Backing up, according to Patty, was one of the hardest things to learn when it comes to becoming a truck driver. In the beginning, she wasn’t quite confident when doing it, but over time she’s getting better. All you need to do is believe in yourself and practice!
Sometimes, you’ll feel their digs.
Every once in a while, she notices a bit of discrimination on the highway. Let’s face it ladies – there’s always that one guy out there who has to give the rest a bad name. Don’t pay attention to them. You and pretty much everyone else knows that women are just as capable as men when it comes to driving a semi-truck.
Pay attention to your surroundings.
Whether you’re a truck driver or not, it’s important to pay attention to your surroundings. No matter where you go alone, it’s a good idea to pay attention to who is walking in front of and behind you. The second part to that is knowing how to defend yourself if something should happen. Being aware and paying attention is different than being constantly paranoid and afraid.
The highway is calling!
Most importantly, know that there are other lady truck drivers on the road. And guess what… they want to see you out there!!! The highway is calling you. Check out the list of CDL schools available to you. After just a short time of training, you can be in your very own truck and helping to move America forward. What that time comes, you know where to find the best trucking job for you!
Watch! Hop in the cab to learn what it is REALLY like for lady truck drivers!
Women in Trucking: Patty's Perspective on the Road - YouTube
It’s not a pleasant thought, but what if something does go wrong while you’re on the road? Even the industry’s best drivers need to think about their insurance options as owner-operators. Continue reading for a brief overview of OOIDA insurance and how it can help you. Once you sign up, you’ll be driving care-free in no time!
An Introduction to OOIDA
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) offers small business drivers a variety of cost-effective insurance plans. The organization’s main goal since 1973 has been to fight for the rights of professional drivers like you!
OOIDA’s founders created this association when they became frustrated with the state of the trucking industry in the early ’70s. They realized that in order to influence lawmakers, they had to unite as a group. Hence the OOIDA was formed. Headquartered in Kansas City, the OOIDA continues to assist owner-operators, professional drivers, and smaller fleets as they face industry problems.
Now that you know a little bit about the OOIDA and its mission, we’ll move onto some of the benefits that its members enjoy.
In addition to protecting the rights of truckers around the country, the OOIDA also provides several inexpensive truck insurance plans. OOIDA insurance plans strive to save you money by offering monthly payment options instead of costly lump-sum payments and added costs.
Additional perks of choosing OOIDA insurance include:
The OOIDA Retirement Plan is designed to meet the needs of small-business truck drivers. Regardless of who you drive for, this plan helps you start saving for retirement. This plan offers time-flexible saving options and tax-deductible contributions of as much as $12,000 a year!
Business assistance is another benefit that OOIDA members enjoy. The organization will happily share its expertise to help drivers navigate difficult issues within the trucking industry. Trucking professionals are available daily to answer questions regarding anything from safety tips to federal regulations.
So, Is OOIDA Insurance the Right Choice for You?
So far, we’ve covered the many benefits and services of the OOIDA. These include OOIDA insurance, health care coverage, retirement savings, and business advice. In addition to these benefits, members also have access to discounts, identity theft management and resolution services, and drug and alcohol testing. This brief overview gives you an idea of what you can expect from working with the OOIDA, so now it’s time to do some of your own research.
You can do some more research online and also ask your friends in the industry about the insurance plans that they have. You want to focus on finding an organization that will fit your personal needs as a driver. So, start utilizing your connections to discover if signing up for OOIDA insurance really is the best option for you. Best of luck, and drive safely out there!
Do you have experience with OOIDA? What are your thoughts on the quality of their benefits and services? Is there another provider you would recommend instead? Help your fellow drivers out by sharing your experiences in the comments section below!
A wise trucker once said that the first year on the road isn’t about the money, it’s about survival. Those who have made it past their first year on the road know just how true that statement is. Life on the road is not for the weak of heart. Regrettably, a lot of drivers fail before they get all 18 wheels spinning down the freeway.
So why do so many rookie drivers fail? Perhaps it’s the long hours alone with your thoughts, or maybe new drivers simply get lonely. There are plenty of things that could hinder your love for the open road. This is why we’ve put together some rookie driver tips to make your rookie year is the first of many memorable years to come.
Is Driving the Right Career for You?
Before you read up on rookie driver tips, it’s important to find out if driving is the right career for you. There are many benefits of being a truck driver. From competitive pay to vacation and the opportunity to be out on the open road. Truck drivers are very special. You need to be okay with being by yourself for long stretches of time. In time, you will to learn how to handle stressful situations well. You never know what to expect!
If this sounds like you, then trucking might be for you! Now that you have decided to be a rookie driver, you may be nervous. Read our rookie driver tips to calm those nerves and get trucking!
5 Rookie Driver Tips to Know
Don’t be distant with dispatch: Your dispatcher is like the holy grail of loads, and loads = miles = money. Ask your dispatcher how their day is going, or what they plan to do during the holiday weekend. Above all, work to build a genuine relationship, not solely dishing out compliments for the sake of gaining mileage.
Prepare food on the road: On-the-road truckers are at risk for poor health due to minimal exercise. Something as simple as taking a 15-minute walk before a long drive will do wonders for your physical and mental health. Some drivers even recommend taking a crockpot on the road for healthy, homestyle meals.
Never refuse a load: If you’ve come down with pneumonia, that’s one thing, but don’t be quick to turn down driving opportunities. Truck drivers need to have dedication. If they refuse a load, it can show a serious lack of motivation and work ethic. Stay motivated and get excited—dedication is worth it.
Remember that hard work actually pays off: Trucking is an industry where hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. When on the road, you will only get what you give. If you exude minimal effort, you’ll get minimum reward. But put in extra effort and you’ll be rewarded and feel valued.
Don’t choose time over safety: Sure, we want to impress the first week on the job, but that can’t always happen without risking anyone’s personal safety. Although it’s great to be early, the safety risk just isn’t worth rushing. Be safe, watch out for other drivers, and enjoy the ride.
It goes without saying that truck drivers are tough. It takes a lot of hard work and devotion to be successful in the industry. Just remember that if you make it through your rookie year with a good work ethic and respect for the industry, you’ll soon understand the affinity for the open road. Now that you have all of the rookie driving tips you need, you can browse our list of trucking jobs and get started!
What are some additional tips for rookie drivers? Share with us in the comments below!
Defensive Driving Tips for Truck Drivers: The Smith System! - YouTube
Defensive Driving Tips For Truck Drivers
Most trucking companies will urge truck drivers to follow the SMITH defensive system. This system was put into place to ensure that drivers are maintaining awareness while on the road. In the video below, Greg Brandenburg goes over some of the defensive driving tips for truck drivers that have been instilled in the fleet over at Carlisle Carriers.
Look Towards the Future
One of the most important defensive driving tips for truck drivers is anticipation. We like to call this aiming high in steering. This means that you’re looking further down the road (literally) than you might think. Drivers are encouraged to look ahead of them because it takes longer for a big rig to stop than a car does. You’ll most likely be carrying a heavy load, so anticipating a car that might cross in front of you or a roadwork bottleneck is important during your travels. Defensive driving is often about being reactive so you can anticipate the obstacles that come at you.
Get the Big Picture
This tip goes hand in hand with looking towards the future. Not only do you want to keep an eye on what’s in front of you, but you also want to keep an eye on what’s around you by using your side and rearview mirrors. When changing lanes, you want to ensure that you don’t have any vehicles in your blind spots. You also want to make sure you’re not impeding someone who is trying to get into your lane. When in doubt, it’s best to just let them merge over.
Keep Your Eyes Moving
Another one of the most important defensive driving tips for truck drivers is to keep your eyes moving at all times. This means you will want to scan your mirrors and the road as often as possible. It’s no exaggeration when we say that a driving hazard can pop out from any direction. No matter how fast or slow you’re moving your eyes should constantly be scanning your surroundings to ensure that you’re taking into account all potential obstacles.
Leave Yourself an Out
Another crucial tip for defensive driving is making sure you have an out. No, I don’t mean an excuse for why you didn’t drop off that cargo on time. I’m talking about making sure you don’t get boxed in while driving. You want to make sure that you have an escape route. Driving while boxed in is very dangerous because you have limited mobility and it will be difficult to brake if the vehicle in front of you decides to stop suddenly.
Make Sure You’re Seen
One of the final and most important defensive driving tips for truck drivers is to make sure that other vehicles on the road see you. This means that you’re keeping your lights on at night so drivers in the dark know exactly where you are. This also includes using your turn signals when appropriate so others know where you’re heading or your four-ways if there is an emergency. Being seen isn’t just about lights though. You also want to brake as early as possible so those behind you know to do the same. Finally, you want to take wide turns to give yourself room and to let those around you to give you enough space to perform a proper turn.
It’s a simple fact that almost every industry in the world depends on trucks. And with a driver shortage, trucking companies have been increasing employee wages. This has caused potential drivers, trucking schools, and even some Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) employees to participate in fraudulent Commerical Driver’s License (CDL) schemes. CDL fraud is a problem that extends beyond the trucking industry because putting unqualified drivers on the road is a public safety issue.
Recent CDL Fraud Cases
CDL Fraud in New York
Brooklyn CDL Test Scheme
In April of 2016, the last of 11 defendants were found guilty of charges related to cheating on CDL tests. The court’s investigation found that all of the offenders had engaged in fraudulent CDL testing activities. These offenses occurred at five separate DMV test centers in the New York City area. Co-operating CDL applicants paid the guilty parties between $1,800-$2,500 in return for exam answers and escort assistance through the DMV processes. The DMV employees provided pencils with encoded answers, Bluetooth headsets, and other test-takers positioned nearby to take the exams. Undercover agents posing as applicants confirmed these practices.
Fake CDLs in Queens
In May of 2018, a commercial truck driver in Queens pleaded guilty to illegally providing CDLs to unfit drivers. The court stated that the driver and a co-conspirator in Florida sabotaged the CDL tests given by the Florida DMV. The driver’s partner used video and audio devices to transmit correct test answers to the applicants. The two men then issued real Florida CDLs and photo IDs to New York-based applicants, who exchanged the licenses for CDLs in New York State. These services cost as much as $2,600 per person.
CDL Fraud in Florida
In January of 2016, a truck driving school owner was sentenced and fined for his part in a CDL testing scheme. He and his employees had been illegally producing Florida driver licenses and CDLs. The Florida Highway Patrol and the Orange County Florida Tax Collector’s Office discovered that hundreds of people were applying for their CDL using the same residential address. The address belonged to the truck driving school that the offender owned and operated.
The school owner and his employees charged students between $1,800-$5,000 for a Florida CDL. The men helped the applicants cheat on their written exams and also provided false certifications to satisfy Florida residency requirements for drivers. They also had the students complete their basic control skills and road test through the same third-party CDL testing contractor. This scheme helped over 400 students receive fraudulent Florida CDLs.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s investigation helped to identify those who had obtained these fake licenses. Nearly 2,000 CDL drivers who had used suspicious third-party testers and medical examiners received warning letters. The drivers had to retake the test within 60 days or their CDLs would be revoked.
CDL Fraud in California
In December of 2017, an employee with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and another man pleaded guilty to charges related to their role in a conspiracy to sell CDLs. The DMV employee worked as a motor vehicle representative and part of his job was to process Class A, Class B, and Class C CDLs and identification card applications. With this access, he altered DMV database records to falsely show that applicants had passed their examinations when they had not. His partner then paid him for the fraudulent CDLs and distributed them.
False CDL test results in Louisiana
A third-party CDL tester was charged with falsifying CDL test results in May of 2016. This man had been certified to administer the tests by the Louisiana Department of Public Safety’s Office of Motor Vehicles. Instead of only conducting the tests, he would accept cash payment from applicants in exchange for a Commercial Driver’s Skill Test Certificate. These candidates never had to take the test, and with their certificate, they could obtain a CDL.
What are your thoughts on CDL fraud? Are there any recent cases that we missed in this blog? Let us know in the comments below!
You’ve probably heard of the American reality television series, Ice Road Truckers. It aired on the History Channel from 2007-2017 and it featured truck drivers traveling on seasonal routes through Canada and Alaska. We get it. Watching truckers drive in dangerous conditions may not sound very exciting. However, the show’s suspenseful nature and occasional melodramas kept viewers entertained for 11 seasons. It even spawned a spin-off series called IRT Deadliest Roads, which starred some familiar faces hauling loads in locations such as the Himalayas and South America. So, you’re probably wondering how realistic this ‘reality’ show is. Is driving a truck in bad weather and other risky situations really that hard? Continue reading as we pick away at the truths and falsehoods of Ice Road Truckers.
Ice Road Truckers: How Real is This Reality TV?
Trucking in Dangerous Weather is No Cake Walk
As we mentioned before, Ice Road Truckers is an incredibly suspenseful show. Week after week, the series left many of us clinging to the edges of our seats. Why you may ask? It’s because the show’s drivers were facing real danger on those icy roads. Common obstacles such as high winds, poor visibility, snow drifts, and extreme temperatures were constantly threatening the safety of the cast.
Luckily, there were many precautions that were taken both on screen and off to ensure the safety of the drivers. All truckers must consistently follow strict guidelines on the road in order to prevent accidents and successfully deliver their cargo. The truckers on the show had to do this while driving on some of the most dangerous roads in North America. Some examples of winter driving rules they had to follow were obeying speed limits, taking mandatory breaks, and wearing sunglasses to avoid snowblindness.
There are also patrol crews that monitor the icy roads. They make sure that the ice is not too thin for trailers to drive on top of. These groups are always on standby to alert drivers about difficult driving conditions and close roads whenever they are deemed unsafe.
Ice Road Truckers gives the viewer a taste of how precarious some routes can be while reminding them how much effort goes into keeping the drivers out of harm’s way.
You Have to Think on Your Feet
Another aspect of trucking that this show nailed was showing the audience how adaptable truck drivers have to be while they’re on the road. The number of skills required for truckers is pretty impressive. They have to meet tough deadlines, all while keeping themselves and their cargo safe and undamaged. Driving on desolate roads in Canada and Alaska only adds to these challenges. Regardless of dramatizations, the show’s truckers had to think quickly, adapt to new challenges, and solve problems on the fly. When people outside of the transportation industry watch the show, they can better understand just how difficult it can be to deliver goods to the businesses they rely on.
It’s Still Reality Television
Despite its successes, Ice Road Truckers is still a reality television show. In order to keep the audience engaged, the show included its fair share of scripted drama and exaggerations. After all, no one is going to watch a program for 11 seasons if it’s not exciting. Another common complaint from truck drivers is that the show features a lot of negative stereotypes. Love it or hate it, the formula that the show’s producers followed definitely worked. Ice Road Truckers still remains one of the most highly rated shows that The History Channel has ever produced.
What are your thoughts about Ice Road Truckers? Did the show do the profession justice? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you.
Life on the road can be lonely when you have your sights on yellow lines and a truck stop meal three hours away. But, what if I were to tell you that your beloved pooch could sit in as your trusted travel companion during those long drives across state lines? Say, “Adios!” to the days admiring your fiery pooch and majestic feline through a photograph clipped to your visor, and say, “Hello!” to sloppy puppy kisses and loving mews from the passenger seat of your big rig. It’s time you find your own little furry companion to brin on the road with you! Here’s what you need to know about trucking with a pet!
As we continue through 2019, more and more trucking companies are adapting their policies to become more pet-friendly as drivers haul freight across the nation. Many companies require a fee for your fluffy friends, but this is a small price to pay for the love and company from your beloved pet during long drives. Mental health has become a hot topic within the trucking issue, and a friend on the road can do wonders for your mental health. Plus, many companies are OK with cats and more exotic animals riding along, as long as they don’t cause a distraction from driving safely. Still, there are many things to consider when trucking with a pet…
After all, 95 percent of pet owners consider their pets to be part of the family, which is why the popularity of pets on the road is expected to grow significantly over the next few years. Not to mention, since so many drivers are on the road for lengthy periods of time, a pet in the passenger seat will bring some of the comforts of home to the open road. And wouldn’t snuggling up with your furry friend make sleeping after a long haul so much more enjoyable? Yes, they take a lot of work, and it’s not like you don’t already have enough to worry about on the road, but as long as you keep a few important things in mind, you’ll be able to enjoy trucking with a pet.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when trucking with a pet:
Be prepared to pay up
Your pup or feline may be required to pay rent in your truck. This could be in the form of a pet deposit fee, cleaning fee, or repairs in case of an accident. This doesn’t mean your company doesn’t trust you with your pet, it is simply a precaution because… accidents happen! Nonetheless, consider how much money you’ll need to set aside when trucking with a pet ahead of time. Trucking with a pet can be a dirty job, so you’ll want to maintain a clean environment for the safety of both you and your pet.
Get ready to plan around your pet
If you prefer cozying up in the sleeper bed of your truck, then this tip doesn’t apply to you. However, there may be lodging and truck stops that don’t allow pets, so don’t forget to research! Here’s a quick cheat sheet from Travel Centers of America for some pet-friendly rest stops. It’s also possible to have your pet certified as an emotion support animal. This will allow you to take them into more facilities.
You might need to leave Ms. Sassy and Lizard Larry at home
While the thought of trucking with pets is new and exciting, many companies only allow dogs as travel companions. The reason for this is simple. Cats become attached to places, and more exotic animals like snakes and lizards are less likely to adapt to long trips. Before you bring your companion on the road, make sure you know EXACTLY what the company policy is when it comes to traveling with pets.
Have your pet’s health papers ready
Just like truckers need to stay healthy and alert on the road, it is important for pets to stay healthy and healthy—especially when adapting to new environments. Veterinary inspection laws vary from state to state, so be sure to research health laws and keep your pet up to date with vaccinations. It’s also important that you make stops for checkups and vaccines while you’re out on the road.
Are you thinking about bringing your pet along for the ride? Read more about pet policies and whether or not your company is pet-friendly here.
There are many perks to having a pet on the road, such as barking alarm clock and source of protection. But most importantly, your pet will make you feel at home, regardless of where the road takes you. Trucking with a pet is a great opportunity and could be exactly what you need to make your trucking experience as successful as possible. So, will your pet call shotgun on the next long haul?
Let’s be real. Parking a big rig when you’re new to trucking can seem pretty scary. Hell, I failed my first driver’s test because I couldn’t parallel park in my Nissan Sentra — a compact car. Whether or not you passed your road test with flying colors, applying your skills on the open road is more challenging than you may think. That’s why we’ve put together this list of tractor trailer parking tips for new drivers. If you follow these guidelines and keep practicing, you’ll be parking like a pro in no time!
Tractor Trailer Parking Tips
One of the most important things to do when parking your rig is to remember your training. Before you park, you need to assess the situation, figure out which maneuver you will use, and pay attention to your surroundings at all times. One in five accidents occur in parking lots, so follow these additional tractor trailer parking tips to avoid any costly mistakes.
Plan Your Stops
Mapping out the stops you will use on a trip will help you stick to truck stops that are familiar and are well-lit. Knowing where you will stop ahead of time will help you save time and keep you safe.
Make a Checklist
Create a list of everything you need to do while you’re at a stop and try your best to take care of everything at your first stop. This will help you avoid unnecessary stops along the way and helps you reach your destination more quickly.
Utilize Rest Stops
Rest stop areas are designed to make your life easier as a truck driver. One of the biggest perks is pull-through parking for tractor trailers. This helps you avoid the hassle of parking in more difficult spaces.
Say No To The End Of The Row
If possible, try to avoid the spaces at the end of the rows. This helps you get away from traffic so that you can focus on maneuvering into your space. Having more space around you is always preferable, even if it’s towards the back of the lot. This may mean a longer walk to the rest area but just think of it as an extension of your exercise routine.
Start With The Hard Part
Backing out of a space is an easy way to get into an accident. If you can’t find a pull-through, try to back into your space so that you can get out more easily. No one likes to do it, but backing into a space is much safer than backing out of one later. We also recommend that you avoid parking near other trucks that have to back out of their spaces. You should also move to a different space if you noticed that your neighbor is parked poorly. This will help you keep your vehicle out of harm’s way. If you don’t have any other option, take a picture and record the truck’s name and DOT number. This will help you hold the other driver accountable if they damage your vehicle while you’re not around.
Don’t Forget To Use Your Four-Ways
Truckstop pedestrians are not the most attentive bunch. Many of them are either tired, distracted, or all of the above. Putting on your four-ways will increase the chance of them seeing you while you’re pulling in or backing up into a spot. If they still don’t see you, don’t be afraid to use your horn. They may be annoyed, but it’s certainly better than the alternative.
Straighten Out Whenever You Can
Do your best to line up your tractor and trailer when you park. If there’s less of your vehicle sticking out of the space, there’s a lower chance that someone will hit you.
Are there any tractor trailer parking tips that we missed? Let us know in the comments below! Have a safe trip!