Whether you’ve recently begun your CDL trucking journey, or you’ve been driving for 20 years, you probably have the goal of being a great truck driver. Truckers enjoy the freedom and independence that the road brings, and along with it the opportunity to really succeed at the job and strive for improvement. Drivers know that nothing beats the pride and dignity that comes from a job well done, and the knowledge that you’re doing honest work to provide for themselves and their families. Whether you’re a rookie driver or a veteran, there’s always room for improvement. Here are five secrets to becoming a great truck driver.
Veteran drivers all keep coming back to this point: safety is a driver’s number one priority.
Truck driving can be a dangerous job considering freight and road safety. Drivers are responsible for maintaining the safety of their freight, themselves, and other motorists on the road. Remember that other drivers may not be familiar with the challenges and differences in driving a truck, so you may have to go out of your way to ensure their safety as well. Safety also involves having a good mechanical aptitude in case you need to troubleshoot equipment issues while on the road.
Truly great drivers take their safety department’s concerns seriously and do the due diligence to maintain safety. Pre and post trip inspections form the backbone of safety, but it can and should go much beyond that. Maintaining a safe and accident-free record will also clear the path for continued professional success with that carrier. If you’re hoping to switch to another carrier or become an owner-operator one day, a strong safety record will be essential.
2. Build relationships
Truck driving is often considered to be a solo gig- it’s just you and the open road. But drivers are actually in constant communication with others, whether it is dispatchers, fleet managers, or other drivers. You’ll also interact with shippers and receivers, and other reps from your own carrier or others.
The secret is that you need all these people in your corner to be successful.
So, a truly great truck driver seeks to build relationships with all these colleagues.
No man is an island, and no one does it alone, so seek to build a network of people you can communicate and work well with. Always strive to be courteous and respectful to everyone and try to be easy to work with. While trucking can be challenging, avoid projecting your negativity on colleagues since it may come back to bite you. In addition, great drivers need to avoid negativity from others impacting them, since the job is too important to be affected by someone’s bad attitude.
3. Prioritize health
Great drivers are the ones who don’t let the challenges of the job negatively impact their health and lifestyle. It’s no secret that truck driving is considered an unhealthy profession. Between the schedule challenges and sitting behind the wheel for hours at a time, it can take a toll on the mind and body.
Great truck drivers know that these aren’t excuses to neglect their mental and physical health.
Truck drivers can take simple measures to improve their diet and find time to exercise regularly. Some drivers cook in their cabins, or find small snacks to continually munch on, instead of relying on the greasy truck stop food. Similarly, finding about 15 minutes to exercise everyday can make a big difference in a truck driver’s lifestyle. Not having access to a gym shouldn’t be a problem since many exercises can be done in or around your truck, or in parking lots. While a trucker’s schedule is rarely regular, making sure you get proper sleep will help keep you alert and allow the body to rest and mind to feel fresh. Great truck drivers are the ones who are happier because they found a way to prioritize health despite the obstacles.
4. Professional attitude
The difference between a good truck driver and a great truck driver probably boils down just to attitude. Companies are looking to hire drivers who have certain characteristics. They want to make sure drivers can be reliable, responsible, honest, and work hard.
However good a driver’s record, credentials, or skills are, there’s no substitute for good character.
Keeping this in mind, make sure you’re always on time. Being reliable shows everyone that you take the scheduling seriously and can be depended on to make deliveries on time. Timeliness will also shine through when you’re looking to get promotions or raises or looking for a better driving job elsewhere.
A professional attitude also means not complaining too much, or at least too loudly and to the wrong people. While trucking can be frustrating, complaining to your colleagues only reflects poorly on yourself instead of anyone else. Find a different outlet for complaining about work and maintain a professional attitude to distinguish yourself from other drivers. Working hard means sometimes taking the appealing runs or working extra when no one else can. Yes, it’s a sacrifice and you can’t do it every time. But whenever you do take that extra step, it will be noticed and will probably help in the future. Truck driving has become a more professional job, whether the general public realizes it or not. Treat yourself with respect and dignity, and maintain a professional attitude through all the troubles, and others will probably do the same.
5. Don’t forget life outside of trucking
Here’s a big secret to becoming a great truck driver: don’t think of trucking all the time.
Work-life balance is important in any profession, and it’s no different for truck drivers. In fact, there’s more of a risk that trucking can become all-consuming, so it’s important to know when to hit the metaphorical brakes and rest. Great truck drivers make sure that they find enough time to spend with their families. Even while away from home, you can Skype with the kids or enjoy a virtual date night with your partner. Finding a job with good home time will allow you to take a break from trucking, refuel and energize, and then return.
Even while on the road, great truckers will find hobbies to engage in. Some truckers like photography or cooking. Others have gotten into reading or audiobooks. Some others are passionate about travel or exercise.
Whatever your passion is, don’t leave it by the wayside just because you’re a truck driver.
Engaging in hobbies and leisure will help ensure a sound body and mind for work-life balance. Not only will you reset and forget the stresses of the job, but you’ll be better prepared for them when you get back to work. Remember: trucking isn’t everything!
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Truck drivers who travel long distances have a very tough schedule and a very stressful job. Driving all of those miles without getting any time at home for a week (or more) can take a toll on all of their personal relationships. This type of schedule is even tougher for the trucker who’s starting, or looking to start, a new relationship. So, when talking about trucker dating, how can you maintain an over the road relationship?
Open lines of communication are key to any good relationship. Plan for a video call once you’re parked for the night. Download an easy to use app for your phone, such as Skype or Facetime. These allow you have a face-to-face conversation, even if you’re thousands of miles from home. You can share your location’s current view and can see your partner’s face and surroundings. You could even virtually have dinner together this way. Not quite as good as being there, but so much more personal than just a phone call or a text.
2. Make Your Time Together Special
During the week, spend some time planning out your time together. It’s always a great mood booster to have something to look forward to! Maybe it’s a romantic restaurant that you both love, a nice hike in a local park to relax and unwind, or maybe a fun night at a local music event. No matter what the plans are, put some thought into making it special, and it will make the time pass more quickly until you’re together.
3. Trust is a Must
Keeping your eyes on the road could have a few different meanings when dating. Certainly, the obvious one of not being distracted while driving. It also can mean that during downtime at rest stops or when parked for the night, don’t let wandering eyes lead to trouble in your dating relationship. Building trust early is so important, especially when trucker dating. Don’t give your partner any reason to question your dedication, and vice versa. Be honest and trustworthy, and your significant other will do the same.
As a truck driver, the prospect of dating can be daunting. Travel schedule, time away from home, long hours during the day and sleeping at truck stops can make things tough for any relationship. But making the most of the technology options available, keeping focused on your job and your health in your downtime, and always having something special to look forward to with your partner can make things easier. And knowing there’s a trucker dating community out there who have successful relationships at home while out on the road. Keeping your relationship healthy can lead to a healthier life overall for any trucker.
Long Distance Date Ideas
Looking for more ideas to keep your relationship strong while you’re over the road? We’ve got you covered.
If you’re thinking about starting a new career in trucking, then you’ve probably been learning about how to enroll in CDL classes. The Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is what the Department of Transportation requires all drivers to obtain before being able to drive trucks professionally. Programs which offer CDL classes include community colleges and technical schools. CDL training usually lasts several weeks and includes behind-the-wheel training and classroom preparation. Eventually, truck drivers will take a series of written exams and skills tests to be officially granted a CDL permit. The permit is the first step to finding your first driving job with a trucking carrier. Here’s everything you need to know before taking CDL classes.
What is the CDL?
Students who want to become professional truck drivers must earn a Class A CDL. There are many other classes of the CDL which we detail further below. The type of CDL you obtain will determine what kinds of trucks you’re permitted to drive. The first step is to make sure you qualify. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sets the minimum standards that states must follow regarding the CDL, but it is the responsibility of the state to administer the license itself. Thus, some of the requirements vary some state to state. Each state is in charge of the application process, license fee, renewal procedures, and renewal cycle.
There are some universal requirements in order to qualify for the CDL. Applicants must be 18 years old and must have a valid driver’s license from the state where they are training. They must also submit driving records from the past 3-5 years. Different states may have slightly different physical requirements to evaluate medical fitness before applicants can qualify for the CDL.
Most CDL programs or trucking carriers want a clean three-year motor vehicle record
This means no speeding tickets, DUIs, accidents, or suspensions in that time. Some companies will be more lenient than others and may encourage you to reapply in the future. Applicants must also pass a drug screening, physical examination, and background check.
CDL classes will provide a mix of classroom studies and hands-on driving training. Students are expected to gain familiarity with the machinery and concepts on the road. Driving topics and techniques that are covered include close quarters driving, city driving, highway driving, road signs and rules, turning and backing-up the truck, and others. Classes will also cover a range of other helpful topics such as trucking industry information, safety and first aid, materials and cargo, state and federal laws, trip planning and routing, managing logbooks, and more. Coupling and uncoupling a trailer is another unique skill you might learn in most programs. Finally, understanding pre- and post-trip inspections is another essential skill you’ll learn.
There isn’t just one CDL. There are three CDL classes which are required to operate different types of motor vehicles. This will determine what kinds of trucking jobs you can take. The three CDL classes are:
Class A: required for any combination of vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, provided that the GVWR of the towed vehicle is in excess of 10,000 pounds. Vehicles requiring a Class A license are primarily tractor-trailers for long-distances.
Class B: required for any single vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 26,000 pounds or more, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle with a GVWR that does not exceed 10,000 pounds. Vehicles requiring a Class B CDL license may include buses, dump trucks, tow trucks, delivery trucks and garbage trucks.
Class C: Any vehicle or combination of vehicles that does not meet the criteria of either Class A or Class B, but is designed to transport 16 or more passengers, or is used in transporting materials classified as hazardous in the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act
In addition to the license, a CDL holder can complete and pass additional testing to receive certain endorsements. These prepare you for specialized trucking jobs. You can gain them along with your CDL or add them later along the way. The endorsements include:
T: Double/Triple Trailers- requires knowledge test only
P: Passenger- requires knowledge and skills tests
N: Tank vehicle- requires knowledge test only
H: Hazardous materials- requires knowledge test only
X: Combination of tank vehicle and hazardous materials endorsements- requires knowledge test only
S: School Bus- requires knowledge and skills tests
Finding a good CDL program
In order to complete CDL classes, you need to find a solid program. You’ll need to consider the quality of training and the cost and practicality of the program before you apply. Most CDL classes are offered by dedicated truck driving schools or community colleges. Some carriers may offer to help you obtain your CDL in return for committing to working there for a period afterwards.
Make sure to consider all your options before deciding on which type of program is best for you
Location and cost are definitely factors- ideally you want to find classes close to you, but if there is a better program further away, it may be a better choice. The cost of a good program is considerable- you can expect to pay between $4,000 to $10,000 for CDL training. There are plenty of grants and other financial aid options available since there is a shortage of drivers, so be sure to do your research before dropping a pretty penny.
The quality of training is the most important thing to consider. Remember that a good program length is several weeks, or about 160-200 hours of training.
If you find programs offering a CDL within a week or two, it’s probably too good to be true
You also want to make sure you get enough behind-the-wheel time in your CDL classes, although observational time is beneficial also. The student to instructor ratio and the quality of the instructors are strong indicators of the quality of the program. Good instructors are usually former/current drivers or industry specialists. Many programs will have some sort of job placement or networking service which can help you land that first truck driving job. You can read more about how to choose a CDL driving school on our previous post about the topic.
Taking the tests
Once you’ve completed your training in CDL classes, it’s time to proceed to the exams. You’ll get the Class A CDL by passing a series of written exams, which differ by state. In most states, these include tests on General Knowledge, Air Brakes, and Combination vehicles. In addition, you must pass a CDL driving test. Usually this is a three-part exam which includes a pre-trip inspection test, basic control skills test, and driving test. This skills test must take place at either a state CDL test site or an approved third-party test site in the testing state. Once the skills test has been passed, a driver can be issued an actual CDL license from that state.
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The Drive My Way job of the day comes from Dedicated Logistics Partner
The company began with 10 trucks in July 2017 and they now operate over 69 straight trucks, 36 tractors, and 59 trailers. This is across the DLP network that spans over 6 operating terminals and provides deliveries in 15 states nightly. Overall, they remain committed to providing the best service, exceeding their customers needs and wants, and going above and beyond for their people and safety. Their mission is simple: to provide the best service to their customers. In addition, they ship and deliver freight across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic daily meeting their goals in a safe and timely manor.
Currently, they are hiring Local Class A CDL Drivers in Allentown, PA. They are offering a $2,000 Sign-On Bonus, pay $1000 – $1500/week, and get drivers home daily. In addition, they offer well-maintained equipment, have full benefits available for drivers after 60 days, and pay weekly via direct deposit. Also, drivers work Monday through Friday and enjoys weekends off!
Dedicated Logistics Partner requires applicants to have their CDL A, be at least 25 years old, and have a clean MVR record.
Interested in applying?
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Today’s Job of the Day comes to us from Shama Express LLC.
Shama Express is always hiring as they remain committed to growing, giving them the ability to offer more incentives to drivers. In addition, Shama provides the best experience for drivers, resulting in low driver turnover. Also, Shama makes sure drivers receive pay on time, interact with friendly dispatchers, and get home frequently.
Currently, Shama Express LLC is hiring OTR Dry Van and Reefer drivers out of Grafton, OH. The drivers haul general freight w/ 53′ Dryvan Trailers (only). Shama offers a take home truck program, newer equipment, the option to spend time at home weekly, and much more. In addition, Shama pays all miles, including deadhead miles, guarantees layover pay, and offers unlimited referral bonuses.
Finally, Shama Express LLC asks that CDL A applicants are at least 21 years old and require less than a year minimum work experience.
Interested in applying?
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The Drive My Way job of the day comes from Valicor Environmental Services, a full service environmental company, with locations throughout the Midwest and South.
Valicor has openings right now for CDL A Tanker Drivers for their Huntsville, Alabama location. Drivers are home each night, with no OTR runs. The job features competitive pay, medical/dental benefits, paid holidays and time off, and more.