7 Common Mistakes Made by New Truck Drivers
There’s a learning curve with any new job, including commercial driving. Even the most experienced truck driver makes mistakes, so it’s not unusual if you’re a newbie.
#1 Rushing Trip Preparations
Establishing a routine that includes completing required inspections, mapping your route and securing a load is a must. Hurrying through preparations can lead to mistakes, such as forgetting paperwork or missing a step in your pre-trip inspection. Restock supplies between drives so you have the professional and personal items you need on the road.
#2 Ignoring Safety Protocols
Following safety measures is crucial, regardless of how long you’ve been driving. One small mistake can lead to fatal mishaps, so review and enforce safety measures. Being overconfident in your abilities may cause complacency, and you could overlook important details. Remember simple things, like buckling your seatbelt, using turn signals and staying off your phone while driving.
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#3 Poor Driving Habits
Speeding: It’s dangerous to speed while driving a commercial vehicle due to its size and the momentum that builds up as you drive. The larger the vehicle, the longer it takes to slow down, which is dangerous if you speed to a red light or get cut off by another driver. Check your speedometer every few minutes and follow posted speed limits.
Disregarding road signs: Your GPS can’t tell you everything, so mind your surroundings. Pay attention to signage, including mile markers, truck routes, weigh scales, height, construction, alternate routes, grades and curves.
#4 Misjudging Clearance and Space
It can take time to get accustomed to operating a commercial truck, especially when backing up your trailer. Survey the vicinity before putting your truck in reverse. Stay vigilant about clearances and plan alternate routes if you encounter overhead obstructions. Misjudging wide turns is another common mistake rookie drivers make, so give yourself plenty of room when you round a corner.
#5 Not Having a Backup Plan
Prepare for the unexpected. While your GPS may be your go-to for directions, keep a map handy in case of a technical error. Maps are especially handy if your GPS doesn’t account for construction and road closures.
Keep a first aid kit in your cab in the event of injury. You should also have extra supplies such as water, food, clothes, blankets, batteries and a phone charger if you break down.
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#6 Cab Disorganization
Consider your cab your mobile office. Leaving papers and food wrappers around your truck can make it difficult to find the items you need when you need them.
Here are some organizational tips to consider:
- Use file folders to organize orders, receipts and other important paperwork.
- Keep personal items in plastic totes or storage containers.
- Get rid of trash whenever you make a stop.
- Have change ready for tolls.
#7 Ignoring Personal Health
You’ll spend plenty of time seated in your truck. Stretch, take a walk and move around during your breaks. While it may be tempting to grab carryout, it’s better to limit the amount of junk food in your diet. Try meal prep and pack healthy, travel-ready snacks to tide you over between meals.
Know your limits and never drive drowsy. A consistent sleep schedule can help you stay focused and energized during long hauls.Bauer Built Blog