Common Mistakes New Truck Drivers Make

Phil Cohen

If you’re thinking about becoming a trucker or you’re just starting out, you might be feeling a little intimidated or nervous. With all the laws, rules and regulations in place, you want to make sure you’re prepared to successfully start your new career. Newbie drivers tend to learn the unwritten rules of the road for truckers over time, but some mistakes new truckers make can cost you time and money right away.

We’ve put together a list of common mistakes truck drivers starting out repeatedly make those newbies should try to avoid. If you own a trucking company and you’re hiring new drivers, be sure to warn them of these frequent mistakes rookies make to help save you in the long run.

8 Rookie Mistakes New Drivers Should Avoid

1.Becoming overly confiden

Congratulations new driver! You successfully got your CDL and can start your new career on the road. However, you still don’t have a lot of experience so don’t get too comfortable.

Remember when you were a teenager and first got your license? You thought you were the best, smartest driver. Now fast forward to your adult years, and when you pass someone running a stop sign, not using their blinker or speeding, the drivers are often teenagers…probably with a new license.

The same is true for driving a truck. These monstrous vehicles take some getting used to, so even though you have the knowledge to operate the truck, you lack the experience to drive like you rule the road. Avoid this new trucker driver mistake by making sure you’re comfortable, but not overly confident on the road.

2.Not asking for help

Asking for clarification in any new job is completely necessary to ensure you’re performing your job to the expectations of your employer. The same is true for driving a truck. It’s more professional to clarify something and ask for help than to mess something up because you didn’t want to ask a question.

Should you ask how to fill up your gas tank? Probably not. But should you clarify an address if it isn’t showing up in your maps? Probably.

Surrounding yourself with people you can trust and working for responsible people will help make this easier, allowing you to avoid this newbie mistake.

3.Listening to advice from everyone

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If someone is offering you a job that sounds like a dream job, there are probably some strings attached to it.

It’s important to ask fellow drivers for advice in these types of situations, but don’t necessarily take to heart all the advice that you get. Some drivers aren’t necessarily the best sources, so take all the information that you can, but ultimately make your own educated decisions for everything dealing with your career or load on the road.

4. Having too high of expectations

Life on the road as a truck driving can be very rewarding, but it isn’t as easy as some rookies think it’s going to be. Being away from home can be hard at times, and battling homesickness while trying to be professional can be challenging.

This mistake new truck drivers make isn’t necessarily dangerous in terms of safety, but it is important to keep in mind because it deals with mental health and your personal happiness. Know that life on the road can be difficult, but it’s oftentimes worth it in the end.

5. Not taking safety practices seriously

See the first mistake on our list…it goes hand-in-hand with this. Yes, you know the specific rules for operating your semi, but don’t skip the details that you think might be silly and unnecessary. Consider it a safe practice to protect your load as well. Although there are ways to prevent cargo theft, it is still a chance.  Some thieves will go to dangerous lengths to get what you keep in your truck.

Even if you’re in a hurry to meet a deadline or trying to avoid certain weather conditions, you should never skip a truck inspection or fail to check load tie-downs. This mistake newbies make can cause serious injuries to others too, so this isn’t one to take lightly.

6. Not taking care or yourself

A very common rookie mistake is failing to take care of yourself. This sounds like something that should be self-explanatory, but changing your lifestyle in order to adapt to life on the road can make this challenging at times.

Having to haul a load when you’re tired is oftentimes part of the job, but if you’re exhausted to the point where the massive vehicle you’re driving could hurt you or other drivers around you, it’s time to take a break. No job or amount of money is worth the risk of you causing injury or, in the worst-case scenario, death.

Part of being a professional driver is knowing your limits, so take care of yourself and you’ll be more successful and safe in the long run.

7. Being disorganized

All the paperwork necessary for you to drive is obviously very important, so make sure you’re filling out your logs, keeping track of receipts, paperwork after you deliver a load and everything else that goes along with driving.

Keeping yourself organized will help save you time and help you feel more at ease when you’re first starting out as a truck driver.

8. Lacking the finances to operate

It costs a lot to keep your truck on the road. If you’re a newbie working for a large company, this might not be a huge issue, but if you’re an owner-operator, factoring freight bills is a must.

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Phil Cohen

Phil is the owner of PRN Funding and sister company Factor Finders. He has been an authority in the factoring industry for over 20 years, serving on the board of directors for several factoring associations.


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