Being a professional truck driver demands more skills than just navigating while holding a steering wheel. The road to success in trucking requires constructive positive methods to deal with the unexpected.
The positive attitude of the driver helps in all sorts of difficult situations. Maintaining road discipline and not overreacting to situations is vital for any professional trucker. Treating fellow drivers on the road with respect at all times adds to the better attitude. Since trucking takes one out of the bonds of 9-5 work, the lifestyle of a trucker can differ radically from other professionals. Adventurous life on the road requires the trucker to learn and balance both family and career. Uncertain routines and longer hours on the road can lead to mental and physical stress, but a trucker must be adapt to uncertainties.
Professional truckers know that their employers have a schedule which depends on their performance, and so they aim to solve all the challenges in shipping and transport. Being a team player is good and even the team drivers work alone out on the road. Being away from the support or assistance like a desk job, requires a self-dependent attitude. They have to be able to circumvent through any problem since they take sole responsibility of the truck and its cargo. Professional truckers always update their skills and knowledge for solving the problems like mechanical, traffic, worse road conditions or cargo issues.
They have to be able to cope up with working alone most of the time, irrespective of the time, since they always work alone. Irrespective of being alone most of the time, maintaining good people skills and balancing the family marks a great truck driver.
The driver should be alert about many factors including road conditions, weather and traffic conditions. Keeping in mind the weather forecast of the entire route and taking necessary precautions helps them ensure their timely arrival to the destination.
Technical knowledge such as using double clutch, floating gears, moving the fifth gear, and using jake brakes, and performing particular maneuvers is mandatory. The climate and weather will not always be supportive. Driving in the winter requires keen attention to both road and the vehicle. Knowing what you and your equipment can handle is very essential.
A good trucker is expected to take care of his truck and cargo. He has to watch out for any damage to the trailer or the cargo, making sure the wheels are turning during winter. Having the skills to fix frozen parts such as brake valves and brake shoe drums adds color to the whole picture.
A truck driver must have excellent hearing and vision and be in good physical condition, especially if their job requires loading and unloading freight. Being alone on the road means being able to physically handle the challenges the job throws at you. Mental and physical health should be well maintained by a truck driver.
Maintaining a good work relationship with the dispatch and the employer ensures better working experiences in trucking.
The land mass of the continent allows truckers to access not just inside their own country but also import and export to and from other countries. So, it is more likely to go over the borders for shipping and trade. It is best to be adapt to deal with people of different nationalities, culture and language and also to know the climate and terrain of neighboring countries.
And most of all, maintaining a clean working record will help in career by giving the satisfaction to the customers and the employers that their cargo is in safe hands. This quality will help in reducing the costs of maintenance and vehicle operation. Which in turn will show that the drives has respect for others and maintains professionalism.
Maintaining excellent vision and exercising sound judgment is a skill much needed for being a good truck driver. Complying with state and federal regulations for essential vehicular maintenance and regular examination of the truck is vital. A trucker also has to perform pre-trip and post-trip responsibilities in accordance with Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations and Sysco policies and procedures.
Abilities to see details at both close range and long range depth perception, hearing sensitivity on the road, the ability to see and perceive under low lighting conditions, static strength to exert maximum muscle force, ability to know your location in reference to the environment, quicker response time than average driver and extending flexibility for any given situation.
The ability to maintain the logs and records is much expected out of a trucker since it’s the logistical part of the job. During long haul driving, managing controllable cost and making necessary stops and breaks is mandatory since the federal regulations mandate the truck drivers to brake. For young drivers and fresh candidates, navigating the road and map reading skills are a valuable ally until they can rely upon their memory, knowledge and experience.
Other technical knowledge that a truck driver needs is knowing how to operate the dispensing equipment, forklift, setting up for loading dock, pinning up trailer and setting up axle trailer, chaining up a big rig to different types of trucks.
Various tests have to be taken in order to assess the truck drivers. Tests such as DOT physical test, DOT drug test, drug and alcohol screenings every time with a clean record maintains a clean driving profile of the truck driver. Often due to its challenging demands and employment type, drivers have to go through screening process conducted separately by military (if work is on contractual basis ) and other tests.
All new trucks come with inbuilt computer systems with maps and truck monitors. Truckers with the knowledge to operate and handle onboard computer systems get their way easy in this profession. Well-developed sense of spatial management to turn and cut in close corners in regular and longer trucks requires perception of road and space management.
A high sense of self-motivation, and genuine passion for the job without mismanaging the timetable will prove effective in getting the cargo on time. Especially in jobs that take much time away from family and personal life.
Long haul truck drivers are expected to maintain constant communication between the customer and the warehouse even during any rescheduling and follow all company procedures which always have some changes, obey traffic laws which may be different in different states, and follow safety regulations to avoid any unknown violation that might delay the schedule. They should be able to assist any new drivers assigned to train.
Truckers for bulk tankers that take edibles, chemicals or gasoline, which often requires cross country and inter country hauls, would require the knowledge and skills to load those materials by positioning various lifting devices to adjust to the trucks. Challenging part of going out of country is to comply with the standards of other countries and the related paperwork and documentation which should be complete and accurate.
An oilfield trucker requires clear vetting from the security agencies and intense training for being able to handle various sizes of those trucks. As the dynamics of any oil container are radically different from usual cargo shipment, they have to be handled extra carefully. Vehicular stability doesn’t rely only upon the mechanics of the vehicle as it also depends of the motion and stability of the unstable oil inside the container. Various sizes of the trucks in oilfield trucking come with daily logging, everyday reporting of delays and changes in schedule with accuracy.
No formal education is needed to become a truck driver, though a high school diploma is often preferred. Completion of a training course at an accredited truck driving school is helpful. A truck driver must obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Some states require completion of a truck driving skills and safety course before issuing a CDL. In some cases, special license endorsements are needed, such as air brakes endorsement or hazardous material (HAZMAT) endorsement. Employer training programs may also need to be completed.