Once you have completed your truck driving training and have passed your states CDL Exam and skills test you are probably ready to begin your first job as a professional truck driver. Successfully obtaining a CDL and knowing how to safely drive a truck is only one of the required skills needed to obtain a job although it is the primary requirement. In order for you to be a successful driver you will need other skills which have nothing whatsoever to do with driving.
Route Planning: One of the most important requirements is that you will need to be able to plan your trips including locating truck stops. You will need to have good route and trip planning skills. Also, you will need to be able to read road maps geared to professional truck drivers which have detailed truck routes or invest in a good GPS unit to be able to plan the most efficient route of your trip. If you fail to correctly plan your route you would lose valuable time. This could cause you to be late for pick-ups and deliveries. Also, if you are driving around aimlessly looking for your destination, you would almost certainly become very tired and frustrated.
Time Management Skills: You will need to have good time management skills. Long haul drivers usually don’t have regular schedules. Instead, Long Haul drivers work within a set amount of time called “Hours of Service.” A driver’s day consist of 14 hours although only 11 hours can be actual driving time. Drivers may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off duty time does not extend the 14 hour period. Also, there is a limit on how many hours you may work each week. Currently, if you’ve worked and driven a total of seventy hours per week, you cannot drive again until you take 34 consecutive hours off duty. Good time management is crucial to being able to successfully manage your schedule.
Rules of the Road: You will need to know rules and regulations of the road for commercial drivers. This includes knowing weight restrictions for loads and being able to know how to adjust the weight if this is possible. If the total weight is too heavy and there is no way to adjust the load, you may have to take the freight back to the shipper for part of it to be off loaded. This will cause you to lose valuable time in being able to deliver your load.
Paperwork: Keeping up with paperwork is a major responsibility. When a driver picks up a load, the driver will receive a bill of lading which is an itemized list of the items in that shipment. Upon delivery this bill of lading must be signed by the receiver. This is the paperwork that the driver will turn in to the employer as proof of delivery as well as the time the shipment was received. If drivers use their own funds to pay for any employer expenses such as unloading fees, tolls, etc. this paperwork must be submitted to the employer for reimbursement.
Ability to Adapt to Changes: Commercial drivers must be able to adapt to diverse situations and demands of the job. Drivers will encounter different situations daily because of the different towns and cities they will be in. City traffic may be very heavy, lots of traffic jams, etc. Rural areas may have very limited loads roads suitable to being able to handle heavy trucks. Drivers must be able to adapt to different work and sleep schedules. Drivers must be able to adapt to changing weather conditions. Longhaul drivers traveling cross country can encounter changing weather conditions. The weather can change from clear weather, to rain, to sleet and snow, etc. Drivers must be able to successfully handle these and other changes.
Mental Stamina: Drivers must be able to stay alert while driving. Longhaul driving is not a 9-5 job. Different locations, various pick-up and delivery times often make it difficult for drivers to get sufficient rest. Oftentimes, drivers continue to drive when they are stressed out and exhausted. Drivers must know how to deal with stress to be successful.
Driver Safety: Drivers should take care to avoid dangerous situations on the road. They should take the necessary steps to avoid being crime victims. Seek out good truck stops for overnight or extended parking. They should also drive safely as their lives as well as the lives of other drivers could be at risk should they fail to do so.
Patience: Patience is an absolute necessity in the trucking industry as drivers spend lots of time waiting to be dispatched on loads as well as waiting at docks to pick up and deliver loads. Road construction and accidents on interstates and other highways also require patience as these incidents often are the reason for delays.
Communication: Drivers must be easily able to communicate with dispatch as well as the outside world. Qualcomm e logs installed in trucks provide a wireless communication network for commercial truck drivers. This system allows you to keep in contact with dispatch and keep track of your hours of services.
Other features include allowing you to listen to your messages and play video games. A few features include allowing you the ability to listen to your messages, play video games, trailer management and report critical events. This system makes it very easy for drivers to receive information from dispatch in addition to the other benefits the system provides.
Good driving skills: It is important to have good driving skills. Good driving skills will help you to be safe on the roads and highways. Mastering these and additional skills are very important and will help to assure that you will be a successful commercial truck driver.