You’ve earned your Commercial Driver’s License and are ready to begin your first job as a professional truck driver. Well not so fast as you will need other skills and attributes in order to be a successful driver. While obtaining a CDL is the primary requirement to be hired as a professional truck driver, you will need other skills and attributes as well which have nothing whatsoever to do with your driving skills. New drivers are often overwhelmed by the knowledge they must possess or skills needed for them to be successful on the job.
Good mental stamina is certainly necessary. Truck drivers especially longhaul drivers must deal with different situations daily. They will be driving in different weather conditions, various traffic conditions and different dock situations. Drivers may have different assignments daily and different schedules. This makes it difficult for many drivers to get sufficient rest and oftentimes, they continue to drive when they are stressed out and exhausted. Drivers who lack good mental stamina may not do well in the trucking industry.
Route planning is a very important skill to have. You will need to know how to plan the most efficient route for your trip. Therefore, you will need to have good map reading skills or invest in a good quality GPS unit. If you fail to take the time to plan good routes for your trips you will lose valuable time, possibly get lost and certainly become very frustrated.
Organizational skills are a must to keep up the day to day requirements of the job. You must keep up with paperwork. You must secure the bills of lading for all trips. Also, be sure to keep receipts of any items that you pay with your own funds that are to be reimbursed by your company. This can include things such as unloading fees or other incidental fees.
Good time management skills are crucial in the trucking industry. You will discover that many loads have specific pick-up and delivery times or that you have a limited window in which to either pick up or deliver your load. You will need to be able to correctly estimate the amount of time that you will require in order to safely keep schedules.
Driver safety is obviously very important. Never speed just to keep appointments. You should always maintain the proper speed for the roads. Take time to do a pre-trip inspection on your truck and trailer to help assure that your vehicle is safe to drive before you get on the road. Take care to avoid dangerous situations on the highways. You should be aware of your surroundings at all times. Take the necessary steps to avoid being a crime victim. Seek out safe truck stops for overnight or extended parking so you can get sufficient rest.
Good driving skills are important, but mastering non-driving skills as well will help you to be a very successful commercial truck driver.
Originally published Dec. 30, 2011 on Ezine.com