Over-the-road, or OTR, truck driving is a great job with potential for career growth. Although life on the road is difficult, there are a few tips and tricks that serve all professional drivers well.
1. Prepare for everything that could go wrong.
An over-the-road truck driver understands that life on the road holds many surprises. Whether it is unexpected severe weather, equipment failure, or traffic backed up for miles, you have to be prepared for every possible scenario when you are behind the wheel.
First, you should establish the right mindset. This gives you the best chance to overcome problems on the road by thinking carefully about things you may need. Pack your truck carefully. Consider the length of your trip and possible weather conditions. Program your GPS, but also carry a map in case of equipment failure. With experience, you will better anticipate problems, and you will be better equipped to handle them on the road.
Use this attitude to communicate better as well. If you anticipate a delay, then contact your dispatcher so they can tell the customer. Everyone in the trucking industry understands that when you haul a load thousands of miles, you will likely encounter circumstances beyond your control. Keeping the lines of communication open makes the job easier.
2. Take care of your physical health
Over-the-road trucking requires you to be in great physical condition. Drivers in poor physical health are not as happy or productive on the road. The overall health and well-being of truck drivers is important. Hauling heavy loads and operating large machinery is a big responsibility. Taking care of yourself on the road will allow you to enjoy your time at home more as well.
Decide to make a plan to exercise during rest times, eat well while on the road, and take care of health concerns right away. You will not only perform better at your job, but you will also have a longer,more productive career as an OTR driver.
3. Show respect and act like a professional
Trucking can be a difficult and lonely job, but it also offers the opportunity to create lasting relationships, and establish your reputation as a reliable and safe driver. If you are polite, professional, and decent to everyone you meet while on the job, then word will travel fast.
Take special care of your relationship with your dispatcher. Even if you are just starting out as a company driver, those with whom you come into contact while on the job could have a positive effect on your future with your next employer or as an owner operator.
4. Be picky when it is time to choose an employer
It is exciting to get a job offer, and it is easy to overlook some important details. Before accepting a new job as an over the road trucker, make sure you understand the exact pay structure. Look closely at the benefits package to verify that it meets your needs. Talk with your potential employer about home time so you can communicate with your family about your schedule.
If you do not have a lot of trucking experience, then research the difference between percentage and mileage pay . Read about other drivers’ experiences with the company, and try to meet with a few drivers to get their impressions of their employer as well.
5. Avoid job-hopping
Turnover in the trucking industry is more than 100%. Many drivers leave after just a few months at their new job for slightly better pay or the promise of more time at home. Long-term success comes from choosing a great employer and then sticking with them.
Job-hopping will catch up with any driver eventually. There is a shortage of truck drivers, but companies have great difficulty finding drivers who have the miles, safety record, and a work history that shows they are not going to leave as soon as the smallest thing does not go their way.
When it’s time to leave your employer, be sure to give them ample notice. If you leave the company quickly, it may hurt your chances of getting a job for a good company in the future.
For more information
If you are an over-the-road truck driver looking for the opportunity to drive for a company that offers a variety of pay structures, safety bonuses, great benefits, and fuel discounts, then contact us at 866-336-9697.
RCX Solutions is hiring and offers full transparency and fair rates. You can also learn more about our open positions for company drivers and owner operators and apply to drive for RCX Solutions online .