The training is finished; the job-offer is signed; the truck driver career has commenced; and now there’s so much to remember as you turn the ignition and drive out into your future. Stepping foot into the trucking industry can be daunting. What advice do you heed and what do you disregard? There is a lot of misinformation circulating. To make sense of the mess, we have assembled a “rookie driver survival guide” to put you in gear for a great future.
Standards that apply to veteran drivers are not the same for rookies, Brett Aquila from truckingtruth.com says. Amateurs are not expected to amass the same amount of miles as a veteran. The mind and body must first become acclimated to the demands of driving and the time management skills must be developed. So, here are a few things to recall to help refine your abilities.
Parking is an issue. The lots fill up quickly and its not uncommon to waste time hunting for a nook among miles of other trailers, Aquila states. Even arriving an hour later in the evening can make or break the chance of seizing a spot. Its exhausting, aggravating, inefficient and wasteful. “It didn’t take long for me to realize that if I can manage to get parked early (6 p.m.), and get up really early (2 a.m.), I’ll save a lot of time, energy and frustration.”
Traffic is a stress stimulator. While it’s impossible to completely avoid, it can be alleviated. Foolproof your schedule, Aquila instructs, by being astute with your time. Maintaining unorthodox hours (like 2 a.m.- 6 p.m.) can be the key. Not only will you be able to find better parking, but you can bypass traffic, arrive at appointments early and get loaded/unloaded ahead of schedule. If you can nail that timing you’ll generate better customer service, garner respect for your dispatcher and make more money quicker, Aquila exclaims.
Rest the mind and rest the body. “There is something critically important to know - the more exhausted you let yourself get, the less efficient your recovery time will be,” Aquila states. Listen to your body and sleep when you need it or else risk losing hours of energy and falling behind. “There’s a huge safety factor here too,” he claims. “You’re incredibly dangerous when you’re driving tired. Someone who has been up 24 straight hours has the same driving skills as someone who is legally drunk - it’s been proven through scientific testing.”
Drive Diligently. You have 60 feet of trailer behind you. Don’t narrow your safety margins by trying to slip into a tight spot in the lane next to you. Pass safely and properly, states an article from loadfti.com. And speaking of 60 feet, don’t get too frustrated when learning the art of backing up. It’s a technique the requires special maneuvering and calculating. Just remember to get out and look beforehand. Safety in the lot and on the highway should always be a priority.
Be cordial with your dispatcher. Launching a career by creating respected, professional relationships will render a respected image as a person and a driver, an article from gorillasafety.com says, and it will ultimately lead to further opportunities and success.
Lastly, be patient with yourself. Time management and tenacity behind the wheel are earned mile by mile. It takes perseverance and a willingness to learn along the way to evolve from a rookie to a veteran.
It’s easy to get the munchies while you are logging demanding hours behind the wheel. Although fueling the body is important for stabilizing energy and aiding in concentration, many of the on-the-go options do just the opposite. Gas stations and drive-throughs don’t provide proper sustenance for nourishing mind and body. Even the “lighter” options are often sparse in nutrients. Thus, we created a simple crash course on healthier habits that will help keep you energized and strengthen for the long hauls. Check it out!
At this point you might be asking, “what are healthy snacks anyways?” Anything that is nutrient dense (high in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals) and low in saturated fats and refined-sugar content, according to drivingjobs.landair.com. Protein is one of the best go to options and can be found in a lot of balanced foods.
“Protein fuels the brain much like the diesel fuels your truck! It upgrades your focus and concentration and gives you energy too,” a blogger from smart-trucking.com explains.
Since it is a struggle to find food at road-side gas stations or drive-throughs that meet these qualifications, our suggestion is to start packing snacks from home. Not only will you have a wider-range of options, but you will know exactly what goes into your stomach. Here are some good go-to food groups.
Tip - Eat fresh or dried fruit on an empty stomach for easier digestion. Fruit is also the best remedy for sugar surges. Pop a handful of grapes into the freezer for a frozen treat!
Tip - Don’t go for low fat or low sugar foods. Often, they are low in one ingredient and high in something else that is bad for you.
When in doubt, a tub of protein is what it’s all about. Mixing protein powder with water can act as a quick, nutrient-loaded meal when you don’t have time to shop. Buy brands with natural or even vegan ingredients. “A simple ‘protein drink’ can provide loads of top notch nutrition and can have as much as 27 grams of protein, about 1/2 of the daily requirement for the average male,” smart-trucking.com relays.
Learning to establish healthier habits is a skill that takes practice. But it all begins with taking the first step towards choosing the best fuel for your body, your brain and being behind the wheel.
It could result from the endless miles that afford your mind the time to wander, or it may be the melancholy tune that strikes a chord in your heart. Whatever your trigger may be, you are not alone in the feeling. Homesickness is not unusual among truckers. Unfortunately, it can add stress to the job and become a detriment to a career. But don’t worry, we are here to help! Check out these tips below on how to overcome loneliness on the road.
“One of the hardest parts, if not the hardest part, of becoming an over-the-road truck driver is leaving home,” a blogger from truckingtruth.com claims. The key is to separate on-the-road and at-home responsibilities. Allowing your feelings to dictate your driving could result in an unsuccessful career. Part of becoming an excellent driver is learning the skill of coping with emotional and mental spikes. “When we talk about folks being top-tier drivers, people always think we are just referring to their ability to endure long bouts at the wheel turning lots of miles each day, but there really is so much more.”
To master emotions you must first master the task. Set daily goals and concentrate on using brain power to reach those targets. This will come in handy when sentimental distractions of home begin to swell. One of those daily objectives could be fitting in a workout. Exercising produces endorphins which boosts mood and attitude. “It will also keep your mind busy while you are on mandatory breaks,” a blogger from trucklogics.com relays.
Don’t forget to use the assets of this extraordinary profession to break the mood blues. As a trucker you travel through many unique places. Embrace your home away from home and take advantage of tourist activities while you travel. “You get the awesome perk of being able to see the entire country already because you are a truck driver,” the blogger from trucklogics.com says. “So why not get out of your truck and enjoy the sights a little more?”
Lastly, remember you are not alone out there. Other truckers experience the same hardships. Surround yourselves with partners of the road and create your own fellowship of freighters. Sometimes the best cure for emotional unrest is spending time with other brothers and sisters in the trucking industry.
Luckily, Baleka’s extreme fitness background kept him from completely spiraling. He created a fitness system (which includes intense 1-minute workouts at truck stops) that has kept his body in check. His suggestion for other truckers is to commit to four minutes of exercise a day, like walking, running or doing jumping jacks and crunches and eventually build up to 15 minutes.
Exercise should not be a solo act, however. Eating healthy is just as crucial. Baleka encourages drivers to consume wholesome snacks every three hours in conjunction to regular meals. “Limit carbs and stick to protein: a handful of almonds, a low-fat cheese stick and tuna are examples of between-meal snacks for on-the-go people,” Baleka says in an article on fredericksburg.com. As for meals, try to choose nutritious cuisine. Austin Haskew from everytruckjob.com says “it’s easy to grab fast food and often cheaper, too. But the money you save on that food will be eaten away by future medical bills!”
Also, Baleka emphasizes a third component that contributes to better health - sleep! Sleep deficiency leads to weight gain, he explains. “Without adequate sleep, your body can’t regulate food intake properly.” Make sure and get those “zzz’s.”
Multiple methods exist to halt packing on the pounds. For example, working various muscle groups simultaneously can achieve the most out of a short exercise. Just keep some small weights and resistance bands in your truck to supplement any activity, Haskew recommends. If getting sweaty isn’t your jam, try a few short yoga videos - it’s great for body and mind. There are a plethora of short tutorials on Youtube.
If you’re ever stuck on what particular exercises to use, Baleka launched the Active Trucker Fitness Program which can be found as an extension of the Skimble’s Workout Trainer program app. This will help remove the stress of preparing a workout and help keep you on track. Whatever your regime may be, always keep this in mind: Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.
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