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Job growth in the trucking industry means a lot of new operators on the road. If you’re part of this crowd, congratulations! Now, before you start diving into your new career, it’s important to make sure you’re familiar with the common rookie truck driver mistakes and how to avoid them. 

Read on to learn about common errors made by new truck drivers and what you can do to keep your new career moving forward. 

Forgetting to Ask for Advice 

Like many professions, driving a truck is a skill that builds with experience. A lot of the nuances of the job aren’t easy to identify during training or when just riding with another driver. Fortunately, you have the advantage of a massive network of experienced operators wherever you go! 

Take their advice seriously and don’t hold back from asking questions. For instance, when it comes to buying your first trailer, there’s a lot that goes into the decision. You can look online, or you can talk with professionals that have navigated through the same process you’re currently in. From new to used, the various types of trailers available, and finding a reputable trailer company to purchase from, there’s a lot to know! 

Advice doesn’t only need to come from other operators. Anyone who works in the industry, from office workers to technicians who have years of experience working on trailers can all help you figure out the best practices as you get familiar with life on the road. It’s good to be confident on the road, but don’t be overconfident and ignore the wisdom of more experienced truckers. This is one of the most common rookie truck driver mistakes! 

Ignoring Maintenance 

Another rookie truck driver mistake – and one that can be quite costly – is ignoring maintenance for your vehicle and trailer. Like any motor vehicle, there are a lot of moving parts that make your job possible. From engines to the tires to your coupling, any failure of your vehicle could spell disaster. 

Keep a vehicle maintenance checklist handy and run through it often. Maintenance is an on-going task for operators and doesn’t just come every few months. Frequent checks of your vehicle during regular use, keeping your fluid levels topped off and changing the oil in accordance with your owner’s manual will all help keep your truck on the road. 

More importantly, maintenance prevents issues like breakdowns or catastrophic failures. Everything on a vehicle wears over time. On a trailer, this includes the interior of your trailer, sealants, your tires and more. If something were to fail while you were traveling down a highway, the damage could be severe to you, other drivers, and your cargo. 

Staying up-to-date on trailer maintenance has a great benefit for you as well! A well-maintained vehicle operates at peak efficiency. A little tune-up today could save you from a major repair in three months. Keeping your tires properly inflated and helping the engine run smoothly can cut down on fuel costs and stops that eat away at your time. 

Ignoring Personal Wellness 

If ignoring vehicle maintenance were the top common rookie truck driver mistake, the second one would be ignoring your own wellness! Like your vehicle, you need to stay in condition to get the most out of your job. Long-haul trucking can be exhausting and it’s easy to fall into a routine where you aren’t taking care of your health. 

There are a lot of health tips for truck drivers, but the simplest approach is this: 

Get the Sleep You Need – Pushing yourself on the road may make sense in the short term, but eventually all that lack of sleep will catch up with you. Slow reaction times and the potential for falling asleep at the wheel make for dangerous driving. 

Try to Eat Healthy – It’s tempting to use life on the road as an excuse to indulge in fast food, restaurant meals and high-carb snacks. But like a lack of sleep, your energy and overall health can suffer if you aren’t getting the nutrition you need. Packing healthy snacks may not sound exciting, but you’ll appreciate it more as your career continues. 

Get the Exercise You Need – Trucking is far from an office job, but one similarity you share is the long periods of sitting. While loading and unloading can be backbreaking work, you should try to incorporate some focused exercises into your daily schedule. It doesn’t take much cab space to store a few hand weights! Many drivers opt for folding bikes or just basic bodyweight exercises to keep the blood flowing. 

Driving without a Plan 

Trip planning is a major part of being a successful driver. To an outsider, it may seem like all you need is a modern GPS and you’re all set. But experienced drivers know that other drivers or even the locals are often your best resources for getting to your destination on time. Not every road is safe (or legal) for trailers, and a GPS won’t typically convey this information. 

While the open road is often simple enough to maneuver, cities can be an issue. One-way roads, sharp turns, impatient traffic and other annoyances can put your safety in jeopardy. 

Before you hit the road, use your resources and plan your trip. Many drivers go as far as trying to plan out every single turn and stop they’ll make. This keeps you on time and avoids common headaches associated with navigating as a new truck driver. 

Contact Semi Service Today  

We service, repair, install, and upfit all types of trucks, vans, and trailers. Don’t know where to start? We can answer your questions and help you find what you need. Contact us online or give us a call at (801) 895-4419 to get started today!  

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