Good truck drivers are much sought after in the fleet industry. Here are a few little-known tips to help you become a rock star trucker.
There’s a lot of information out there on how to improve your truck driving skills, but it’s impossible to take it all in unless you know what you’re looking for. So, we’ve done some digging and found the top five tips that will help you improve your trucking game. No matter what type of truck you drive, if you adapt and incorporate these ideas, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a top-notch truck driver.
Here are 5 little known driving tips for truck drivers:
Learn to read vehicle ‘body language’
This is a trick all professional drivers do well, and it’s one you only pick up through experience. Train yourself to start thinking about vehicle ‘body language’, and it will quickly become a life-saving habit. In a nutshell: reading vehicle body language is pre-empting what vehicles around are going to do before they do it. You need to be fully aware of all the vehicles around you and watch out for patterns.
For example: you might notice that a specific vehicle is consistently driving on the line separating your lanes. This often means the driver is looking for a gap to change lanes – and we all know that not everyone is good at judging exactly what counts as a ‘gap’. If you see a vehicle doing this, slow down and let them change lanes. Similarly, if you see a vehicle that’s zig-zagging between lanes, be prepared to have them cut in front of you with very little space to spare. Impatient drivers are not paying attention, so you need to do it for them.
Once you start thinking of driver behaviour as ‘vehicle body language’ you’ll find it gets easier to predict what each vehicle will do. It’s often frustrating that you need to think on their behalf, and give way when they’re being irresponsible, but putting safety first is the magic recipe to being the best truck driver in the business.
Be a pessimist
No, we’re advising anyone to walk around criticizing everything, but the best truck drivers are the ones who know that anything can go wrong at any time – and they’re prepared for it. Most truck drivers have never been in a serious accident, or even experienced a major vehicle break-down, so they tend to get too comfortable and assume that nothing can go wrong. And this is precisely when mistakes happen.
Watch those turns
By now you’ve probably picked up on the main theme here: it’s all about paying attention to the detail. And this is never more important than when you’re going into a turn. So many truck accidents happen because drivers get off guard by a turn in the road that’s sharper than they expected, or because there’s a stationary vehicle right after the turn and they can’t stop in time.
Experienced truckers know that every turn is unpredictable, no matter how often you drive the same route, or the same truck. Anything can happen: load weight can shift unexpectedly, or there could be a new pothole in exactly the wrong pace. If you want to be a sought-after truck driver you need to treat every turn as if you’re doing your license exam – with caution and precision.
Be a spectator
Many trucks and a lot of cargo gets damaged due to accidents whilst the truck is reversing into a loading or parking space. It’s true: reverse parking a truck is difficult, and it’s always possible to get it wrong. The problem is that many truck drivers don’t have the opportunity to practice their reversing skills until they’ve mastered the art. Nobody loans you a big rig on weekends to practice, but you can learn a lot by watching other drivers. Whenever you get the chance: watch closely whenever you see a truck being reversed into a loading or parking space. This will give you a much wider frame of reference than just your own experience, and will teach you a lot about what to do, and what not to do.
Ask for advice!
This isn’t exactly a driving tip, but it’s a crucial part of refining your skills. And for some reason, asking for advice just doesn’t come naturally to most people – so make a point of it. Find out who the best drivers are in your company, and ask them for tips. If you’re struggling with certain aspects, ask for help. You can even request specialised training from your fleet manager – it doesn’t show weakness, it shows that you want to improve, which makes you a very valuable asset.
As with any profession, it’s the little things that can make you truly great at your job. And if you include the above tips into your daily routine you will quickly become an even better driver.