New truck drivers often find the trucking industry demanding and frustrating. A portion of this experience is likely due to reading articles or watching videos that don’t cover the trucking industry as it should. Here in the trenches, it’s a completely different ballgame and you’re likely seeing that now. One of the main reasons Truckers Logic was built is to give you truthful facts and resources to the trucking industry, no sugar coating on anything and that’s what you’ll get here.
New Truck Driver Salary
New driver salaries are just like most jobs out there, you have to start from the bottom. While your earnings will be better than a lot of jobs that come to mind, you still have to start on the bottom of the pay scale due to your experience. It’s important to note that the trucking industry doesn’t pay to the same level of the cost of living in your state. You commonly get paid for your experience and the job/load at hand.
Most new truck drivers start off around $0.28 cents per mile. Other trucking companies and trucking loads may pay more. While you’re a new truck driver and don’t have a lot of experience behind you, you still have to stand your ground. Anything below $0.28 cents a mile is a joke. We won’t put any trucking companies on blast, but they’re out there. As a rookie driver, you have to stand on your own and stand up for what is right. Median wages for rookie truck drivers is between $0.27-$0.29 cents per mile.
Don’t Lose Your Cool
It doesn’t matter if you’re 21 or 50, despite any experience or knowledge you may have, you have to make sure you keep your cool at all times. Easier said than done, right? I can’t stress the importance of controlling your emotions at all times. I guess you could say, maintain a professional attitude at all cost.
There’s a lot of wrong that can happen when you lose your cool. The last thing you want to be doing is driving a semi pissed at the world. It’s not safe and I’ve seen it get many new drivers in trouble. You’re responsible for your actions and losing your cool can give you a quick exit. In most cases, someone is always watching you, especially when you’re a new truck driver.
I know that’s there a million things that can go wrong. I know there’s going be times when your anger is justified and then some. Trust me, drive enough miles and you’ll know exactly where I’m coming from. No trucking company wants a hot head or someone giving them shit all the time. If you have a complaint or issue, be a professional at all times.
Backing Up Your Truck
Learning how to back up your eighteen wheeler can be a tall task to say the least. Out of everything you have to learn driving a semi truck, this is certainly the toughest. In fact, I’ve seen new truck drivers walk away from the industry because they couldn’t get backing up. Backing up can be difficult at first but with a little time and practice, you can get it.
Backing up is where you get your street cred. It’s one thing to drive a semi down the road, backing up in a tight spot is another thing. It’s tough but with a little practice, you’ll become a pro in no time. Most veteran truck drivers will tell you to follow the tracks of your trailer. This is a great way to judge your angle.
Most importantly, don’t ever risk driving into something. If you have to get our of your rig to judge your angle, please do so. We’ve all did it and still do. On the contrary, knowing your route before hand is always important. The more you can avoid backing up in tight spots, the better off you’ll be until you get skilled at backing up.
Know Where Your Truck Stops Are
Knowing where truck stops are in route is a crucial advantage. There’s a lot of resources out there that you could use. We suggest using AllStays.com They have a great resource website that covers all the truck stops here in the United States. Just visit their website, choose your state and you’ll have instant access to the information you need.
Invest In A Good GPS
Before the big technology boom hit in the trucking industry, the old timers were forced to use maps. Thanks to global position trackers, we no longer have a need for maps. Nothing wrong with keeping some new updated maps just in case of an emergency, do keep that in mind.
You certainly want to invest in a GPS,, I prefer Garmin GPS. With the Garmin GPS, you’re going to get full access to lifetime maps and updates. Not bad at all for a few hundred dollars. You can get traffic reports and let me tell you, this alone makes the Garmin GPS worth the investment. I know mine has saved me a lot of money and kept me running. It’s nice when you can avoid those accidents that can take hours to clean up.
Some Things You Should Always Pack In Your Truck
Accidents and emergencies can happen at the drop of a dime and you always want to be prepared for the worst case scenario. While we can be prepared for anything, life seems to find a way to stop us in our tracks. Here’s some items that you should be carrying at all times;
- Week worth of water
- Week worth of food
- Week worth of clothing
- Extra battery for truck, batteries for devices/radio
- Duct Tape
- Tools, especially wrenches
- Jumper Cables
- A few gallons of diesel
We recommend this AAA emergency kit to get you started.
Safety Should Always Be Priority
Rookie truck drivers should always keep safety at the forefront. You’re responsible for the safety of yourself, your load and everyone else. When you’re a new driver, safety is usually fresh in your mind. But as time passes and you get comfortable, safety concerns can become less of a factor. We want you to always keep safety a priority.
There’s going to be times that you’re running late or plans don’t work out as you had planned. It happens to the best truck drivers. There’s going to be times when the dock is slow or you run into accidents. And I know when the wheels aren’t turning, we’re not making money. Even though things can be out of our control, you still need to follow your safety guidelines and procedures. Trucking companies know things happen, there’s no point risking your life trying to catch up or risking the lives of others.
Don’t Let Trucking Companies Run You Ragged
While you may not be making money while sitting at the dock for hours, neither does the company you’re driving for. And more times than not, they’ll want you to make it up. And since you’ve been at the dock all day waiting for your load while idle not making money, making up some time may sound like a great idea.But no reward ever comes without a risk.
The last thing you want on your mind is an accident that was your fault and a life lost caused by you. I’ve known truck drivers that live with this everyday. Trust me, you don’t want that kind of judgement eating at you every time you sit behind the wheel. Carefully weigh out every option but don’t let your trucking company run you ragged. And always be careful.
Always Be Careful Passing And Get Over
How many of you have been on the interstate and get behind two semi trucks side by side? I believe we all have at some point and time. This has been the cause of a lot of accidents over time and should be avoided when possible. If you’re going to pass another truck on the road, pass the truck and get over. Don’t hang out in the fast lane.
It doesn’t matter if you’re loaded or running empty, you should always pass with caution. There’s a lot of things that can go wrong. I’m not trying to scare you from passing, I do it all the time. But you want to make sure you keep safety priority. The longer you stay side by side, the more risk of something bad happening.
If other trucks are passing you, don’t get nervous. Maintain your lane, control your load and you’ll be fine. Do keep an extra eye out when big trucks pass. However, you should be paying attention to all automobiles and trucks on the road.
Treat Your Job As A Career
While you will likely start at the bottom of the ladder, you will have the opportunity to make more money and advance your career. The opportunity will be there but you have to take advantage of it. Work hard, be on time, get experience behind the wheel and keep a great safety behavior.
If you put in your time and work hard, others will notice and the opportunities will come about. You can go as far as you want. Perhaps you’ll want to remain a company driver or become an owner operator. Those doors will open but due keep in mind all the tips you’ve learned here. Keep a level head, work hard and always be safe.