Many different traits make up a good truck driver, and there are a few key characteristics that can transform a driver from “good” to “great.”
Want to become the best truck driver you can be? See how you can incorporate the following skills and qualities into your life on the road:
1. Education and Training
The first step towards being a great truck driver is getting the education and training you need to be one. You don’t have to have a high school diploma or a college degree to be a great truck driver. But going to driving school to get your Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) will set you on the right path.
It is important to note that some companies like Dot Transportation, Inc. (DTI) require endorsements to your CDL, such as a Hazmat or Tanker endorsement. Having these qualifications in advance will make it easier to get the job you apply for.
Some companies have extensive driver training programs as well. It is essential to take these sessions seriously and learn as much as you can about the company’s procedures and business.
There will be times when you are stuck in traffic, or your schedule will be delayed and you can’t get on the road as quickly as you would like to. Maybe a customer is taking longer than usual, or the truck stop you were planning to take a break at is full. Sometimes a tire blows or another mechanical issue is brought to your attention and you have to address it right away.
All of these things can quickly happen in the day of the life of a truck driver. No matter what happens, it is important to keep your cool and be patient. It is better to be a safe driver and go through the right steps than to rush on the road and put yourself and others in danger.
3. Stress-management Skills
Along the same lines of staying patient, effective stress-management is a necessary quality of a great truck driver. We know it can be stressful to manage your time on the road, the random roadblocks that pop up, your relationships with your coworkers and your customers, and your life at home. But being able to manage those daily stressors is a crucial skill to have.
There are many ways to manage your stress, such as exercise, meditation, listening to music, eating healthy foods, talking to or thinking about your family, and more. Figuring out the methods that work best for you will only help you become a better truck driver.
4. Alertness & Awareness
Being alert and aware at all times while on the road is vital for not only your safety but also for the safety of those around you. There are so many different factors to be aware of while on the road: the weather conditions, the traffic around you, the quality of the road, how your truck and trailer are doing, and more.
Being an alert and aware truck driver means using all of your senses. Did you feel an unfamiliar vibration run through your truck? Do you smell something strange or alarming? Do you see an accident or a dangerous situation up ahead? Are you hearing something unusual coming from your vehicle?
Being alert and recognizing when a problem is on the rise is one of the easiest ways to make sure you are making safe choices on the road.
5. Time-management Skills
Being able to keep track of your time and be as efficient as possible has its perks. As a truck driver, you need to be able to manage your time so you can get your orders to customers on time, take your breaks at the best times, and get back home to see your family.
Time management can be seen when drivers pre-plan their routes and know when they are going to make stops throughout their trips.
Being an employee that your employer can rely on and a driver your customers can rely on is extremely important. Getting your work done in a timely manner, asking for help when you need it, understanding safety requirements, and making sure the goods you are transporting are in the best shape possible to keep your customer happy are just a few of the ways you can be seen as reliable.
7. Customer Service
Experience in customer service is an excellent quality to have as a truck driver. Many people do not consider truck driving to be a customer-service related job, but being able to provide good service to your customers when delivering product is a surefire way to go from “good” to “great.”
8. Communication Skills
Along similar lines to customer service, being able to communicate clearly can go a long way when you’re a truck driver. Whether you are talking to dispatch, your customers, your boss, fellow truck drivers, or your family, you need to be able to effectively and calmly and professionally communicate whatever message you are trying to get across—no matter the circumstances.
The majority of your time will be spent alone when you are on the road. Because you don’t have someone in the cab with you to depend on (unless you’re a team truck driver), having a sense of independence is important for a truck driver. You may have to face several challenges while on the road. Great truck drivers are able to problem solve on their own when they encounter those kinds of situations.
10. Mechanical Knowledge
Last, but not least, having some mechanical knowledge as a truck driver can be extremely helpful when on the road. Knowing how to take care of minor maintenance issues can save you time and give you the ability to get to a safe location to fully address the issue. Plus, knowing how to do certain mechanical tasks to help make sure your truck is complying with safety standards is also important.
At Dot, the quality of our truck drivers is one of our highest priorities. We value our drivers not only for the work they do but for simply being great people.