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Big Rig Rookie: Beginner Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

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Starting any new career can be tricky and that’s true for the heavy goods transport industry perhaps even more than many others.

There are a number of mistakes that new haulage drivers make time and again. By following this list though, and avoiding the things mentioned, you can steer clear of the most obvious and, potentially, most damaging ones. Read on rookie!

Getting Lost

It sounds like the silliest and most condescending point – especially as driving trucks is predominantly on motorways – but losing your way is always an issue, even for more experienced haulage drivers. This can still happen even in the age of wireless internet maps and GPS, especially when truck-restricted routes aren’t always shown online. Plus, it can be surprisingly (and frustratingly) easy to miss signs from the elevated position in the cab.

If you do make a mistake, don’t panic, because that will only add to your problems. Care, calm and good planning are the only solutions.

Take care of Yourself

It can be very dangerous to drive when you’re feeling tired or stressed. It’s so important to recognise the signs of those impediments in your body, and be sensible about dealing with them. There are so many unforeseen factors – weather, traffic, route changes and more – that can alter the conditions of your drive.

It sounds obvious, but the most important thing is that you and your load reach the destination, regardless of intended delivery time. Sometimes delays are simply inevitable, but it’s vital you ensure you get adequate sleep and take regular breaks throughout the journey. Don’t rely on caffeine or any chemical supplements.

Being Unorganised

Common beginner mistakes include forgetting changes for tolls, ignoring your time log and miscalculating passage through heavy traffic areas. That’s why preparation is so important before your departure. Organise your route by researching everything beforehand, including alternative routes if anything goes awry with plan A.

Not Taking Advice from More Experienced Drivers

Newbies sometimes get overconfident and ignore the wisdom of more road-savvy haulage drivers. Resist this temptation! Picking the brains of others, listening to their horror stories and learning how they got out of certain situations can inform how you go about your new job – even if you don’t consciously realise you’re taking it all in.

Getting contact details from other drivers can also be a bonus, because sometimes you might need some urgent advice on the road, and their help over the phone could be invaluable.

Overspending on the Road

Take advantages of little money saving tips like buying food from supermarkets or preparing meals before departure. Relying on motorway stops can be very expensive. Add those savings up over the months and years and you have the potential to save yourself a small fortune.

Bully on the Big Rig

We all know other people can be annoying, especially on the road, and driving a big lorry puts you in a position of real power. But intimidating other road users because they cut you up or tooted their horns is exceptionally rude and dangerous, and gives haulage drivers a bad name. It’s important to take the high road in these situations and remain calm. This is your job, so take some professional pride.

By following these pearls of advice, with patience, professionalism and diligence, any beginner will be able to navigate their way through this challenging industry.
About author: Desiree Michels

Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Haulage Exchange provides services for matching a haulage driver with available haulage jobs. Over 5,400 member companies are networked together through the Exchange to fill empty capacity, get new clients and form long-lasting business relationships.

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