Essential Truck Driver Skills to Master Over Your Career

Essential Truck Driver Skills to Master Over Your Career

Becoming a truck driver can be a great career choice for many people, especially those who don’t mind spending some time out OTR. However, while the basic process might involve driving for long hours, truckers need various other skills. 

For instance, having a clean driving record, excellent navigational skills, and knowing how to back up a trailer are all essential. The best truck drivers have skills that go far beyond the simple operation of a semi-truck. Professionals will have traits that set them apart and make them stand out.

If you are new to the trucking world and considering whether it’s right for you, we’ll share the traits that make a trucker seem professional and capable. 

Fantastic Driving Skills

Being able to drive a truck means having excellent driving skills. Checking mirrors, being aware of speed limits, and watching for potential problems on the road are skills a trucker needs to use every day. The best truck driver can smoothly move through any road situation and make it to the destination.

As a driver spends more time in their rig, they’ll have the chance to practice the optimal way to change lanes and how to use the systems in the truck. You’ll also get used to watching for items or animals on the road and learn to avoid them to prevent harm to the truck and avoid causing an accident.

Nobody who gets in a truck for the first time has knowledge of the best driving skills. It takes time and effort to do this, so practice and be aware of your truck as well as the vehicles around you. Make an effort to learn from other people to be a safe driver when you hit the road.

A Dedication to Safety

Anytime someone pulls onto the road in a truck, there’s a chance that something could go wrong. In addition, it’s dangerous to spend hours every day on the road with other trucks, cars, SUVs, and other vehicles. The crucial skill that indicates a professional is a proper understanding of truck driving safety.

Not sure if you count as a highly safe driver? A great truck driver always looks at ways to stay protected and safe. For example, safety might mean carrying out pre-trip inspections, planning each trip, following all DOT regulations and rules, and properly carrying out unloading processes.

Another thing that sets a great driver apart is the willingness to ask for help. Letting your pride get in the way and forgoing safety is a recipe for disaster. Taking extra time to do something right while using all your attention makes you safer and designates you as a fantastic driver.

Superior Navigational Skills

The main goal of truck driving is going from one location to the next. In past years, this used to be a bit more challenging than today. However, the advent of GPS has given drivers a modern way to ensure they reach their next destination without any hiccups. 

However, GPS isn’t always 100% correct. As a truck driver, that’s something you’ll quickly realize. Sometimes, the GPS route won’t work for you, and you’ll need to navigate on your own. 

Being able to read a map is essential, and so is the knowledge to choose the correct route to get somewhere quickly without issues. For instance, you want to avoid going down restricted roads, ending up at bridges the truck is too heavy to cross, or at bridges too short for you to squeak underneath. All of this comes down to navigational skills.

The Ability to Communicate

It might seem like trucking is a job choice where communication is rare. Sometimes that’s true – but that isn’t the case in other situations. For example, when things are smooth driving, and nothing out of the ordinary happens, you might spend hours alone, which appeals to some people.

However, plans often change when you’re out on the road, requiring communication. For instance, bad weather, unexpected heavy traffic, or changes to delivery or assignment will need a driver to communicate with everyone involved to keep them in the loop.

This goes to show why communication is essential for truck drivers. Not speaking with a customer, manager, or owner about changes can lead to a loss of miles, missed loads, or delays in moving fright where it goes. Great truck drivers will be able to communicate well and keep things on track.

Exceptional Organizational Skills

One of the essential traits for a truck driver is an organization. If you can’t create a system that works to make you more productive, this career might be challenging for you. Each day out on the road is complex, with various things to keep track of. Without a system, things can go downhill fast.

Consider all the things you need to track over the course of a day: fuel expenses, trip planning, addresses, trailer numbers, logging miles, and hours of service. That doesn’t even include the items that might come up occasionally that add to the list of tasks for you.

If you can’t organize your work, paperwork, and belongings, the job might be challenging. Put a system into place to keep things in order, and you’ll find that everything is much easier. Keep organized and get moving down the road.

High Level of Motivation

It might seem strange for someone new to driving (or considering it as a career) to see motivation listed as an essential trucker skill. However, while driving involves moving a truck across roads, that doesn’t mean you don’t need a high degree of motivation some days.

As an example, an office worker might move between several projects over the course of the day. A teacher has the chance to tailor lesson plans, inspire children, and work with parents. On the other hand, truckers essentially sit in a truck and drive. So even if that’s something you enjoy, the motivation isn’t always going to be there.

When you start to drive for long hours, you might feel a bit lonely or tired. Having proper motivation will go a long way to keep you moving, even when the work is monotonous. Mastering this skill can distinguish the drivers who can handle the job on a long-term basis.

A Good Dose of Patience

We’ve mentioned a few situations where truckers need to deal with unexpected challenges. The best way to make it through those situations is with a touch of patience. Without taking things in stride, you could become frustrated or upset over things that are simply part of the job.

Waiting on a load, moving around unsafe drivers on the road, and changing plans when things go sideways are essential for truck drivers. If you have a good deal of patience, it will give you the ability to stay calm and relaxed even when you might feel frustrated over what is happening.

Another common frustration as a trucker is the need to move expensive freight quickly. It can seem as if every second has to be optimized. Using your organization skills and patience while being reliable can help in these kinds of situations.

The Ability to Stay Alert

Truck driving can be a dangerous career due to all the time on the road around other large moving vehicles. However, the best drivers understand that you can stay safe. Making an effort to remain alert whenever you are working is an essential part of the process. 

A big part of this is driving in a safe way by constantly looking around at the road, following the speed limit, and using your turn signals. You should follow the rules of the road and pay attention to your surroundings no matter what else is going on. That alertness is what will keep you and the other people on the road safe.

One of the best ways to create a better sense of alertness is by caring for yourself when you aren’t in the truck. Be sure you get plenty of sleep at night, spend time exercising, eat healthy foods, and stay hydrated. These things will keep you feeling good and better able to focus on the job.

Final Thoughts

Nobody starts out with all the skills that make them a premier trucker. But you can start by growing some of these essential traits and seeing how that affects your time on the road. Trucking can be a fun career that gives you access to the world’s beauty. So build your skills, and it could be something you do until you decide to retire.

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