Balancing the Budget: Managing Time and Miles as a New Driver
One thing that attracts a lot of people to a career as a truck driver is the opportunity to be paid based on performance; the more miles you run, the more you can earn. But sometimes having this carrot dangling out in front of new drivers can be frustrating. Becoming a big mile runner will take experience, but there are some tips to help get there quicker.
Parking can turn into a major headache for any driver, rookies and veterans alike. Especially with strict hours of service rules, you don’t want to be scrambling at the end of your clock to find a place to park. Because of this, many drivers end up losing hours during their work day stopping short to have a safe place to park for the night. As a new driver, a lot of stress can be alleviated with good trip planning and knowing where parking locations are is a huge part of that. After a while, you’ll get to know where truck stops are and/or which customers have facilities and will let you park onsite so that you don’t end up stopping short every day for fear of running out of time on the side of the highway. If you know that you can park at a customer location, getting there the night before an early pick up or delivery can save you valuable hours on your clock. Instead of getting up early and starting your clock to drive to the customer in the morning, you can wait to start your clock until after the customer finishes loading or unloading you, giving you fresh hours to run more miles during the day.
There are a lot of lifestyle changes to get used to as a new driver and it’s important to pace yourself in the early stages. A lot of veterans talk about spending a month at a time out on the road, “turning and burning” and rolling numbers on the odometer, but it’s important for rookie drivers to understand that they might not be able to put up the big numbers right away and trying to do so might cause you to burn yourself out. Driving tired is stressful and dangerous, not only for you, but for everyone driving around you. If you’re feeling run down and tired, the only way to come out of it is to rest.
No matter what, remember that safety comes first, always. Being a truck driver puts a lot of responsibility on your shoulders to be alert and cautious. There are a lot of safety hazards around you on the road and you can avoid or lessen the impact of accidents by being attentive and prepared to act quickly. Even though you can’t control what others do around you, make sure that you keep yourself in the best position and always take safety seriously.
Like any job, you’ll succeed as a truck driver if you put in the effort and keep a positive attitude. Doing little things to acclimate yourself to the new career will go a long way. Make your truck comfortable: have real sheets, a nice pillow and a good blanket; stock up with healthy, comfortable foods; get a good radio; keep it clean. Develop a strong relationship with your dispatcher: work hard for them and they’ll work hard for you; develop your reputation as a reliable driver, making sure to tell someone if you’re going to be late (or early!). Keep contact with family and friends: don’t isolate yourself in your truck. Doing these things and meticulously planning your trips will help you balance your time with your mileage goals and before you know it, you’ll be one of those veteran drivers sitting along the diner counter giving advice to the newbies out on their first turn.