great truck driver

great truck driver

Whether you’ve recently begun your CDL trucking journey, or you’ve been driving for 20 years, you probably have the goal of being a great truck driver. Truckers enjoy the freedom and independence that the road brings, and along with it the opportunity to really succeed at the job and strive for improvement. Drivers know that nothing beats the pride and dignity that comes from a job well done, and the knowledge that you’re doing honest work to provide for themselves and their families. Whether you’re a rookie driver or a veteran, there’s always room for improvement. Here are five secrets to becoming a great truck driver.

1. Safety

Veteran drivers all keep coming back to this point: safety is a driver’s number one priority. Truck driving can be a dangerous job considering freight and road safety. Drivers are responsible for maintaining the safety of their freight, themselves, and other motorists on the road. Remember that other drivers may not be familiar with the challenges and differences in driving a truck, so you may have to go out of your way to ensure their safety as well. Safety also involves having a good mechanical aptitude in case you need to troubleshoot equipment issues while on the road.

Truly great drivers take their safety department’s concerns seriously and do the due diligence to maintain safety.

Pre- and post-trip inspections form the backbone of safety, but it can and should go much beyond that. Maintaining a safe and accident-free record will also clear the path for continued professional success with that carrier. If you’re hoping to switch to another carrier or become an owner-operator one day, a strong safety record will be essential.

2. Build relationships

Truck driving is often considered to be a solo gig- it’s just you and the open road. But drivers are actually in constant communication with others, whether it is dispatchers, fleet managers, or other drivers. You’ll also interact with shippers and receivers, and other reps from your own carrier or others.

The secret is that you need all these people in your corner to be successful.

So, a truly great truck driver seeks to build relationships with all these colleagues.

No man is an island, and no one does it alone, so seek to build a network of people you can communicate and work well with. Always strive to be courteous and respectful to everyone and try to be easy to work with. While trucking can be challenging, avoid projecting your negativity on colleagues since it may come back to bite you. In addition, great drivers need to avoid negativity from others impacting them, since the job is too important to be affected by someone’s bad attitude.

health3. Prioritize health

Great drivers are the ones who don’t let the challenges of the job negatively impact their health and lifestyle. It’s no secret that truck driving is considered an unhealthy profession. Between the schedule challenges and sitting behind the wheel for hours at a time, it can take a toll on the mind and body.

Great truck drivers know that these aren’t excuses to neglect their mental and physical health.

Truck drivers can take simple measures to improve their diet and find time to exercise regularly. Some drivers cook in their cabins, or find small snacks to continually munch on, instead of relying on the greasy truck stop food. Similarly, finding about 15 minutes to exercise everyday can make a big difference in a truck driver’s lifestyle. Not having access to a gym shouldn’t be a problem since many exercises can be done in or around your truck, or in parking lots. While a trucker’s schedule is rarely regular, making sure you get proper sleep will help keep you alert and allow the body to rest and mind to feel fresh. Great truck drivers are the ones who are happier because they found a way to prioritize health despite the obstacles.

Free Resource: Guide to Maintaining a Diet

Tips and recipes that are easy for truck drivers to make on the road.

4. Professional attitude

The difference between a good truck driver and a great truck driver probably boils down just to attitude. Companies are looking to hire drivers who have certain characteristics. They want to make sure drivers can be reliable, responsible, honest, and work hard.

However good a driver’s record, credentials, or skills are, there’s no substitute for good character.

Keeping this in mind, make sure you’re always on time. Being reliable shows everyone that you take the scheduling seriously and can be depended on to make deliveries on time. Timeliness will also shine through when you’re looking to get promotions or raises or looking for a better driving job elsewhere.

A professional attitude also means not complaining too much, or at least too loudly and to the wrong people. While trucking can be frustrating, complaining to your colleagues only reflects poorly on yourself instead of anyone else. Find a different outlet for complaining about work and maintain a professional attitude to distinguish yourself from other drivers. Working hard means sometimes taking the appealing runs or working extra when no one else can. Yes, it’s a sacrifice and you can’t do it every time. But whenever you do take that extra step, it will be noticed and will probably help in the future. Truck driving has become a more professional job, whether the general public realizes it or not. Treat yourself with respect and dignity, and maintain a professional attitude through all the troubles, and others will probably do the same.

parenting tips5. Don’t forget life outside of trucking

Here’s a big secret to becoming a great truck driver: don’t think of trucking all the time. Work-life balance is important in any profession, and it’s no different for truck drivers.

In fact, there’s more of a risk that trucking can become all-consuming, so it’s important to know when to hit the metaphorical brakes and rest.

Great truck drivers make sure that they find enough time to spend with their families. Even while away from home, you can Skype with the kids or enjoy a virtual date night with your partner. Finding a job with good home time will allow you to take a break from trucking, refuel and energize, and then return.

Even while on the road, great truckers will find hobbies to engage in. Some truckers like photography or cooking. Others have gotten into reading or audiobooks. Some others are passionate about travel or exercise.

Whatever your passion is, don’t leave it by the wayside just because you’re a truck driver.

Engaging in hobbies and leisure will help ensure a sound body and mind for work-life balance. Not only will you reset and forget the stresses of the job, but you’ll be better prepared for them when you get back to work. Remember: trucking isn’t everything!

truck driver at loading dock

Find a CDL Driver Job

We match you with a job based on your personal preferences and qualifications.

Find a CDL Job Today

17 replies
  1. Elisabeth Southgate
    Elisabeth Southgate says:

    I found it interesting when you said that truckers are in constant communication with others and that a good trucker will build good relationships with his dispatcher, managers, and other drivers. My nephew is thinking of driving trucks. He will be interested to know that it isn’t such a solo job.

    • Drive My Way
      Drive My Way says:

      Hi Elisabeth, that’s exciting your nephew is looking into trucking as a career. Does he have his CDL license? If he needs any advice or help finding a job that best fits his needs, please feel free to send him to our website. We’d love to talk to him!

  2. Amy Winters
    Amy Winters says:

    Thank you for pointing out that truck drivers can take steps to make sure they are eating correctly and having the proper diet while being behind the wheel. My brother has been thinking about getting a commercial driving license. It’s good to know that you can still be healthy and drive a big truck.

  3. Faylinn Byrne
    Faylinn Byrne says:

    Thank you so much for mentioning that great drivers focus and take care of their health. My dad decided to completely switch careers now that he divorced my mom, and he mentioned he would like to become a truck driver. I think he should look online to see if any jobs are offered and start from there.

    • Drive My Way
      Drive My Way says:

      Hi Faylinn, thanks for taking the time to reach out. That’s neat your dad is considering truck driving as his next career! We focus on helping truck drivers find a job that matches exactly what they are looking for from a home time, pay, benefits, etc. perspective. If your dad would like assistance in finding a good fit, please have him give us a call at 800-411-5840 or reach out to us here. We would love to help him!

  4. Cutter
    Cutter says:

    One MAJOR aspect in being a professional is your appearance.
    Dont be a slob! Even if it us a small thing like combing your hair or putting on a clean shirt before you present yourself (and your company) to a shipper/receiver. Also, maintain the appearance of your rig. Whether it is plain or a an all dressed up truck, the appearance tells companies and other drivers about you and your company. Remember, YOU just might be the only contact, from your company, that any other company or driver, ever has, so, present yourself well. Can make a huge difference for you. Be safe!

  5. Jeff Tappan
    Jeff Tappan says:

    The larger truck stop chains are selling fresh and cut fruit, salads, and fresh sandwiches. They do still offer a lot of fried food, but at least, there’s a choice. Some of them also have fitness rooms and walking trails.

  6. Cody Richard
    Cody Richard says:

    Mental health is a real issue & those who stay away from their families need to understand to give them some peaceful time to relax. One can’t just spend hours & hours on the road. It’s equally important to take care of their personal health.

  7. Louie- A CDL Jobs seeker
    Louie- A CDL Jobs seeker says:

    I can attest to maintaining the health aspect of driving. My whole attitude has gotten better since I started to excercise regularly. Regular excercise not only helps the physical aspect but also the mental aspect of health. Too bad it took me a few years to figure this out. Excercise really does give you more energy and helps with alertness on the road.

  8. Joe
    Joe says:

    5 secrets to becoming a great truck driver can be summed up with one answer. Don’t become a truck driver. It’s not worth the headaches anymore.

  9. Kate Hansen
    Kate Hansen says:

    It’s good to know that your number one priority needs to be safety. My brother was telling me a couple of days ago about how he wants to look into starting a course to become a truck driver, and he wanted to know some extra tips on being one. I’ll make sure to pass this information along to him once he starts his training courses to become a truck driver.

  10. Horace Moning
    Horace Moning says:

    Hi there I’m a start up Trucking company and I need all the connection I can thank you.

  11. Chris Pederson
    Chris Pederson says:

    I had no idea that truck drivers are almost always in constant communication. I imagine that could be a little bit hard to do while driving. I hope they teach that in their driving courses so they learn how to drive and communicate at the same time.

  12. Levi Armstrong
    Levi Armstrong says:

    I like that you said great truck drivers should know the importance of keeping themselves healthy by exercising regularly and improving their diet. My brother is thinking of switching careers and getting her commercial driver’s license soon to become a truck driver. If he proceeds with his plan and starts applying for CDL truck driver positions, I’ll encourage him to prioritize his health by getting him a gym membership. Thanks for this!

  13. Rebecca Gardner
    Rebecca Gardner says:

    It’s good to know that safety needs to be the first priority of any truck driver while they’re on the road. I just learned that my neighbor wants to have a custom crane truck manufactured to use in his business in the next city over. I’ll have to send him this article so he can keep your advice in mind when getting the hang of driving the crane truck soon.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

Comments are closed.