Working as a trucker provides both excellent income and the freedom of the open road, but it can be difficult adjusting to the lifestyle. The last thing you want to do when you are out on a job is to find yourself without food, money, or a place to park and sleep. Here are four tips that can help beginning truckers be successful.
Maintaining Fuel Efficiency
Conserving fuel is important for making your run as efficient as possible, and there are several ways you can do this. The fuel efficiency of your truck will be affected most by how you drive. As much as possible, you should try to maintain a constant speed, using cruise control when appropriate. Frequent accelerations will increase the amount of air drag on the vehicle and force the engine to work harder, wasting valuable fuel.
Your fuel efficiency is also affected by the cargo you are hauling and the way it's loaded. You should stack your cargo as low as possible, especially if you are using an open top semi trailer. This will reduce air drag and increase fuel efficiency, and it also reduces the chance of losing cargo and potentially causing a traffic accident.
Safety on the Road
You must always respect the increased momentum and stopping time of a semi compared to other vehicles. In general, it is a good idea to have twice the space between your truck and the vehicle in front of you than you would when you are driving a car. You also need to have an increased awareness of the other drivers around you. Watch for aggressive drivers that may pass you in unsafe conditions or cut you off at intersections, as well as unaware drivers that linger in your truck's blind spots.
Truck drivers must be extra careful when they encounter hazardous conditions on the road. To remain in control of your truck, you should reduce your speed by around half when driving on wet or icy roads. You should also take extra care when driving through construction zones, as it is more difficult for trucks to maneuver through them than it is for smaller vehicles.
Adopt an Early Park, Early Rise Schedule
An early bird schedule is usually the most beneficial for truck drivers. Many truck stops are filled by the early evening, especially in winter, and it is easy to find yourself driving from stop to stop for an hour or more searching for a place to park. Over time this can lead to exhaustion, a state just as dangerous as driving drunk.
Another advantage of an early schedule is you can often cut hours or even days off of your delivery. Once you have gotten used to waking up in the wee hours of the morning, you can make pickups earlier in the day and have a full day of driving available. This will increase customer satisfaction and improve your reputation with your dispatcher.
Plan Ahead to Save Money
There are endless ways to spend too much money on the road, but there are also easy ways to save it that are less obvious. Many drivers get in the habit of eating fast food all the time, but this is bad for both your health and your wallet. Instead, you can get a portable refrigerator and stove for your truck so you can enjoy healthy meals. Additionally, you should use the tried-and-true method of budgeting so you know exactly where all of your hard-earned dollars are going.
While truck driving comes with its fair share of challenges, it is a lifestyle many people enjoy after they get used to its quirks. Keep these tips in mind and you will be well on your way to a successful trucking career.
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