Hello and welcome to the BW Mitchum Trucking blog! We’re bringing you the latest information on topics that matter to commercial truck drivers. BW Mitchum has been a leader in customized intermodal and domestic transportation, while still maintaining the core principles you expect from a 3rd-generation family business. We pride ourselves on our reliable and personalized customer service and provide whatever logistical support customers may need in addition to transportation, including warehousing, trans loading, and brokerage services. We are committed to continuing to provide the highest-quality transport services as we continue to grow.
In today’s blog, we’ll be discussing some of the most common mistakes made by new truck drivers. If you’re new to commercial truck driving, you are probably excited to get started. You may also be a bit nervous, which is understandable. Luckily for you, we’re here to let you know about some common mistakes made by rookie truck drivers so that you can avoid them! Some new truck drivers dive into the profession with a bit too much ambition and find themselves in predicaments. If you’re interested in learning more, you’re in the right place. Let’s get right into it.
Before we move into the mistakes, we’d like to take the time to remind you that commercial truck driving can be a challenging profession. Let’s start with the obvious– You’ll be on the road a lot more than the average person. Some truck drivers are on the road for days or even weeks delivering shipments back and forth. With that being said, truck driving can be extremely tiring, and new truck drivers tend to run a higher risk of burning themselves out. Trucking takes hard work, commitment, and determination, but you must also be aware of tiring yourself out, which can lead to mistakes being made. Here are some common mistakes new truck drivers might make hand how to avoid them!
Mistake #1: Not checking everything before you leave.
This might seem like an obvious one, but this will take 10 to 15 minutes at most. It is not worth the risk to skip it. Never leave without double-checking (or even triple checking!) your destination. Additionally, you should always take time to do a pre-trip safety inspection. Including, inspecting the inside and outside of the vehicle. Start the truck, check your gauges, adjust your mirrors, and make sure your lights and signals work. Walk around the outside of the truck to check for anything out of place or any problems with the tires, and then thoroughly check the trailer and load. Make sure that you are carrying the correct load– You don’t want to drive hundreds of miles and then find out that you don’t have the right load. Perform a pre-trip inspection and check your paperwork before driving anywhere, whether you are going to or from a destination.
Mistake #2: Driving too fast.
New to trucking and your first commercial truck driving job is exciting, but you should always be cautious of your speed. In the U.S., a semi-truck with a loaded trailer can weigh up to 80,000 lbs– That’s a lot of weight to carry around, and going too fast, can cause you to lose control quickly. If you need to hit the brakes suddenly, you may slide to the other side of the road. Also, keep in mind that when traveling downhill, you need to be especially careful of your speed. Picking up speed when going downhill can make it almost impossible to come to a stop or control your truck. In addition to the safety risks of speeding, it also burns up gas quickly. Speeding is a bad habit to avoid, and a wreck will slow you down much more than driving at a reduced speed will.
Mistake #3: Not taking safety practices seriously.
Oftentimes, people don’t take safety practices as seriously as they should. Some people have the mentality that nothing bad will happen to them, especially if they are overconfident. However, no one is immune to accidents. As a new truck driver, it is crucial that you start forming good, safety-conscious habits to avoid accidents and keep a clean driving record. Some of these safety practices include following the speed limit and performing pre-trip inspections, as mentioned above. Other safety measures that should be taken seriously include:
- Adhering to weight limits– An overloaded trailer can be difficult to control or maneuver.
- Securing cargo properly– Periodically check that your load is tied down throughout the duration of your trip. Loose or poorly loaded cargo can go flying and potentially injure someone.
- Being aware of road and weather conditions– Pay attention to signage for upcoming construction or detours, and always check the weather ahead of time so you know what you’re getting into. For example, you will need to drive slower in certain weather conditions, like rain or snow.
- Staying focused– Keep your eyes on the road, and try not to get distracted by the radio, eating, or your phone. If you need to make a call or text, safely pull over first. It’s not worth the risk.
- Wearing your seatbelt– Yes, you need to wear a seatbelt, even in a large truck. Seatbelts can save lives and reduce injuries.
We encourage you to check out our previous blog on safe driving practices!
Mistake #4: Forgetting about your trailer.
With commercial trucks being so large and bulky, it might seem silly to suggest that anyone could forget about the trailer. However, you’d be surprised at how easy it is to do so, especially when you are a new truck driver. For example, it is an extremely common mistake new drivers make miscalculating or misjudging turning distance or maneuvers, simply because they are not used to hauling around a large trailer. This can be prevented by paying close attention at all times and taking your time. Before turning, be sure to check your blindspots and leave ample space. Take your time, go slowly, and double (or triple) check your blindspots before making that turn. We recommend using the SMOG technique when changing lanes. SMOG is an acronym for Signal-Mirror-Over Shoulder-Go. Following this technique can help you eliminate blind spots before you turn.
Mistake #5: Not asking for help.
Sometimes, you may feel like a burden for asking questions. We want to assure you that that’s never the case! Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are plenty of seasoned and experienced truck drivers out there with knowledge that may help you. Make an effort to get to know experienced drivers, dispatchers, and other staff members within your company. Chances are, they’ll have some good advice to spare. They’ll be able to help you adapt to this new lifestyle. You may even want to strike up a conversation with a fellow truck driver at a rest stop– You never know what you might learn! Just keep in mind that not all advice is good advice. Use good judgment and compare the advice you receive to that from trusted sources.
These are just a few of the common mistakes new truck drivers make. It is important to note that making mistakes as a rookie happens, so don’t beat yourself up over small mistakes. Taking proper precautions can help you avoid mistakes, however! Here at BW Mitchum, safety is a part of who we are, and our drivers, dispatchers, and staff work together to focus on compliance and safety awareness. We hope you found this article informative, and we hope to see you back on the blog soon for more tips and insight on topics involving truck drivers. If you are currently seeking new opportunities in the commercial trucking industry, we are always interested in adding new talent to our team! Visit our opportunities page to learn more about our requirements and apply to one of our open positions. Thank you for reading!