The United States is home to between 300,000-500,000 long-haul truckers. Over the course of the past few years, the industry has experienced a rapid evolution due to several factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the ELDT mandate and retention issues. In fact, according to the American Trucking Association, the average annual turnover rate at major trucking companies is 90%. That means for every 10 drivers a company hires, nine will be gone within 12 months.
If you’re reading this blog post, you clearly have a passion for what you do. Considering that many truck drivers are reaching retirement age, if you just started your career, now is the perfect time to hone your skills and make yourself more marketable. There are many skills that a truck driver needs to succeed, but there are three in particular that we think are especially important:
1) A safety-first mindset. Driving a rig that’s 10,000-plus pounds is a huge responsibility. Not only is it your job to get the cargo to its destination safely, you’re also responsible for the safety of the other drivers you encounter on the road. Before leaving for a run, take the time to do a pre-trip inspection. When you’re behind the wheel of your rig, buckle your seatbelt, follow the speed limit, be willing to let other drivers pass and pull over when you’re tired. Simple, repetitive practices like these make all the difference.
2) Navigation skills. As a truck driver, you have to know how to navigate highways, interstates and back-country roads as well as city streets, off-ramps and parking lots. Your career will undoubtedly take you through various terrains and altitudes, which are sure to present unique challenges. An in-cab navigation system is a worthy investment, but modern technology isn’t always reliable. It’s a good idea to learn how to read an Atlas and traditional paper maps.
3) The ability to communicate clearly. As a truck driver, you spend the majority of your working hours on the road. Even if your employer knows where you should be, it’s important to keep them in the loop. That’s especially true if you encounter inclement weather, a major car accident or some other obstacle that will prevent you from making it to your destination on time. You don’t want to annoy your boss, but you don’t want to go radio silent either. A brief text or email should suffice.
Would you add any other skills to our list? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Please, visit our Facebook page and leave a comment.