Sharing a truck with a trainer is not something most new drivers look forward to.
Why? You don’t have much say in who you get and how the two of you are going to get along. Actually, you have no say at all. You are a guest living in with someone else in their truck for several weeks.
I’ve heard horror stories of new drivers getting teamed with a trainer that did nothing, taught nothing, and knew nothing. In fact, some companies will allow a driver to reach “trainer” status with only 1 year of experience.
Though this isn’t the case always, there are a lot of really good trainers out there that know what they are doing and are good teachers.
Here are some things to think about:
Fact 1: There are some trainers out there that are doing it only for the little bit of extra money they get. They are not great drivers, they are just willing to be a trainer. There is no special qualifications a driver has to have in order to be a trainer.
Fact 2: Some trainers are good drivers but bad teachers.
Fact 3: You are going to be stuck with this person for several weeks (usually 6 weeks) in a small truck and you have to find a way to get along.
How can you survive being with them for 6 weeks?
Quick Answer: Keep it professional. Don’t expect that the two of you are going to become best friends. You probably won’t.
Just do what you need to do in order to learn as much as you can about driving a truck so that you can get on the road on your own.
Don’t create drama. Keep your distance and understand ahead of time that it isn’t going to be easy being trapped in a truck with a stranger that you know nothing about for the next 6 weeks.
In this article I’m going to share with you some tips that will make driving with your trainer easier.
If you are new to trucking then these 3 articles are must reads for you. Come back here after reading this article so you can check them out:
- Truck Stop Showers: What You Need To Have With You?
- 13 Reasons Why Truck Drivers Quit For Good
- 31 Newbie Tips and Tricks You Need To Know
1. Stick To The Driver Evaluation Form
The company should have some kind of checklist or evaluation form like this one to work from so that you learn some key skills and not have to rely on the trainer to make all the decisions regarding what he/she wants to teach you.
Stick to this evaluation form. As you are comfortable with skills on the list you can start checking them off. If you are not completely satisfied with your ability for a skill you shouldn’t check it off.
Nothing should be checked off the list until you master it. Let the trainer know that this is what you expect and they have to be patient with you.
2. Stay Professional And Friendly
Don’t be a jerk and there is a good chance (not always though) that the trainer won’t be one either.
You both know what the deal is. The two of you are together for the next several weeks and want to get through it as smoothly as possible.
As much as you want to minimize drama your trainer wants to do the same.
Don’t go into personal information unless you really feel comfortable with your trainer. Otherwise, keep some distance and don’t lose focus of what you are there to do.
3. Don’t Talk About Politics Or Religion
If you want to talk politics or religion you are going to start some problems.
Especially if you think your views are not the same. My advice is to avoid those two topics completely so that you have peace in your truck.
4. Practice Backing A Lot
Backing a tractor trailer is what most new drivers struggle with the most. Read this article for tips that will help you back much better.
Make sure your trainer knows that you want to practice backing as much as possible, especially at truck stops. Don’t look for easy parking while you are in training.
This is your chance to learn it the correct way so that its easier for you when you are on your own.
Something else: Ask your trainer is they can be out of the truck while you are backing (when possible). The trainer should be your spotter, helping you out and giving you advice.
Take your time and let your trainer know that you want to take your time so that you do it right and don’t hit anything.
5. Ask For A New Trainer
A fact of life is that not all personalities are going to mesh. Try not to take it personal and move on to a new trainer if you have to.
Most companies are really good about getting you a new trainer if you absolutely need one. Don’t be afraid to ask for one.
When you do ask just make sure that the reason you need a new trainer is because you feel like you are not learning as much as you should about driving.
Stay professional though. Contact your company and ask for a new trainer. Most companies will honor your request.
Don’t keep driving with a bad trainer because if you aren’t learning anything from then you are going to be in trouble when you get out on the road alone and don’t know what to do.
This is your career, take control of it now.
6. Learn Proper Headlight Etiquette
Take the time to also learn some proper road etiquette. Here are a few:
1. Flashing lights on and off when someone passes: NOT THE HIGH BEAMS!
2. Turn off your headlights when backing or sitting in the dock.
3. When you see someone backing and its dark you should turn off you headlights.
There are more, ask your trainer to tell you about them.
7. Shut Up
Sometimes you just need to shut up and listen to your trainer. Don’t be cocky confidence. Usually the trainer has several years experience (not always though) and is trying to teach you how to drive and be a truck driver.
They are teaching you about the lifestyle of a trucker too.
Forget about CDL school. CDL school doesn’t prepare you for life on the road. Nothing expect experience will
CDL school teaches you what you need to know in order to get your CDL while driving with a trainer teaches you how to be a truck driver.
The day to day ins and outs of driving a truck.
8. Put Up With It
Driving with another adult man (sometimes woman, rarely though) and living in close quarters is not easy.
If your trainer is the opposite of you there is going to be friction. For example, you might like your workspace (truck) to be nice and clean. Your trainer might not give a crap how it looks.
Guess what? You have to put up with it long enough to get the heck out of there. Sometimes in life you just have to suck it up and do it.
It wont last forever. Eventually you will get your own truck and be able to live in it the way you want to.
If it bothers you so much then you can offer to clean it up a little.
9. Don’t Get Offended
There are some things that your trainer is going to tell you over and over until so that you never forget it.
Don’t take it the wrong way, they are trying to teach you something.
Just say “okay” and get it done.
The trainer usually doesn’t think you are dumb, they are making sure that you are learning good habits.
10. Work Hard
Don’t be lazy. If you are lazy your trainer is going to get annoyed with you real quick.
Trainers often check in with dispatch and supervisors to let them know how you are doing.
Make sure they all know that you are serious about driving and in it to make money and be a professional.
Working hard is a good work habit. It often separates drivers that make more money from those that make less.
Truck driving is not a profession for the lazy.
11. You Will BOTH Have Bad Days
If you trainer is having a bad day for whatever reason give them some space.
Don’t pry. That person has no obligation to tell you anything about why they are having a bad day.
Who knows what it is? Maybe they miss home, maybe something happened back home, maybe they are sick. You don’t know.
If they don’t want to talk about leave them alone and hopefully tomorrow will be better.
12. Keep Your Stuff Clean
You are a guest in their truck. Remember that. Don’t be a slob. Respect their property and ask them where you can put your belongings.
Don’t let you garbage build up, don’t leave things on the floor, and keep your clothes separate from theirs.
Respect their space and don’t mess anything up. If you break something that belongs to them offer to replace it.
13. Clean The Windshield
Trainers love this! Don’t wait for them to ask you to clean the windshield, just do it.
Trust me, your trainer will appreciate this a lot.
14. Take Some Time Apart
You don’t have to be together all the time. Just like a good marriage you will both benefit from some alone time.
During your reset or breaks it is a good idea to do things apart. Go out on your own to a store or restaurant.
Get in a quick workout on your own. Put on your ear buds and watch a movie by yourself.
Just like any relationship you need time apart. If you get some time apart it will make it easier to be together when you have to.
15. Training Doesn’t Last Forever!
Training will end. I guarantee it!
I know it seems like it will last forever but it doesn’t.
Before you know it you will be assigned your very own truck and be on your own!
Stay safe driver.