New Trucker Advice: 13 Things Your Trainer Never Taught You

Having a good trainer with you when you start your first truck driving job is absolutely vital to your success and happiness. Unfortunately though the reality of it is a lot of times trainers are there to collect money and do little to actually train you.

A good trainer is a mentor that will/can show you the ins and outs of being a truck driver. Whether or not you get a trainer that is just there to collect the money or someone that genuinely cares about your success as a truck driver is luck.

If you do get someone that isn’t doing much to help you I do suggest you talk to the company about it so that you can get a different trainer.

This is your career and you want to have the best training experiences as possible.

Wait a minute, you passed CDL school already? Good for you, a lot of people have. CDL school does enough to get you your CDL. They help you do what you need to do in order to pass tests so that you can legally drive a commercial vehicle.

CDL school doesn’t do anything to prepare you for the day to day grind of driving a truck.

Your trainer is the person that is going to teach/show you what it means to be a truck driver, hopefully you get a good one that is dedicated to their profession and helping you become a better driver.

Having the best tools, greatest GPS, and right mindset are all important for a truck driver. However, the most important thing that you are lacking fresh out of CDL school is experience.

Experience is what you need to get with your trainer so that you know how to deal with the day to day ins and outs of being a truck driver.

In this article I’m going to tell you the 13 things that your trainer never taught you but should have.

Message to trainers: Before you let a noob on his own make sure you have covered everything on this list. Do your job and do it well.

1. Trip Pre Plan

Do you have enough hours to get the load delivered on time? Make sure you know the HOS rules and regulations so that you don’t get stuck somewhere you don’t want to be because your hours have run out.

Don’t forget to consider your terrain and load, heavy loads and hills will slow you down. Also, plan for the weather to possibly slow you down, especially snow and rain.

2. Planning Your Route

When planning your route you have to figure out where you are going to park and get fuel. Those are your two most important things to check on before heading out. Take the time to figure out where you are going to take your breaks so that you aren’t wasting time looking for someplace last minute.

Use an atlas, Google maps, a quality GPS like this one, and some of these trucker apps to help you out with creating your best route.

3. Keep The 5th Wheel Lubed

Get some grease and get it on the skid plate. While you are back there take the time to spray the 5th wheel latch with some WD40 so that it’s working smoothly. This is such basic knowledge that often becomes overlooked by trainers.

4. Get Some Extra Liquids

There are a ton of tools that truckers need to have with them, here is my comprehensive list. Along with tools you need to have extra fluids too.

Get some motor oil, a lot of washer fluid, coolant, some power steering fluid, and even some extra wiper blades. Get yourself a plastic crate to put them in and set in front of your passenger seat. Being out there without these things is risky, better to be prepared for the unexpected.

5. Get A Small Clipboard

Having access to paper on a clipboard is a life saver. Hang it or velcro it to your dash so that you have easy access to it. Use it to write down routes, street names, a grocery list, phone numbers, and anything else you need to. Trust me, a clipboard with a piece of paper is such a simple way to keep things in order.

6. While Stopped

Whenever you stop to eat, fuel, shower, or use the rest room, make sure to walk around the truck when you return to it.

Be on the lookout for loose mud flaps, looking for drips or leaks, checking that no one pulled your 5th wheel lever, and general condition of the truck. Think of it as a mini pretrip. Keep your truck in
good working condition because you never know when you will be inspected.

7. Clean The Truck For The Next Guy

If you are sharing a truck with other drivers do be a Richard by handing over a filthy truck, especially the interior. Check out this article for must see ideas to help keep you truck interior clean. Don’t be a slob, it decreases morale and pisses off other drivers.

8. Get The Right Accessories

The right accessories include most things on this comprehensive list here. If you can’t afford a lot of accessories at least decide which ones you need right away and then slowly get more and more.

There are a few electronic tools you should have with you as well. Among them is a good dash cam that is less than $100.00, a Garmin GPS, and a BlueParrot Headset. These electronics are not as expensive as you would expect, each can be had for less than $100.00 except for the GPS.

Having the right accessories for trucking will make your life a lot easier.

9. Eat The Right Foods

It’s easy to get fat while trucking. You will spend a lot of time sitting and not burning a lot of calories. Don’t let yourself get fat. Adjust how much you eat. Honestly, you just have to be more mindful of what you eat and how much you eat. The easiest way to control your weight, and health, is to simply eat less.

The foods that you are eating shouldn’t be fast food or food from a truck stop. That stuff is loaded with calories and is way overpriced. Stay away from fast food and instead get yourself a cooler (like this one) or fill up your refrigerator (if you have one) with healthy, real foods. These are some foods that I have found work really well at filling me up but are not filled with artificial junk and unnecessary calories.

Fruits And Vegetables: The best option is to get fresh fruit and vegetables when possible. Your second best option is to get canned fruits and vegetables. Either way you are getting a vital source of vitamins and minerals.

Protein: I like tuna, peanut butter (organic if possible), anything with kidney beans, and nuts of any kind. Nuts are great because you don’t have to eat a lot of them to feel full.

Snacks: Cheese that is not processed, chips that are baked or veggie chips, granola, and once again nuts of any kind.

Water: Drink water. Get used to drinking water in place of soft drinks and juices with a lot of sugar in them.

Others: I’m not saying you have to completely avoid everything that is not healthy. I can’t do that either. I like my pizza once in a while, some ice cream, and a good coffee in the morning. You owe it to yourself to have fun too if you are eating healthy most of the time.

10. Driving In The Wind

Wind is weather just like snow, rain, and ice. Understand that driving in the wind can be dangerous but there are precautions you can take to lower your risk of having a problem.

New drivers often feel that there is no way that their tractor can flip because it is loaded. They are wrong. Do yourself a favor and read all of these tips for driving in windy conditions before it is too late.

11. Check Tandem Slide

If equipped with tandem trailer tandem slide you need to verify all lock pins are fully engaged. Do this as part of your pretrip, during your trip, post trip inspection, and anytime your exit your truck truck for any reason.

12. Don’t Stow The Crank

When dropping a trailer that is loaded please don’t stow the crank handle. Instead, let it hang free. If you stow the crank handle the wight can jam the handle in the stow bracket making it really difficult for the next guy to crank it.

13.When Your Butt Hurts

What do you do if you get a truck with a seat that has no support and makes your butt sweat? There is no way that your trainer will prepare you for this but you have to do something. Asking your company to pay for a new seat that costs nearly $1,000 is usually not an option for new drivers. The company will laugh in your face.

I wrote about 14 things you can do do make your butt more comfortable (and dry) here. Your options range from wooden beads to gel seat cushions to cooling and heating
seat cushions.

You have to do something about it, don’t drive in agony because you are too cheap to spend $20.00 to $50.00 on something to make your butt feel much better.