Once you’ve finished commercial driver’s license (CDL) school and completed your on-the-road training, you’re ready to hit the road as a solo trucker. The first year as a rookie driver is often intimidating. You’ll be out for the first time without a trainer immediately available for any questions, and there are many new situations you’ll be facing. At the same time, it’s often exciting to finally have your own truck and be able to manage your own time on the open road. Staying calm and prioritizing safety can help you make the most of your first year as a rookie trucker.
Here are some tips for new drivers to help calm your nerves:
1. Slow Down
It’s important to meet deadlines for deliveries, and you should be planning your time effectively to do this. At the same time, being overly focused on getting everything done as quickly as possible is not the best strategy. For one thing, it compromises your safety. If you’re rushing, you’re more likely to make mistakes on the road. In addition, you’re more likely to get overwhelmed, which further increases your risk of causing an accident since your mind isn’t fully focused on driving.
Make a conscious effort to slow down. If you notice that you are getting stressed and rushing, take a few deep breaths. Remember that no matter how urgent it feels to back into the loading dock quickly or get through the mountain roads as soon as possible, your safety is more important than anything else. Take your time and make sure you’re doing things right rather than just doing them fast.
2. Find Relaxation Strategies That Work For You
Everyone has different strategies that can help them relax and minimize stress. Experiment to find the options that work best for you. Try to come up with a mix of strategies that you can use in the moment (such as taking a deep breath) and ways to unwind when you’re not behind the wheel (like mindfulness meditation or a favorite hobby). This can help you feel calmer in heated moments and reduce your overall stress level over time.
3. Review Your Progress
After every day on the road, take a moment to reflect. What did you do well? What could you have done better? Did you make any mistakes, and how could you avoid making the same ones in the future? This can help you shift your perspective from feeling overwhelmed at driving solo as a new driver into looking at how you can improve and grow.
4. Prioritize Your Health
Your health is strongly connected to your ability to manage stress. If you aren’t taking care of your health, you’re more likely to feel anxious. Be sure to prioritize getting enough sleep each night, eating healthy foods, and drinking enough water. Although this may not seem related to staying calm on the road, you’ll be surprised to notice how much of a difference it can make.
5. Get Help If You Need It
Although you won’t have a trainer in your passenger seat anymore, this doesn’t mean you don’t have any resources. There are many ways you can ask for help if you run into problems on the road. Look into company-specific resources, such as roadside assistance options or mentors you can turn to with questions. You can also talk to other truckers online and get support and advice – just be sure to take anything with a grain of salt.
Work With A Supportive Trucking Company
DSW is hiring for over-the-road (OTR) and regional positions. We work with experienced drivers and rookies and strive to work as hard for you as you work for us.