You can earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) in as little as four weeks with accelerated truck driver training. After this, many students have offers for jobs lined up. However, this doesn’t mean that your training is entirely complete. Most motor carriers require some form of on-the-road training with one of their mentors before you can hit the road solo.
This time period can often cause some anxiety for students. You’ll be sharing a truck with someone else, and you’ll be learning on the job how to operate a truck and be successful on the road. Although this time can be stressful, there are many ways you can make the most of the experience and prepare yourself for the rest of your career.
Here are some tips for on-the-road training for new truckers:
1. Manage Your Expectations
Some students go into on-the-road training expecting a full overview of everything they need to know about trucking. The truth is more complex.
You will be learning a great deal during this time period. You’ll gain a greater understanding of how your specific company operates and will get experience behind the wheel. However, you should expect to keep learning once you go solo, and throughout your trucking career. There are many situations that can arise on the road, and you won’t likely be exposed to all of them during the training period.
2. Pack Lightly
You’ll be sharing a relatively small space with another trucker, and it’s important to be reasonable with how much you take with you. It’s best to stick to the essentials for now. Make sure you have clothes, personal care supplies, food, water, documents, and any medication. It’s okay to bring a few personal items to feel more at home, but you’ll want to wait until you go solo to fully personalize your truck and bring any extras.
>3. Work Effectively With Your Trainer
Each trainer will have a different approach to teaching, and it’s important to understand how to effectively communicate with yours no matter what their approach is. Let them know what helps you learn best and be sure to ask questions if you don’t understand something. You have a valuable resource during this time, and you should take advantage of the ability to get feedback and learn more.
That being said, keep in mind that your trainer is balancing teaching you with making deliveries on time. Keep your requests reasonable, and work with them based on their needs as well.
4. Review Each Day
To get the most out of your training period, take a moment to review your performance after each day on the road. Ask yourself what you did well and if anything went poorly. It’s normal to make mistakes as a new driver, and the best thing you can do is learn from them, so you continue to grow.
5. Remember That Training Is Temporary
If you don’t get along with your trainer, keep in mind that this training period is temporary. Try your best to communicate effectively and work through your differences. Of course, there is a difference between disagreeing with your trainer’s methods and feeling unsafe. If your trainer is abusive, let a supervisor know right away and work with them to find a resolution.
Start Your Trucking Career
If you’ve earned your CDL and are ready to find a trucking company that works as hard for you as you’ll work for it, consider DSW. We have regional and over-the-road (OTR) positions available. We offer competitive pay and benefits and combine big carrier freight with a small company feel.