6 Important Things To Know If You Are A Truck Driver

When it comes to driving trucks, there are a lot of rules and regulations to be aware of. Depending on the whereabouts, there can be different laws in place. In addition to federal laws, there are also state and local laws that may apply. Drivers must be familiar with laws such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, the Commercial Driver License regulations, and the rules of the road in the areas they will be driving. It is important for truck drivers to stay up to date with the latest regulations.

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Understand the Hours of Service rules

One of the most important regulations for truck drivers is to understand and adhere to Hours of Service (HOS) rules. HOS rules are federal regulations promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that limit how many hours a day, per week, and overall that a truck driver may operate his/her vehicle. Different rules apply to those operating a commercial motor vehicle across state lines and within the same state, but all drivers must be in compliance with these regulations, as a violation of HOS is punishable by fine or imprisonment.

Under HOS, truck drivers can generally drive up to 11 hours per day in an eight-day period (which may be extended to 14 hours if they stopped every eight consecutive hours) as long as they are off-duty for 10 consecutive hours between shifts. Additionally, truck drivers are limited to driving no more than 60 total hours in seven days, or 70 total in eight days, before taking a 34-hour reset period that must include two periods from 1 a.m. – 5 a.m. Additionally, specific provisions apply for certain holidays, such as Christmas Day and time change when states recognize daylight savings. Furthermore, Federal regulations also place restrictions on how often you can take breaks throughout your shift so it is important you familiarize yourself with the different rules governing these topics prior to starting your journey.

Learn the rules for inspections and maintenance

As a truck driver, you have a legal and ethical obligation to keep your vehicle in good working condition. You must adhere to state laws and regulations regarding inspections and maintenance. Additionally, all trucks must be inspected at least once a year. Inspections are used to check for any mechanical problems that could put you or other drivers on the road in danger.

It is important for all truck drivers to understand the regulations concerning the inspection and maintenance of both the vehicle itself and any payloads it carries. Failure to adhere to the regulations can result in legal penalties as well as put public safety at risk. Learn more about fleet maintenance from here.

During inspections, truck drivers should take special care to check for tire pressure, oil levels, fluid leaks, brakes and brakes’ wear-and-tear, steering components’ condition, and smoke coming from exhaust systems among other things. To ensure safety on the roads, truck drivers should make sure all such issues are properly taken care of before getting behind the wheel again.

In addition to these annual checks or inspections, many states require regular service maintenance regarding air filters, oil changes and brake parts, etcetera too. Finding out which services need attention helps maintain maximum performance levels of your vehicle while also increasing its longevity and aiding with preventive measures against accidents or lethal breakdowns on roads while adhering to laws set by state governments linked with safety concerns on roads overall – helping keep everyone safe out there!

Understand the rules for loading and unloading

When loading and unloading a shipment, truck drivers need to understand the rules and regulations that are in place. Properly loaded cargo must be securely fastened and evenly balanced. If a driver is found to be carrying cargo that is overloaded or improperly restrained, they may face fines or other consequences. Unloading must be done carefully as well – Failing to properly secure the load before unloading can cause cargo to fall off the truck safely.

In addition, drivers also need to be aware of any hazardous materials they are hauling. Certain substances tend to cause more complications when it comes to loading and unloading, meaning increased safety measures must be taken at all times. For example, hazardous materials will require special packaging methods as well as placards indicating what the material is and how it should be handled while in transit.

Security measures should always be applied when transporting such items, including monitoring their whereabouts at all times during transport. Finally, drivers need to understand their responsibility for keeping documents associated with each shipment current – Failure to do so could result in costly fines or other penalties.

Safety

If you are a truck driver, safety should be your top priority. It is essential that you take every safety precaution necessary while driving. This means adhering to speed limits, ensuring your truck is properly maintained, getting enough rest between trips, and avoiding distractions while driving. It is also important to be familiar with the laws and regulations of truckers. Let’s discuss the key elements of truck driving safety.

Learn how to safely drive a truck

If you’re a truck driver, safety should be your top priority. Learning and practicing safety techniques for driving can help you prevent accidents and arrive at your destination safely. Here are 6 things to consider when driving a truck:

  1. Make sure you have all the necessary documents before hitting the road. Check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles or DMV to confirm that you have the necessary driver’s license, registration, and insurance needed to drive a truck.
  2. Check that all the vehicle components are in proper working order before starting your route and keep track of hours-of-service regulations regarding driving time limits. Rest regularly, take time off from the road if needed, and never engage in distracted driving activities such as texting or talking on the phone while on duty.
  3. Know how to securely load cargo onto your truck—chaining down cargo and other techniques for properly setting up loads can help reduce your risk of an accident due to shifting cargo weight during transit. Remember that overloading your vehicle can also cause tire blowouts or other mechanical problems, impacting safety while driving a large vehicle like a truck.
  4. Pay attention to traffic rules – stop at red lights, obey speed limits, use turn signals when changing lanes – obeying these simple rules requires concentration which will help make sure everyone stays safe on the roadways. Familiarize yourself with state laws regulating commercial vehicles as well — specialized speed limits may apply depending on where you are traveling through!
  5. Respect other drivers on the highway – give larger vehicles like semi-trucks more space when passing because of their longer stopping distances, in addition to being generally unable to accelerate as quickly as smaller cars. Be aware of blind spots around commercial vehicles which can block visibility — if you cannot see a semi-truck driver in his mirrors, do not assume he can see yours!
  6. Monitor weather conditions – dangerous winter weather, especially ice and snow invites special risks for truck drivers so use caution when venturing out and assess conditions often along the route. Consider outfitting trucks with snow chains, and using winter tires or other equipment appropriate for winter climates if local laws require better grip traction from tires in wintry weather. Also, avoid traveling during extreme heat conditions since they can contribute to mechanical breakdowns as well!

Understand the importance of defensive driving

For anyone operating a vehicle, defensive driving is always an important skill to have. In order to drive defensively, you need to be able to anticipate and avoid dangers before they occur. As a truck driver, understanding the importance of defensive driving and learning the correct techniques is absolutely essential.

For truck drivers, in particular, one key aspect of defensive driving is knowing how other drivers may react when faced with large trucks on the road. Defensive driving requires that you recognize and accept that not all drivers are currently paying attention or are fully aware of their surroundings at all times. Be prepared for other drivers on the road who might not give enough space around your truck or who might suddenly change lanes in front of you without signaling. Being able to adjust your speed and respond quickly can help mitigate these issues before an accident occurs.

Also, maintain awareness regarding hazardous weather conditions such as snow, sleet and heavy rain, which can lessen traction and increase reaction time. If driving in such weather, you should reduce your speed as much as possible so that any sudden maneuvers will not result in overcorrecting or losing control of your rig due to skidding or hydroplaning.

Finally, understand what ‘road fatigue’ means and take proactive steps by getting at least 7-8 hours rest prior to taking any long trips; increasing rest stops when possible; carrying regular snacks like fruits; listening to music; talking on the phone, among others which can help keep you alert while traveling long distances safely instead of trying various dangerous techniques like texting while driving so that it would help achieve good results out of every mile!

Learn how to inspect the truck before and after each trip

When you get behind the wheel of a truck, your safety depends on how well you maintain it. Before and after each trip, you should take some time to thoroughly inspect the truck for any hazardous fluid or oil leaks, defective tires, loose or cracked lugs, broken windshields, bulging brakes drums and/or linings, cracks and/or kinks in airbrake lines, insecurely mounted cab parts (mirrors), faulty steering components (U-joints), any unusual noises coming from the engine or drive train areas, etc. It is important to both visually and audibly check the truck for any potential defects that could cause problems while on the road. Make sure to have a qualified technician take care of all necessary repairs as soon as possible.

It is also important to inspect other components, such as safety belts and equipment like fire extinguishers, as well as supplementary protection devices like trailer brakes in good working order. In case of any defect that affects your on-road performance or directly affects your safety, such as worn tires, for instance – you should replace them immediately before leaving for another trip. Remember that only by performing these inspections can you ensure a safe road travel experience for yourself and other drivers around you.

Financials

If you are a truck driver, there are key financial considerations to keep in mind. These can help you maximize your income and make sure that you are setting yourself up for long-term success. From budgeting to saving for retirement, knowing how to manage your finances as a truck driver is essential. Let’s explore some of the financial aspects of being a truck driver.

Understand how to calculate your income and expenses

Truck drivers need to know the basics of how to calculate their income and expenses. This involves knowing how to track your miles and record all of your earnings, as well as understanding the tax deductions available to you.

For truck drivers, it’s important to accurately keep track of miles driven and total cash received in order to calculate your annual income and taxable income. You must also accurately calculate all related operating costs, such as fuel, maintenance, insurance, and supplies, in order to get a true measure of profitability. When it comes time to file taxes, having accurate records will make it easier for you to understand which expenses are tax deductible.

It is important for truck drivers to understand that the IRS requires a specific procedure when calculating Gross Income (GI) versus net income. GI is calculated by adding up all payments for services rendered, such as tolls, charges for picking up or dropping off freight at certain locations, safety bonuses, detention pay, or any other reimbursement due from customers. Net income is calculated by subtracting operating costs such as fuel, repairs, and maintenance from GI. To figure out the taxable income, you will also need to deduct other business-related expenses, such as taxes paid on social security benefits and costs associated with registering or licensing vehicles used in business activities. It is important that you keep accurate records of these expenses, as they can be used during tax season when filing deductions with the IRS.

By understanding how to calculate your monthly revenues and expenses properly you can gain insight into what makes your business successful or where there are areas of improvement that could increase your profits! Accurate bookkeeping practices can help eliminate errors when tax season rolls around, which will make filing easier!

Learn how to manage your finances

Truck drivers can be successful and independent entrepreneurs. But along with its rewards come a few important rules. Financial management is key to keeping your business running smoothly and ensuring that you are able to make a decent living. Here are some of the most important things truck drivers need to know when it comes to managing their finances.

  1. Monitor your expenses – Keep track of all the expenses related to running your business, including licenses, permits, fuel costs, repairs and maintenance, insurance costs and taxes. Monitoring these will help you determine how much profit you’re actually making from each job or load you take on.
  2. Pay yourself first – Put aside a portion of every paycheck you receive for savings before any other expenses are paid out. A good rule of thumb is to save 10-15%, depending on your income level. This will build up an emergency fund that can be tapped should something unexpected come up, such as medical bills or vehicle repairs and maintenance costs that cannot be covered with insurance or other forms of income protection.
  3. Set achievable emergency funds goals – When setting emergency funds goals, start small, then gradually increase them over time as your finances allow for it; this will help motivate you and make sure that you do not get discouraged when trying to save up more money than what’s realistically achievable in a given period of time.
  4. Invest wisely – When investing wisely as a truck driver, it is important that you diversify your investments across multiple vehicles such as stocks, bonds mutual funds, real estate government retirement accounts (401k IRAs etc) so that if one area does not do well for whatever reason at least one other area should pay off.
  5. Pay off debt – As tempting as it may seem when taking on debt in order to pay off large expenses such as car payments or home repairs, it is important that these debts are eliminated through regular payments within the terms agreed upon by both parties.
  6. Avoid impulse buys – Impulse buys can quickly add up if they occur regularly throughout the month. While they may only seem like small amounts at the time, they add up quickly over time and can easily put in overspending budget, which should be avoided at all cost

Understand how to maximize your income

As a truck driver, it’s essential to understand how to maximize your income. Developing a good understanding of how finances work as a truck driver will help keep you in the best financial position you can be in and will help you reach your goals for saving for retirement and other investments. Here are 6 tips on how to optimize your financials as a truck driver:

  1. Calculate Your Earnings: Keep track of how much money you make each week, including your wages and bonuses, so that you know exactly what’s coming into your pocket each week. This way, you can make sure that you’re able to pay for necessities like fuel, food, rest stops, and more.
  2. Create A Budget: By understanding monthly income and expenses, it is possible to determine what is necessary when budgeting. Track future expenses by estimating predictable monthly costs such as fuel, insurance/healthcare packages, staying in motels/hotels while on the road, and more. Setting realistic budget limits ahead of time allows a driver to plan ahead for unexpected or emergency situations that arise while on the road—you don’t want any surprise expenses left unmanaged!
  3. Take Advantage of Tax Breaks: Working as an independent contractor requires extra paperwork when filing taxes but also opens up additional tax write-offs especially designed for independent contractors, such as auto mileage deductions along with other potential deductions depending on state taxes due applied from the state of residence vocationally within the same year.

Equipment

When it comes to being a truck driver, having the right equipment and tools for the job is essential. This includes items like truck and trailer inspection equipment, a GPS system, and a good set of tools for making repairs. It’s also important to have a variety of supplies, such as jumper cables, extra oil, and a spare tire, to be prepared for any eventuality. Let’s look at the equipment you should have in your possession when you’re out on the road.

Learn how to use the truck’s navigation system

As a truck driver, you need to know how to properly use GPS navigation and directional systems to get you safely to your destination. Knowing how to access and use these systems is key to successful navigation. When loading up the GPS system, be sure that you have all the necessary information, such as the starting address, destination address, and route type (shortest or fastest). Also, be sure that any applicable road closures or detours have been properly entered into the system so that you are better prepared when it’s time to hit the road.

Learning how to properly use a truck’s navigation system can save time and money for both you and your company. Being savvy about GPS navigation will also help improve safety on long-haul trips by keeping drivers aware of potential obstacles along their routes. Furthermore, understanding how traffic works in relation to the GPS navigation system can ensure that drivers are taking smarter routes in order to avoid heavy congestion and reduce fuel costs.

Having quick access to information like truck stop locations, routing restrictions/regulations, weather conditions/forecasts, points of interest/attractions (such as restaurants or rest stops), etc., is also beneficial for professional truck drivers because it allows them to make more informed decisions while on the road. Good knowledge of technology-based navigational equipment can make any car or truck driver’s journey smoother and more efficient.

Understand the importance of proper maintenance

Truck drivers must understand the importance of proper maintenance to ensure the safe and reliable operations of their vehicles. Primary care and preventive measures must be taken to avoid breakdowns and other costly maintenance issues. The most important steps are as follows:

  • Ensure that all fluid levels are at the recommended levels and topped off as necessary. Regular oil changes help keep the engine running smoothly, but it is also important to keep an eye on the radiator, steering, transmission, brake, power steering, and air conditioner fluids.
  • Check tire pressure regularly and perform a tread check for wear and tear on a routine basis. Worn tires can cause excessive heat buildup leading to possible brake or tire failure.
  • Perform regular inspections of lights, belts, hoses, and wiring harnesses. Faulty wiring can cause electrical failure which may lead to more serious problems such as engine failure or fuel system malfunction. Keep batteries charged properly at all times while inspecting wiring connections, often for signs of corrosion or short-circuiting problems.
  • Perform regular engine tune-ups according to the manufacturer’s specifications using only approved service centers for such needs. This helps detect any potential problems in time before they can become critical in nature and also increase fuel economy over time due to improved combustion efficiency.
  • Check brakes routinely with a visual inspection in addition to operating tests, checking that they are operating smoothly without any jerky motion when applied. Brake pads should be replaced when there is less than 1/8th inch remaining of thickness, making sure that replacement parts are original equipment models specified by the manufacturer.
  • Regularly inspect steering components like tie rods, rack mounts, bushings, etc looking out for play, leakages in seals, or contaminants like dirt or grease etc; that can overly increase friction required for turning purposes resulting in loss of grip over steering as well as poor fuel efficiency

Learn how to troubleshoot common mechanical issues

Regardless of the type of truck you’ll be driving; it’s important to know how to troubleshoot common mechanical issues in order to avoid costly repairs or other problems. To stay safe on the road and ensure on-time delivery, drivers should be familiar with the various parts and functions of their vehicles and have methods of diagnosing any potential issues that arise.

It’s also important to understand the basics of vehicle maintenance, such as regular inspections and preventive care. Having a good working knowledge of basic safety checks and some basic mechanical skills will allow drivers to address minor problems before they become major ones. Knowing when it’s time to replace important parts like suspension airbags, brake linings, water pumps, oil filters, and more can save money and keep vehicles running properly for longer periods of time.

Additionally, recognizing warning signs early can help prevent roadside breakdowns or dangerous accidents. This includes understanding how to read gauges on the dash panel for oil pressure levels and engine temperature as well as checking hoses, gearboxes, power steering reservoirs, spark plugs, and more for discrepancies that could indicate a larger problem down the line. Finally—if all else fails—drivers should know when it’s time to call a professional mechanic or tow truck operator in order to get back on schedule quickly.

Routes

One of the most important factors in becoming a successful truck driver is choosing the right route. Knowing the fastest route and the one that is safest is key to ensuring the best delivery times and the highest level of safety. It is also important to stay up-to-date on route changes, as this can drastically change delivery times, fuel costs, and other factors. Let’s look at routes and what to consider when choosing one.

Research the best routes for your trips

Before setting off on any long-distance trip, it pays to do some research into potential routes to ensure that you have the latest road conditions, traffic data, and other information. Useful sources for this kind of data include published travel guides and maps, road condition reports from state departments of transportation, and trucking websites with route planners and other tools.

Stopping along the way is recommended; in the United States alone there are over 130 safety rest areas providing facilities such as washrooms, water fountains, and picnic tables. Aiming to drive no more than 10 hours per day between rests can help reduce fatigue-related errors.

There are numerous considerations when selecting a route, including:

  • Total distance: Regional roads can often be less crowded than highways and may be preferable for heavily loaded rigs with lower top speeds; however, they may add significant distance to a trip.
  • Toll roads: Generally, toll roads provide faster passage than regular routes; however, be aware that these may not be suitable if you have a large vehicle or trailer due to height restrictions on certain bridges or tunnels.
  • Weather updates: Check forecasts before leaving as adverse weather may not only lead to delays but also create treacherous driving conditions. Additionally, check out seasonal events such as festivals which could increase traffic congestion in certain areas at certain times of the year.
  • Permit requirements: It is important to check whether special permits are required for your rig before embarking on your journey, as failure to produce the relevant paperwork can result in hefty fines or worse! Which should be avoided at all costs!

Learn how to use a truck routing app

In today’s global economy, truck drivers need more than just the right vehicle and goods to make a successful delivery. They also need an efficient routing strategy that can get them from point A to point B as cost-effectively and quickly as possible.

For professional truckers, using a routing app can be essential for finding the best route and obtaining turn-by-turn directions in order to avoid traffic congestion or other delays. These handy programs come with different features that allow you to plan multiple routes with rest stops in mind along with hauling restrictions based on your vehicle’s size, length, and weight restrictions.

Here are 6 important things to keep in mind when using a truck routing app:

  1. Update your GPS regularly; these apps rely on detailed maps, which may require recurring updates for accuracy.
  2. Check specific regulations for the states you drive through; most states have their own highway restrictions that can vary from state to state—make sure your routes are compliant!
  3. Look out for cycle breaks or other seasonal road closures; this is especially important when driving along mountainous terrain or forest roads, areas where snowstorms or landslides may require temporary closures of certain routes during certain times of the year.
  4. Plan rest stops ahead of time; apps like PC*Milerand GTS4Truckers provide information about nearby restaurants, gas stations, and places of interest, so you won’t have any unpleasant surprises during your trip!
  5. Use freight loads websites such as Admiral Merchants Motor Freight Inc., TruckStopLoads (TSL), and HaulMatchfor access to marketplace loads requiring pickup or delivery via trucks instead of vans; these websites let brokers list available loads that need to be transported by tractor-trailers which allow truckers to find profitable hauls in seconds!
  6. Finally, remember that road conditions can change overnight, so always check frequently if conditions will affect your planned route’s status before setting up shop at the rest stop!
    Understand the importance of fuel efficiency

It’s important for truck drivers to understand the fundamental principles of fuel efficiency. Implemented correctly, these simple techniques can help you get the most out of each gallon of fuel, ultimately resulting in better fuel economy and saving you money.

To begin with, it’s important to select a properly sized engine for the load and terrain that you’ll be carrying. Low revolutions per minute (rpm) are associated with a greater level of efficiency; larger displacement engines used on flat lands can describe actually being less efficient than lesser displacements up hills. Once you have your engine size sorted out, optimize your performance by paying attention to how you are driving. Accelerate cautiously from stops and drive at more consistent speeds – steering away from sudden accelerations or hard braking.

In addition, frequent air filter changes can help achieve higher fuel economy as built-up dirt on filter surfaces reduce airflow and clog the system over time. It is also recommended that oil levels are kept at their optimum level since changes in oil viscosity make an engine work harder as it ages, thus resulting in lower gas mileage. Finally, other parts, such as spark plugs, should be carefully monitored too, since they tend to degrade quickly when used with diesel fuels and require replacement much earlier than gasoline-based cars or trucks. So if you follow these main principles of fuel efficiency, you should find that both your wallet and dependability benefit greatly!

Resources

As a truck driver, it’s important to have the right resources to make the job easier. There are various tools and websites available to help truck drivers identify the best routes, find motels, and more. In this section, we’ll cover 6 of the most important resources that all truck drivers should take advantage of. These resources will not only help you save time by avoiding traffic jams and road closures, but they also provide useful safety tips and other helpful information.

Join a trucking association

Trucking associations are important for staying up-to-date on laws and regulations, gaining access to special discounts, and having a reliable support system. Joining an association is also a great way to network with other truckers and stay informed on the latest industry news.

The most well-known association for truckers is the American Trucking Association (ATA). The ATA is comprised of more than 200 state trucking associations and private carriers. The benefits of becoming an ATA member include access to government resources, policy implementation programs, discounts on products, and legislative updates. Other important associations include the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), the National Association of Small Truckers (NAST), and The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT). Each one offers different benefits that can be helpful depending on your individual circumstances. Ultimately, joining a trucking association can provide you with invaluable resources that will help you excel in your career as a truck driver.

Utilize trucker-friendly apps

Truckers with smartphones can use a variety of specialty apps to make their jobs easier. Though the caliber and availability of an app may vary by region, a few points of consideration for any driver includes:

  • Navigation apps that have been optimized for trucks, drafting routes, and providing information like rest stops or weigh stations along the way.
  • Fuel price comparison apps that allow drivers to compare prices along their route.
  • Apps eliminating the need for paper logs, tracking hours of service, as well as other important details from the road automatically.
  • Fleet management apps or software suites so fleet managers can monitor their drivers’ performance and drive time in real time.
  • Driver health tracking programs that allow truckers to track meals eaten versus standard break periods in addition to sleep intervals.

Learning opportunities – often in the form of podcasts – specifically featuring topics relevant to over-the-road trucking operations, including everything from destination routing tips to legal considerations on the road.

Take advantage of online resources

One of the most valuable tools for truck drivers is the internet. There are many online resources that you can use to stay connected, informed, and safe on long hauls. Some of these resources include trucker forums, industry news websites, safety blog posts, and GPS routing software. Using these resources will ensure that you stay up-to-date with relevant information on legislation and industry trends, so you can make smart decisions while on the road. Additionally, many of these resources offer free or discounted services exclusively for commercial drivers. Taking advantage of these offerings can make your job easier and more efficient while keeping your wallet happy.

Jasper has been an enthusiast of the automotive and IT industries since the age of 16. He independently writes on the auto industry's recent happenings.