A Truckers Freedom: Blessing or Curse?

The saying: “With freedom comes responsibility” is quite popular. We all understand t when it applies to our lives. It also applies to truckers, but how? Of all the topics we cover in Trucking Truth, the freedom of truckers can go either way. The freedom in trucking is often seen as beneficial. It lures most people into the career, while conventional jobs require adherence to set rules. So most people are not experienced in managing unlimited freedom of trucking. Freedom sounds like a good thing, but believe me, adjusting to it could be very challenging. Once a trainee is cut loose from their trainer’s truck, they are launched into the trucking world to roam free through the vast highways of our country. As an adult, I worked most of my life in technology consulting projects. I had bosses who fixed my time, payments, and planned schedules. I never worried about having freedom at work. Although I was happy to leave that box, I enjoy my new found freedom. In trucking, most drivers are given schedules. They have very little direct accountability. Don’t underestimate how daunting freedom can be on a new trucker. Here is how I handled being a novice trucker.

Time Management Can be Challenging

In my first couple of months as a trucker, I sucked at time management. My time went by without me realizing it.  I needed to improve my planning and time management. I realized that freedom had a price. I recognized the problem, and for two weeks, I began to document the things that cost time. Like getting lost, wrong turning, missed locations, multiple PTA’s during the day, and many more. It was a humbling review that amounted to gobs of time lost.

Have a Proper Mindset

I worked towards having an accountable mindset and improving on problems that I had. Although there was a bigger picture, I took the process step by step. My first step was improving on my trip planning. Here are a few steps of my adjustments:

  • Don’t Rely on your GPS– I mostly use the look-ahead feature with written instructions on my GPS. Navigo doesn’t serve much purpose. The written instructions always have a step by step solution. The GPS wasn’t always right. Sometimes, the accuracy degraded and I could miss a turn. It got better when I started taking notes. It helped with my planning and when the GPS wouldn’t help, I use my notes.
  • Have a Clear Plan– Believe me, you don’t want surprises, have a plan for every delivery& backhaul. You never know what to expect, good thing we have the Google map. It prepares us for the unexpected. When it came to parking, I always focused on the store’s parking lot(entry & exit). I could see the view through my map. It saved me a ton because I always knew what was ahead. I always documented troublesome stores like Elmsford NY, Riverside NJ, to name a few. There were a lot of things I had to do when I deliver. Like, make calls, sign paperwork, present invoice, and sometimes the stores don’t respond in time. Frustrating! My solution; I ring the bell, wait a minute, ring again, and wait another minute. If no response, I call the manager, and I am allowed in almost immediately. It saved me 30-45 minutes for each dispatched load.
  • Build Strong Relationships– As I understood the operation better, I began to request pre-plan trips. Having a pre-plan set coming off a 34-hour reset helps in starting a new week. I built a database store close to my interstate location to reduce travel time. Your responsibility goes a long way in improving your approach towards freedom in trucking. Trip planning is essential preparation, and preparedness is key!
  • Eliminate Surprises– It’s good to have a basic understanding of where you are going and what to expect along the line at the docks. I advise you to know your turns, major highway entries, and exits and put them on a sticky note for easy reference. Always use the look-ahead feature on your GPS and compare it to Truckers Road Atlas.
  • Communication is Key– Always make use of the Qualcomm to inform dispatch of your progress and delay you can always refer to for clarity in the future. Keep communication proactive. Review your performance and always ask for help when needed. If you think you need help ask for it. You probably do.

I hope to read how others adjusted to their freedom. Stay safe, Safe travels!