We spoke with a few of our Maverick drivers (and former drivers) here recently who are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the ins and outs of driving OTR. For those of you just starting out as a Maverick, those first few months out on the road going solo can be pretty intimidating. It’s a huge responsibility to be navigating 80,000 pounds of machinery on the roads, highways, and between traffic.
And so begins our short three-part series on some of the most common rookie mistakes and pieces of advice to make those first few months a little easier.
Our first contribution comes from former driver, driver trainer and external recruiter TJ Hargis. TJ is now a fleet manager for Maverick and helps new drivers transition out of their trainer truck and into going solo OTR.
Thanks so much for your time, TJ!
TJ as a driver trainer (2012)
Time management is very important. This covers everything from leaving home too late, just in time to make a delivery, and all the way to taking too long on breaks.
As a new driver, there are many obstacles that we have not seen or experienced, so the best advice that I can give is to plan your day and all your trips with a cushion to allow for road types that you haven’t seen or become comfortable with yet. Then there are other things that might crop up — traffic, time zone differences, even medical issues like when you don’t feel well. These things happen, but if we don’t allow time in our trip planning for them it could result in not loading/unloading for an additional day (which affects our pay check!).
Although it’s tough being away from our families, sometimes it’s actually better to leave a few hours early just to make sure our time is used correctly and we prepare for the obstacles that are in our everyday travels. Make sure to communicate any issues or concerns about your load or even the times and always pay attention to your H.O.S. Call your fleet manager with these questions and ask for their opinion. Remember, we’ve all been in this industry, most of us as drivers, long enough that we can help you find the right plans and path of execution.
Slow down and take your time to ensure that you do your job to the best of your ability and that you do it safely; speed with loading/unloading and trip planning will only get better in time. But find a system that works for you and stick with it. Do everything the same way every time and you create a pattern, a system. Then you can make movements without thinking of them because it becomes second nature. This is when your speed improves. Find a place for all your equipment or instruments that you use on a daily basis and return them to the same place after each use. Being organized is crucial in becoming more efficient.
Don’t ever rely solely on GPS. Always double check your atlas with all routes and restrictions, also use your local directions to get to your shippers and consignees. These are put in by our drivers that have been there before you. You obtain these by sending in Macro 1. Read these directions carefully and write them down. So here is the key to these directions, find out where you will tie in with them because the driver that entered them may have been traveling north (which should be stated) and you may be traveling south, so that means you need to compensate for that. If you have a smart phone, Google Maps works great for seeing your roads on satellite view.
And please, ALWAYS REMEMBER: Communication is the absolute key!