Best Practices When New

How to know what to do if you are a new driver. What things mean on the road, and what other drivers are trying to tell you on the road if you don’t have a way to communicate. All these things are important.

What should I do if I am new?

TAKE YOUR TIME!! That is the biggest advice I can give you. Know what you are doing and why you are doing it. Know your truck and what it is capable of. Being able to navigate that vehicle around is seriously important. So let’s talk about what you should and shouldn’t do as a newbie.

Should and Should not: That is the question.

While in school they probably gave you the 10-second rule for looking ahead of you while driving. This is valuable and warranted considering it takes us 3 football field lengths to stop. I however use the 12-second rule. I make sure that I am watching ahead to countermeasure anything that may be going on. This doesn’t take but two seconds longer, however, it is a lifesaver in my opinion. Do not get caught in the “road stare” zone. This is where you zone out because let’s be honest, it can be quite boring to drive and you tend to zone out. then doing that stare you might miss something important happening and you can be in a situation that is scary very fast. 

The next theing that we should do is ask questions. The only dumb question in my opinion is the one not asked. How are you going to learn if you don’t ask? So let’s talk about what you do when getting on the ramp for the freeway.

1. Pick your spot, where do you want to end up on the freeway? Pick your opening.

2. Check your mirrors and traffic coming up the freeway, make sure you can make that spot happen. 

3. Accelerate to a safe speed that the ramp allows and being accelerating to get on the freeway without impeding traffic. 

4. If you are heavily loaded and cannot get to freeway speeds fast please leave your hazards on until you are past 45 miles per hour (unless in California) to let other trucks and cars know that you are under the speed limit and are visible.

It is after all an acceleration ramp. So please don’t stop on the side of the road or on the shoulder unless you have two trucks side by side and they have no place to go to let you on. That is the exception to this rule. That is the importance of picking your spot.

WHY are they flashing their lights at me?

This is a question that I get asked frequently. Why do truckers flash their lights at each other? Whether that be the trailer lights, the hazard lights, or their headlights. Well, they all have different meanings. 

1. Flashing your headlights at on-coming traffic is usually only two reasons.

     a. Police in the area

     b. Deer or other obstacle was present on the road.

2. Flashing headlights or quickly turning them off and on for a truck in front of you lets them know you are clear to pass into your lane, and the hazards flashed three times are a thank you for that notice.

3. Flashing trailer lights at someone is a way to say thank you for letting me know I was cleared to change lanes.

DO NOT park at the fuel islands!

When you fuel your truck, you will need to pull forward when you are done fueling. PLEASE. Do not take your break at the fuel island, do not take a shower at the time you are in the fuel islands, and do not park there overnight. This may seem like common sense, however, it doesn’t appear to be common knowledge. You do not want to waste your clock on them, so do not do it to someone else PERIOD.

Now when you pull forward after fueling isn’t the time to complete those aforementioned tasks either. Do not hold people up. You know the saying BE KIND, yeah it works in trucking too. Get what you need to be done, done, and get on down the road.

You won’t have all the answers right away…

You are not going to know everything right away. That is ok. Learn and grow in your new career. Some people aren’t going to be helpful to you and others will offer to drive the truck for you. It is a new way of life for you and you have a lot of adjusting to do. But if you model only bad behavior that is what you will exhibit. Modeling good behavior is the way to go. All in all stop and look, ask questions, and keep on trucking. Cause if the wheels ain’t turning you ain’t earning.

Happy Trucking,



  1. Hey Leslie, thank you for writing this great article on the best practices for people new to trucking! I had been considering a career in trucking ever since I drove across Canada from Alberta to Ontario. It occurred to me that I do enjoy driving around quite a bit. This article has great insights into a trucking career, and I would love to read more. Do you have any other guides to trucking?

    1. Yes I do and thank you for your comment. I would love to help you in any way I can. It is an amazing job and I love what I do. There are a few articles on the website if you want to take a read through if you need more just email me on the site or here in WA!! Thank you again!!

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