Rules and Regulations:


Here are some of the "must" that have nothing at all to do with actually driving the truck.

1. Route Planning, Map Reading, Trip Planning

Must be able to find most practical and time efficient route while avoiding truck restricted routes. Must be able to find new places in new cities on a nearly daily basis. Must know how to avoid dangerous situations such as low underpasses or impassable routes. Must read road signs - and fully understand the routing/sign system in order to avoid getting lost, wasting time and fuel and other potentially dangerous situations (i.e. low underpasses). Must know how to plan trip's fuel stops according to company policy.

2. Money Management

In order to make a good wage, a driver must learn good money management skills. A driver must also plan ahead for job related expenses, such as tolls, unloading fees, truck and/or trailer washes, etc. He or she must keep good track of expenses for purposes of taxes and to ensure proper reimbursement for company expenses.

3. Time Management

A driver must be able to accurately plan a trip to squeeze the most out of the time allowed. Without good time management, a driver will be late for pickups/deliveries and this may lead to job loss. Less severe but just as important, poor time management leads to unnecessary fatigue. A driver must learn the best routes to take, the best times of day for travel in certain areas and the nature of the terrain and how these factors affect travel time.

4. Paperwork

A driver is responsible for completing paperwork for each load hauled, as well as paperwork required for Hours of Service. Not completing this paperwork properly or on time may result in a paycheck being withheld or in the case of HOS (Hours of Service Regulations), a hefty fine.

5. Diplomat

Must deal with dispatchers, safety department, other motorists, truck stop employees, shippers, and receivers, law enforcement personnel, including highway patrol, local and city police and DOT officers as a professional.

6. Loading & Unloading

While many carriers pay for loading and unloading when required, others do not or at times, a receiver will not allow a driver to hire this work out. In such a case, the driver must be able to load or unload the freight.

7. Knowledge of Rules & Regulations

A driver must know the rules and regulations that govern him. Ignorance of the law will not excuse a driver or get him out of an expensive fine. A driver must know, at minimum, rules that pertain to Hours of Service, Fed Reg and equipment related requirements. A driver must know how to load the freight in order to comply with weight limitations and how to adjust weight (between axles) in order to bring an overweight load into compliance.

8. Patience

A driver spends an unbelievable amount of time waiting on others. This may be at a dock or sitting in a traffic jam. Patience is an absolute prerequisite. Other vehicles will do obnoxious, irritating and dangerous things around you all day, every day. You get "cut off" numerous times every single driving day. People constantly pull directly out in front of big trucks, with no thought for their safety -- or yours. Many drive selfishly - others drive foolishly - and others have no idea that they are causing a problem. It doesn't matter, really, because the important thing is that you must learn to deal with these things on a daily basis and not to become angry every time because in the end, it only distracts from the job you need to be able to do. A truck driver is not immune to road rage - but he or she must learn how to deal with and control him/herself when dealing with other motorists.

9. Ability to adapt

A driver must be able to adapt quickly according to the environment and the demands of the job. One day you may deliver a load at 8:00 AM but the next unloading appointment may be at 1:00 AM. Work hours are never the same. Along with work hours, eating hours and sleeping hours are rarely the same, either. They must constantly change according to the load. Beyond these issues, other factors are quick to change, also. One day a driver will be in the mountains and the next, in the desert. The weather changes can be dramatic, too.

10. Personal Safety

Must understand dangers of life on the road.

11. Mental Strength / Fortitude

A driver must often work when tired or very stressed. A driver is not "off" at 5:00 PM, and may actually just be starting his/her workday. Traffic, paperwork, law enforcement, dispatchers, etc can all contribute to a high stress level. While many people work when stressed, it is especially important that a driver learns to deal with stress factors because of the nature of the job - in other words, a big truck has great potential to cause massive injury. A distracted driver is not a safe one. Add to this the added worry about loved ones back home, homesickness, etc, and stress becomes a major factor.

After all of these skills, you have to know how to drive the truck.

The "must" that have something to do with driving the truck.

Of course, a driver must be capable of safe operation of the vehicle - often nearly 70 foot of vehicle with a pivot point - in all situations and places.

12. City Traffic:

Streets lined with cars on both sides with lanes so skinny in places that clearance is a matter of inches on either side. The driver must also be able to turn the vehicle into places not intended for 70 foot vehicles - meaning some creative and well thought out maneuvering is required. Cars will not usually understand what you are trying to do and will often honk, yell and go to extremes to go around you. Heavy traffic and congested freeways are par for the course.

13. Backing:

While some places will provide sufficient space, a great many warehouses provide only ample space - if that. A driver must be able to dock the trailer where the shipper/receiver wants it. It may take 5 minutes or it may take 45 minutes, but in order to load or unload, you will not have a choice. In the city, you may have to stop traffic from either or both directions. You may have to jackknife into a dock. You may have to back down an alley. You may have to back in blind. Anything goes. No matter how bad or how tight the dock is, if you hit anything, it is 100% your fault. You may have to get out of the truck 100 times, you may have to stop 100 cars, but one way or another, you will have to get the trailer in the dock.

14. Mountains:

Mountains present an extra challenge. A driver must be able to properly gauge at what speed and in which gear it is best to descend. He or she must understand how the weight of the load affects this decision. He or she must also make allowances when the weather and/or visibility is poor. The driver's carrier may expect the driver to put tire chains on when conditions warrant.

15. Bad Weather:

Bad weather driving comes in many forms. A driver must learn to adjust to everything Mother Nature might throw at him, such as: Thunderstorms, Hail Storms, Tornadoes, Sand Storms, Snow, Ice, Sleet, Freezing Rain, Temperature Extremes, and Fog.