What Makes Someone A True Super Truckerby Jake Tully - Published: 6/08/2017
In the world of trucking, there is an increasing amount of discussion regarding “star” truckers or “super truckers” ranging from large-scale companies with driver recognition programs to state trucking organizations awarding truckers with titles such as “driver of the year” for outstanding work within their trucking job.
There have always been super truckers, even before the culture of work recognition began to see prevalence in our society. At the same time, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of drivers who display the characteristics of a super trucker every day on our roads.
There are many attributes of great drivers that comprise a modern day “super trucker” - and for that matter nearly anyone can become the road’s best by displaying some key qualities on the road.
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Employing Confidence and Competence
In order to become a super trucker, a driver needs to demonstrate both knowledge on the road as well as an ability to confidently complete their job despite the conditions that the road may present.
There are plenty of drivers on the road who know the protocol in how to navigate through a blizzard in Iowa, but they may not be able to properly utilize their equipment to safely truck on through the storm.
Conversely, there may be plenty of fearless drivers who have zero qualms in tackling the asphalt head first, but they may lack the formal training that may make a driver better accountable for their actions on the road.
A true super trucker is one that synthesizes their skills of practical knowledge alongside their instincts – the correct balance of book smarts and street smarts, as some might call it. Of course, one cannot truly be used without the other. Confidence is necessary to be considered competent, and only the foolhardy rush out with the required knowledge beforehand.
Being a Team Player
Whether a driver has a trucker job through a company position or is an owner-operator, there are frequently times on the job where a run may not seem easy, nor is it at all desirable. After months or years on the road, a driver can easily become jaded and harbor some disdain for their life on the road. When tasked with an unpleasant assignment, a true road warrior gratefully takes the job and heads through Texas (or wherever they may be) in order to get the job done.
However, a true champion of trucking is one that does not let their reticence for the road get the better of them. Super truckers alike will take on the late nights, long hauls and otherwise unwanted routes not only because they love the freedom of the open road, but because they understand the inherent importance that drivers hold in maintaining the very fiber of America.
The aspect of being a team player isn’t simply just for solo drivers – it’s also about drivers who are assigned to teams with another driver they may barely know (or not know at all.) Rather than balking at the idea of getting team with a randomly selected driver, a true professional makes the best of the situation and gets to know the driver they will be spending months alongside the cab with. Rather than balking at their team assignment and wrestling with their manager to get them a new partner, integral drivers shake the hand of the man or women they will be sitting next to and head out on their path to Florida – or wherever their destination may be.
And while no one expects any trucker, no matter how dedicated, to take on a load that puts them outside the limits of what is legal or safe, there are times when a driver may fit in that extra load or take a trip down the road for a local route. Drivers that go above and beyond are consistently those that take on “just one last run” when they can, and go the extra mile, within reason.
A Sense of Responsibility
Truckers understand the incredible importance of their occupation and the role they play in moving freight across the country. As drivers and non-drivers are well aware, a truck driving job isn’t simply about getting cargo from point A to point B, it’s about getting vital items and resources into the hands of consumers and businesses every day. Without trucks, quite simply, the quality of life for Americans would not be at the same level that it is today. Trucks are the reasons that consumers can enjoy the products they need at nearly any time of day at multiple locations within their area.
Where a super trucker comes in to play here, however, is not simply understanding the gravitas of their role in the American economy and the plight of consumerism. Rather it is the way in which drivers deliver this highly-anticipated and greatly sought after freight that may place them into a higher echelon of those on the road. Super truckers are those that deliver freight with diligence, authority and a sense of respect for the safety of themselves and others. Operating primarily in a state with busy roadways such as California will likely cause a driver to check their diligence quite frequently.
Some may argue that a great trucker is one that is that is also timely. While keeping track of one’s time on the road and planning in advance for a trip is certainly an important and valuable skill to have, being on time should not supersede one’s ability to manage safe driving skills. The terrific drivers in the United States know that being on time is not as crucial as ensuring the integrity of the load itself, nor is it worth jeopardizing one’s accountability on the road.
Driving With Reason, Acting With Reason
One of the main characteristics of a super trucker is not how hard they can push themselves or what impossible feats of strength they can accomplish. Instead, truckers who demonstrate the ability to work within a reasonable amount of hours and those who can defy “overdoing it” garner a great deal of respect.
Super truckers are those who take care to make sure they receive adequate rest before taking on a OTR route – without simply supplementing a good night (or afternoon) of sleep for a pot of coffee and some wishful thinking. As time has gone on we in the industry know that drowsy driving is just as dangerous as driving under the influence, and that is why many great operators take care to rest when they feel physically exhausted.
A reasonable force on the road will also ensure that they take the necessary steps to complete a thorough and professional pre-trip inspection so that they cover their bases for many of the basic problems one may face on the road. The unexpected may be inevitable in many cases, but making sure that visible problems are defined beforehand is paramount to a responsible driver’s checklist.
Additionally, a reasonable driver will not succumb to the antics of road rage. It can very easy and often tempting to let one’s anger get the better of them when a non-commercial driver acts irresponsibly, but a true trucking professional must remember that not all drivers are created equal and that getting upset in a precarious situation can only serve to worsen it.
Overall, drivers are frequently representing a large carrier or presence on the road – not just representing themselves. It is important to keep in mind factors that may impact safety, but certainly those that may affect the standing or relationships of the company one is driving for.
Love For The Job
While the above points are more factual and perhaps present the more serious side of trucking, there is perhaps no better way to become a super trucker than to demonstrate a love for the road and for the job that they do. Following guidelines and suggestions to a tee means significantly less if someone is not passionate about their job. Believe it or not, the level of enthusiasm and passion (or lack thereof) one displays can be reflected in one’s work and is felt by those around them.
You are a super trucker if you love the feeling of rolling down the highway and taking in the scenery, behind the helm of one of the most powerful machines on the road. You are super if you enjoy the sense of great responsibility that trucking calls for and the immense joy that your efforts bring the customers you serve. You are super if you can count the truck stop coffee and snacks as positive experiences and have fond memories of first setting up your sleeper to resemble something close to a “living room.”
There are very few professions outside of trucking that are so important and simultaneously so demanding. However, there are few professions that can become so immediately rewarding that are full of a variety of different experiences nearly every time one gets behind the wheel.
Truckers are truly in a class of their own when it comes to the landscape of American jobs and those who work in highly specialized industries in the country. Becoming a super trucker is not an easily-achieved position, but it is a title that has been achieved by many throughout the history of truck driving in America.