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5 Tips for Starting a New Job as an OTR Team Driver

steering wheel

If you’re a newly CDL-certified over the road trucker looking for a job to help you get settled in this new and exciting career, then look no further than OTR team trucking.

By driving with a trucking partner, you’ll not only be able to earn more but also tap into a wealth of experience that will help you learn the industry, master your driving skills, and build valuable connections with the other truckers you’ll be working alongside. Here are five simple tips for starting a new job as an OTR team truck driver:

1) Accept the Learning Curve

There will always be a learning curve when taking your first steps toward a new career. This is true for just about every new job you’ll ever have, and it’s especially true for the trucking industry. Operating a semi-truck isn’t always easy, and it’ll take you time to take the skills you earned in your CDL training and apply them to the open road.

Don’t fight the process though. Be patient with yourself, practice at truck stops if you can, and always be willing to ask your truck driving peers for advice. This is where your OTR co-driver can be helpful, as they will be happy to help you learn the tools of the trade so your learning curve is as smooth and manageable as possible.

2) Minimize Distractions

There will always be distractions on the road. However, you and your co-driver can work together to minimize how those distractions influence your driving. Here are the three primary categories of distractions you should be wary of:

  • Visual Distractions: Can be anything that might pull your eyes off the road.
  • Manual Distractions: Can include anything that could potentially cause you to remove one or both of your hands from the steering wheel.
  • Cognitive Distractions: Usually includes drowsiness, distracting conversation, or even daydreaming.  

You and your co-driver are a team, so if you find yourself growing distracted for any reason, let them know so they can help you stay focused on the task at hand.

3) Communicate

Communication is key in any and every situation you’ll experience on the road as an OTR team driver. You and your co-driver are a team, and regardless of your experience (or lack thereof if you’re just starting out), it’s essential that you consistently communicate with your partner. This means building a foundation of trust with them that will help you both know that, no matter what happens, you’ve got each other’s backs.

4) Pay Attention to Your Environment

Whether it’s a storm on the horizon, an accident on the highway, or just an unexpected detour, it pays to be informed of what kind of environment you’re driving in. This is especially true for OTR drivers since their jobs take them across the country, meaning they’re bound to encounter a situation they haven’t had to face before.

You can’t plan for every possible situation, but you can be prepared and adaptable to whatever the open-road throws your way. This means looking ahead at the weather forecast, checking out the route you’ll be on, paying attention to traffic patterns, and just generally paying attention to the world around and ahead of you.

5) Take Care of Yourself

When you’re spending long days on the road, you’re going to need to be well-rested, fed, and nourished in order to keep your senses focused. As such, it should go without saying that taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your OTR team truck driving experience is as safe, enjoyable, and lucrative as possible.

One of the (many) unique benefits team truck driving offers is the ability to take turns behind the wheel with a trusted and professional co-driver. If you find yourself growing drowsy, then ask your partner if you can swap roles and take a nap in the cabin while they keep going. You’re both in this together, so be open and honest with each other about your needs.


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