T&P Trucking, Ltd.

How Do You Identify a Professional Truck Driver?

Categories: Articles

What is a professional truck driver to you? How would you identify or define what one is?

We took a good look into it and, from our experience, here is what we came up with:

Most have an idea of what it means to be a professional at any career or line of work, however, how would you explain what one is? When we sat down and discussed this, we concluded that a true professional is guided by principles that govern his or her very thoughts, actions, attitudes and desires. We labeled these principles as safety, honestydependability, and efficiency. These are the same principles that we use to identify and train potential workers to represent us on the road and to our customers. So applied the same principles when we sat down to discuss what a professional truck driver is:

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  1. Safety. This is the number one priority of any professional, especially those that share their work space with others. They recognize that for the benefit of their company, customers, family and neighbours they must operate in a safe manner at all times. A professional truck driver proves this is important to him by:
    • Carefully doing their pre-trips and checking their truck, trailer and shipment for any defects
    • Maintaining, cleaning and inspecting their vehicles and equipment according to a company prescribed preventative maintenance program
    • Securing and marking freight according to company policy and local DOT specifications
    • Adhering to HOS (hours of service) rules by getting enough rest and resetting with enough hours
    • Maintaining and wearing their PPE’s (personal protective equipment) on any site or when working on any roadside
    • Driving in a safe and courteous manner; avoiding distractions while driving
    • Adhering to the shipper’s loading procedures, safety signs and directions
  1. Honesty. Honesty is important to a professional as it keeps their performance and reputation at a high level, it makes it possible for their customers to build trust in them and their company, and honesty keeps a professional compliant to local laws and authorities. Honesty is good policy. A professional truck driver proves this is important to him by:
    • Reporting accurate HOS times, date and location details
    • Refusing to get involved with and reporting any evidence or first hand knowledge of illegal activities
    • Declaring items at the border that have been purchased or obtained while visiting another country
    • Taking a physical count of items loaded on their equipment, manifesting this accurately on bills of lading and manifests
    • Immediately reporting any accident or damage that was caused directly or indirectly by the driver’s actions, or anyone else’s action
    • Promptly reporting in for any drug or alcohol testing
    • Loading to their REAL maximum allowable weight when the shipper calls for it
    • Following through on doing work that they are instructed and paid to do
    • Reporting accurate in-out time details when charging by the hour

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  1. Reliability. A professional is called reliable because they can be depended on by their company and customers to get the job completed on time, every time. When work starts to dry up, a person with a reputation for being reliable will keep working because a company will only want to put their best foot forward in a tightening market. This applies equally to truck drivers. A professional truck driver proves that he is reliable by:
    • Being an early riser, ready to work early each day.
    • Communicating accurately, with advanced notice where possible, any changes or delays in schedules
    • Being on-time for all pick ups and deliveries (“on-time” means at least 15 minutes early for every appointment)
    • Arriving to all sites equipped for the job and their equipment in good repair
    • Committing to and following through on all direction given either from the company or its customers
    • Submitting all company required records and paperwork on-time
    • Being kind and courteous to all persons encountered
    • Taking advantage of in-house training to improve in their quality of work or performance
  1. Efficiency. Being efficient is important for any professional or company as it helps in cutting time, thus costs needed for the job. With lower overhead they can then be more competitive in the marketplace all while improving their customer service. Being efficient does not mean cutting corners or breaking the law, rather, it means working smarter. One of our customer’s signs in their plant reads, “Do it right, do it on time, do it on budget; But, first of all, do it right.” A professional truck driver strives to be efficient by practicing the following:
    • Adjusting their speed to be lower than the posted limit with lower RPMs, which can cut fuel consumption by 10-15%
    • Regularly watching fuel consumption for inconsistencies to identify poor fuel quality or engine problems early on
    • Daily checking on fuel prices on and along their route
    • Regularly maintaining their own vehicle and equipment to prevent sudden breakdowns and violations
    • Being proactive, trying to foresee problems by
      • Calling ahead with adequate notice to shippers and receivers prior to pick-up or delivery
      • Checking on PARS, PAPS, eManifests and weather conditions online
      • Planning routes according to traffic patterns
    • Making sure that tires are filled to the manufacturer’s specifications to improve engine and vehicle performance and tire longevity

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Of course, this is not an all inclusive list of identifiers of a professional truck driver. Some may simply say that what is important is that an employee exercises good moral value and common sense. We agree, because good moral value and common sense encompass the principles discussed and then some.

I’ll now ask the professional truck drivers, “How do you identify a professional dispatcher?”

Sam Pattison