We recently had the pleasure of speaking to company driver Roni Bender, a mother of two and grandmom to one. After a career in customer service, Roni made the transition to trucking a few years ago and hasn’t looked back since. Roni is based in Nashville. She is an OTR driver with Schneider in the Southeast and is loving it. Roni also is involved with the SHE Trucking Sisterhood, an online community of over 8,000 professional women truck drivers. Roni loves mentoring new truckers with SHE Trucking and talking to people who are interested in getting into trucking. When we spoke with Roni, she offered some great tips for new drivers. Check them out!

1. Have the Right Mindset, Be Adaptable

One of the hardest things to get use to for most new truckers is the solitude, especially for long haul truckers. You will spend a good portion of your working days alone or with little contact with others. As a trucker, you’re going to miss holidays, birthdays and other events back home. Roni says that as a new driver, you have to have to right mindset from the beginning and be able to adapt.

“Can you be away from home, can you deal with loneliness, can you miss Thanksgiving and Christmas, the birthdays, the barbeques and things like that? If you’re ok with missing those things, then trucking is for you,” Roni said. “You have to look beyond the money. Yes, trucking is good money, but at the same time, can you deal with being out here and being lonely? Do you know how to adapt? It’s not just about driving.

“Can you be away from home, can you deal with loneliness, can you miss Thanksgiving and Christmas, the birthdays, the barbeques and things like that? If you’re ok with missing those things, then trucking is for you,” Roni said. “You have to look beyond the money. Yes, trucking is good money, but at the same time, can you deal with being out here and being lonely? Do you know how to adapt? It’s not just about driving.

2. Be Prepared (To Go Outside Your Comfort Zone) 

It’s not always going to be peaches and cream out here,” says Roni. “We run into bad weather, we have to deal with not being able to find a parking spot sometimes and we may not be able to shower every day. You have to be willing to take yourself outside of your comfort zone. You’re roughing it, but you have to be prepared.”  

According to Roni, getting sweaty and dirty is part of the job and you’re going to have to pick up a hammer and think outside the box sometimes to get there on time. Roni says that as a trucker, you can’t wait for someone else to come and do it for you. Roni told us she appreciates the tools that Trucker Tools provides because they help truckers plan ahead. She’s been using the Trucker Tools driver app for about a year.

I appreciate the tools that Trucker Tools and other people have given us because those are the tools that help us find that parking and rest areas to make it easy for us,” Roni says. “I can put in a destination and the app will give me the time I’ll get there. I love that. It just works for me and other drivers. Trucker Tools’ driver app finds me rest areas and truck stops, and can tell me how many parking spaces are available. The app is wonderful.” 

I appreciate the tools that Trucker Tools and other people have given us because those are the tools that help us find that parking and rest areas to make it easy for us,” Roni says. “I can put in a destination and the app will give me the time I’ll get there. I love that. It just works for me and other drivers. Trucker Tools’ driver app finds me rest areas and truck stops, and can tell me how many parking spaces are available. The app is wonderful.” 

3. Stay Safe During the Pandemic

This year, we’ve had to break habits and make new habits,” Roni said. “You know, getting out of your truck, you have to remember your mask. You have to use hand sanitizer and wash your hands more than you usually do. I used to clean my truck once a week. Now, I’m sanitizing my truck a couple of times a week. I put my mask right on my turn signal so I remember to put it on.”  

Roni says that truckers are among the most vulnerable to the Coronavirus because they have contact with so many different people and may be in four or five different states in a single day. Roni noted that some shippers will ask you to sanitize your hands or put on a mask before approaching their windows — every shipper is different. Some shippers may only have porta-potties available for you, so it’s good idea to keep hand sanitizer on hand. Roni also reports that some docks are using kiosks to automate their interactions with truckers so that it’s a contactless experience for truckers. 

For more of our convo with Roni, read Trucker Roni Bender Talks Technology, Mentoring New Drivers and Why She Loves the Trucker Tools Driver App. To download Trucker Tools’ free driver app, visit https://www.truckertools.com/web/carriers/