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Driver Mentor Benefits [And How to Find One]

June 5th, 2024



For new and seasoned drivers alike, navigating the challenges of the road can be a daunting task. If you’re new to trucking, you probably don’t know all the rules of the road and tips for success just yet. If you’ve been in the industry for decades, technology changes and new regulations may have you stumped.

This is where having a driver mentor can make all the difference. You can always learn something from someone else. 

A driver mentor is a driver who guides, supports, and shares invaluable knowledge with other drivers. Let’s explore the numerous benefits of having a driver mentor and provide some practical tips on how to find one in the industry.

While we don’t have a formal mentorship program here at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), our drivers often mentor each other — especially when drivers are new to the world of flatbed hauling and securement. 

In this article, you’ll find tips from our drivers about the importance of working with a driver mentor throughout your career and how you can find one. Most notably, you’ll hear from ATS driver Richard Stewart. He started as a motor vehicle operator in the military before getting his CDL in 2016 and moving to the trucking industry. 

Not only does Richard work with several mentors as he grows in his heavy haul career, but he also mentors other drivers. 

What is a Driver Mentor?

A driver mentor can be defined in two ways:

  • A driver mentor could be someone you work with as a driver apprentice
  • A driver mentor could be someone you work with throughout your career

In the first example, a driver mentor is someone who rides along with you after you finish trucking school. They train you as you work to get your required hours of experience behind the wheel. 

In the second example, a driver mentor is someone you look to for advice throughout your career — whether you want to know the best spots to park or you need tips to secure a load. 

For the purpose of this article, we’ll be referencing the second type of driver mentor.

The Benefits of Having a Driver Mentor

Having a driver mentor isn’t just important at the start of your career; it’s important to have someone you can look to throughout your career. 

And, you may be their mentee now, but the relationship goes both ways. One day you may very well be mentoring them. As long as you both keep an open mind and trust each other, a mentor/mentee relationship can be very fulfilling and help you become a more successful driver.

Check out the benefits of working with a driver mentor.  

Improved Safety

Safety is paramount in the trucking industry, and having a mentor can significantly enhance your safety practices. Experienced mentors share their real-life experiences and safety tips, which go beyond what’s covered in training manuals. 

They can teach you defensive driving techniques, proper load-securing methods, and how to handle various road conditions. For instance, a mentor might share insights on navigating icy roads or avoiding fatigue-related accidents, which can be life-saving. Real-world stories and hands-on advice help new drivers develop a safety-first mindset, reducing the likelihood of accidents.

Drivers often mentor each other when it comes to securing equipment. When you’re confused about how to secure something, you can always reach out to your safety team, but if you have a mentor, they’re a great resource, too. Plenty of drivers go up to each other at the truck stop, too, to ask for advice about securement.

Just make sure that if your mentor is from a different trucking company, you’re taking into consideration the different rules your company may require you to follow. Following the law and following company rules is crucial.

Trucker in plaid talking on the phone in his front seat.

Increased Job Satisfaction

Let’s be real: It gets lonely on the road. Sometimes you just want someone to talk to, to goof around with, or to talk about the stresses of the day. When you have a mentor, you have a built-in person who’s well-equipped to talk about all of this with you. They make for the perfect sounding board, offering both advice and encouragement.

A mentor can help you feel less lonely and provide emotional and professional support. We all need someone who helps us feel valued and understood from time to time. 

This support system can make a huge difference, especially during tough times on the road. Drivers who feel connected and supported are more likely to enjoy their job. It also might make you more likely to stay with your current company and feel more job satisfaction. 

Faster Skill Development

Learning the ropes of trucking can be a slow process without proper guidance. A mentor can accelerate skill development by giving great advice, personalized feedback, and tips to help you succeed. 

Whether it’s learning how to secure new freight, understanding complex routes, or handling customer interactions, a mentor’s guidance is invaluable. This accelerated learning curve not only makes drivers more competent but also more confident in their abilities.

If you’re new to the industry, you don’t know what you don’t know. You may have worked with a trainer in trucking school who is newer to the industry too. When you work with a more experienced mentor, you’ll learn the common courtesies of the road. 

You’ll learn how to share the road with other truck drivers. And you’ll learn a lot of things you wouldn’t otherwise learn until you have decades of experience (like the best truck stop for a home-cooked meal, where to park, or how to save money on fuel). These tips can help you earn more and make your job easier. 

Better Understanding of Company Culture

Every trucking company has its own culture and set of policies. A mentor can help new drivers adapt to these unique aspects by providing insights into the company’s expectations, values, and norms. This understanding fosters a smoother transition for you. 

For instance, Richard often helps new ATS drivers understand how the Lytx dash cam system works. He teaches them about the Lytx score, how unsafe driving behaviors will make them gain points, and how they can drive safer overall. 

This mentorship helps new drivers as they adapt to the system. 

Career Advancement Opportunities

Having a mentor can open doors to career advancement opportunities that might otherwise be inaccessible. Mentors often have extensive networks and can provide valuable recommendations and introductions. 

They also offer career advice and guidance, helping mentees identify and pursue their professional goals. For instance, a mentor might suggest additional certifications or training programs that can enhance a driver’s qualifications and lead to promotions. Many drivers who have climbed the career ladder attribute their success to the guidance and support of a mentor.

Richard, for instance, is advancing in the ATS heavy haul division. His mentors are helping him get there by providing advice to help him succeed every step of the way. Richard also talks to drivers hauling vans and tankers. Even though that isn’t something he does, he learns new strategies from them that make him better at his job. 

A mentor can also help if you hope to lease or own a truck one day. A mentor can guide you and help you reach your goals.

Trucks in a line parked in front of a truck stop.

Tips for Finding a Driver Mentor in the Industry

Wondering where you can find a mentor? You could always build relationships by talking to other drivers at truck stops, but here are some more tips for finding a driver mentor. 

Join Professional Organizations

Joining professional organizations and trucking associations is a great way to connect with experienced drivers who are willing to mentor others. 

Organizations such as the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) often have mentorship programs or can facilitate connections. These groups provide networking opportunities and resources that can help you find a suitable mentor.

Utilize Online Platforms and Social Media

Online platforms and social media are valuable tools for finding a driver mentor. LinkedIn, Facebook groups, and trucking forums are filled with experienced drivers willing to share their knowledge. 

Create a profile on these platforms, join relevant groups, and start engaging with the community. Don’t hesitate to reach out to drivers who inspire you and express your interest in mentorship. Many drivers are happy to share their expertise and help newcomers.

Be sure to ask your trucking company if they have any private social media groups you can join.

Seek Out Company Mentorship Programs

Many trucking companies have formal mentorship programs designed to support new drivers. Inquire within your company about such programs and express your interest in participating. 

These programs are tailored to align with the company’s values and expectations, providing a structured and supportive environment for new drivers. Getting involved in a company mentorship program ensures you receive guidance from someone familiar with the company’s operations and culture.

Ask for Recommendations

Sometimes the best way to find a mentor is through personal recommendations. Ask your driver manager if they know of any experienced drivers who would be willing to mentor you. 

Personal recommendations are valuable because they come from trusted sources who understand your needs and can vouch for the mentor’s capabilities. This approach often leads to finding a mentor who is a good fit for you personally and professionally.

Even if your company doesn’t have a formal driver mentorship program, they probably have a driver on their fleet they can recommend to you. 

Two truck drivers talking over paperwork in front of a tanker truck.

Become the Best Driver You Can Be

Having a driver mentor in the trucking industry offers numerous benefits, from improved safety and faster skill development to increased job satisfaction and career advancement opportunities. 

Mentorship can not only enhance your performance, but it can also help you feel more supported as a driver. 

If you’re looking to grow and succeed in your trucking career, finding a mentor is a step in the right direction. We can all learn something from another driver. Everyone is trying to succeed out there, but holding information back doesn’t help anyone. Sharing information and teaching other drivers will only make the industry stronger.

To find a mentor, talk to your company first. You can also take advantage of professional organizations, online platforms, and personal networks to connect with experienced drivers who can guide you on your journey.

The road ahead may be challenging, but with a mentor by your side, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate it successfully.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Drive4ATS Learning Center, where you can find hundreds of videos and articles from drivers and industry experts.