Driver training is one of the most important things you’ll do as a truck driver. Experience, of course, is a necessary part of being a great truck driver, because every great trucker started out as a new driver. What you learn when you start lays the foundation for the skills you’ll fine tune throughout your career. We recently sat down with two of our driver trainers, Georgianna Bitner and Tom Gosler to get their best tips and advice for trainees:

Q: First, tell us a little bit about yourselves and your truck driving experience.

Georgianna: I’ve been driving since 1997 and this August it will be 20 years with Carter. I grew up watching trucks go down the road all the time. My brother became a driver and I thought that if he could do it, so could I.

Tom: I became a driver 17 years ago and have only worked for Carter. Truck driving has always been in my family – my grandfather, father and uncle were all truck drivers. It just made sense that I would become one too.

Q: There’s a lot of trucking companies out there. So why Carter?

Georgianna: Carter is a local company for me so it’s not far from where I live. I knew they had a good reputation and they’ve certainly lived up to it and then some.

Tom: The paid training program. When I became a truck driver, Carter was the only company doing paid training at the time.

Q: Since you’ve both stuck with Carter for quite some time, is it safe to say you really like working here?

Georgianna: Definitely! There’s a lot of good people here, which really creates a place you want to come to work.

Tom: Carter has a great family atmosphere and the miles are always consistent. They’ve always taken really good care of me.

Q: How long have you been a driver trainer and what made you decide to train other drivers?

Georgianna: I’ve been a trainer for seven years. When I first started here, Carter didn’t have any female trainers. I kept telling them they needed to have a female trainer and eventually I decided to become one. I really enjoy it. I like meeting new people, showing others what I know, and giving them the knowledge to help keep them safe and successful.

Tom: About seven or eight years, I think. I wanted to train new people coming into the business and teach them the safe and proper way to do things. Not only to keep them safe, but to look out for other drivers, too. My family also drives up and down these highways, so safety is the most important thing.

Q: What should driver trainees expect when they come to Carter?

Georgianna: Carter has one of the best programs out there. They’ll spend one week in the classroom, two weeks of city training and a few weeks OTR.

Tom: The training itself is important, of course, but I think trainees should also notice the atmosphere around here. There’s a great camaraderie between the office staff and drivers. At a lot of your mega carriers, it’s usually one side against the other all the time, but at Carter it’s completely different.

Q: What are your best tips for trainees?

Georgianna: Safety is number one and your mirrors are the most important piece of equipment you have. You can’t trust anyone else on the road but yourself, so you need to be constantly watching everyone around you.

Tom: Don’t drive outside your abilities. Always pay attention and use the Smith System: aim high in your steering, get the big picture, keep your eyes moving, leave yourself an out, and make sure they see you.

Q: What are some of the hardest things to teach new truck drivers?

Georgianna: Backing the truck up is one of the hardest things to learn. New drivers tend to oversteer and have a hard time judging where their trailers are.

Tom: It’s really hard for them to get rid of their habits of driving their personal vehicles. The stuff you would normally do in your car, you can’t do in your truck, like following distance and dealing with merging traffic.

Q: What makes Carter’s training experience unique?

Georgianna: Carter’s training program is six weeks long. Most companies are closer to two or three weeks long. Sure, you’ll get on the road faster, but you won’t be ready. Carter trainees get extra time to learn those skills and if they need more work, then they can continue to stay in training until they’re ready.

Tom: Our training is more safety oriented and it’s a much more thorough and detailed program.

Q: Tell us one or two things every new driver should take away from their training experience.

Georgianna: It’s important to take what you’ve learned – what the trainers give you – and make it your own. How I do something may not work for you. And you have to be cautious, focused, and attentive at all times.

Tom: When you’ve gone through Carter’s training program, you can have confidence that you were properly trained and taught the safe way to do things. For instance, at driving school, students really only learn how to pass the state exam. Here, we teach them how to drive and operate a truck and back them up to a real facility and in real life situations.

Tom does range training with driver trainees out of our Anderson, Ind., terminal currently but will be transitioning back to over the road training soon. Georgianna is a local driver who is also based out of our Anderson terminal.

Thinking about becoming a truck driver? Get started the right – and safe – way. Contact one of our recruiters today to learn more about our driver training program.