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Unbreaking Trucking

Inspiring insights for the ambitious driver.
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What You Need to Know When Starting Out in Trucking

Written by Lanefinder
September 17, 2021

Many new drivers go into trucking because they think it’ll be an easy way to earn big money without much investment, training, and commitment. That’s not the case.

Before you dive head first into a career like trucking, you need to make sure your expectations align with the reality of the industry.

If you’re just getting started and you’re expecting a cushy gig that’ll get you home daily - you can forget it!

Your first year in trucking isn’t about thriving or raking in the money, it’s about learning, surviving, and adapting. Let’s get your expectations straight with some brutal truths about your first 6 months behind the wheel.

Get ready to sleep less

Many new drivers out of school don’t realize how time consuming their life on the road will be. Remember that aside from driving, you’ll need to do everything else you normally do. Eating, sleeping, cleaning, washing your clothes… yeah, you’ll need to make time for all that too.

Getting organized and prioritizing all of your tasks efficiently won’t come naturally to you right away, so be prepared to get overwhelmed and overworked.

Many new drivers need to adjust to the hectic schedule and heavy workload of life on the road, and often that can lead to a serious lack of sleep.

Just remember that safety is your number one priority, and to always take care of yourself when you get too exhausted.

  • Don’t drive when you’re too tired - Operating a huge and speeding heap of metal and dozing off doesn’t mix well.
  • Take breaks - Get out of your truck for some fresh air, and take a breather when you’re feeling too tired.
  • Keep your caffeine levels stable - though drinking coffee or an energy drink can give you a great boost, they’ll also make you crash, eventually. Consume responsibly.
  • Take naps when you can - just 30 minutes can give you the boost you need to carry out the rest of your shift safely.

Sleeping aside, remember that taking care of yourself is your TOP priority when out on the road. Treat yourself well and reward yourself for your hard work.

Get ready for unexpected delays and breakdowns

Whether it’s being delayed at a dock, being late, getting stuck in traffic, or having a tire blow out, you’re going to encounter issues on the road.

You need to be prepared for these events, but more importantly, you need to know how to deal with them calmly and professionally.

Many rookie drivers may feel like they’re the unluckiest drivers in history, but the truth is that encountering break-downs and issues is just part of the deal.

When you encounter delays, break-downs, weather events, or what have you - keep calm and communicate with your managers in a professional manner.

The last thing you want to do is lose your temper, yell at your dispatcher, or complain. These things happen, and when they do, you need to keep your composure and be a helpful and proactive colleague.

Expect to get lost

Odds are you’ll get lost a few times during your first few months of driving. That’s alright - it happens to many drivers.

Getting lost isn’t always your own fault, either. Sometimes the directions you get are faulty, or you end up having to re-route due to road conditions or other unforeseen circumstances.

If you ever find yourself lost, here are a few things you can do:

  • Avoid using regular GPS directions - You need to be careful using Google Maps and other forms of GPS not built for trucking. These can take you down some roads that will be very difficult to maneuver in a massive truck.
  • Call the shipper or receiver - Calling someone familiar with the local landscape can prove to be very helpful when you’re in a pinch.
  • Use the CB radio - Calling out to other drivers is a great way to navigate unfamiliar territory.

Just remember to keep your cool and drive responsibly. Getting lost shouldn’t be an excuse to disregard your training or turn around unsafely. The last thing you want is to lose your job to a preventable accident or safety violation.

It gets better

Starting out in trucking is overwhelming and demanding but the rewards after a year or so of driving make it worth it. Even when you find yourself overwhelmed, remember to reward yourself and soak in the moments that make the job worthwhile. You’ll have stressful times, sure, but they’ll get easier as you grow and become a better driver.

You won’t know if you have what it takes to be a trucker until you face the challenges. If you come out on the other side nostalgic and full of great memories, you’ll know that you’ve picked the right career.

Unbreaking Trucking

Inspiring insights for the ambitious driver.

Being able to overcome the challenges of the trucking industry is the key to your professional well-being as a CDL driver.

Staying on top of your game will help you make smarter choices, land better jobs, and have a clearer picture of where your career is heading.

We’re here to help you do just that.

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