What to Expect in the First Year of Truck Driving
The first year on the road is the toughest. Drivers begin a new career with the expectation of freedom and travel. They get to see the country on the company’s dime. They will be the king of the road.
There is a thread of truth through it all, but it’s not without challenges.
New truck drivers who come into the industry with an understanding of what truly lies ahead of them will be better served in this new world.
It’s not often that a new driver gets the newest equipment. Odds are, you will bump into something and cause some sort of damage to your truck or trailer. It’s far better to have the happen with older equipment than a brand new rig. Take your time and learn how your truck and trailer handle. Cliché as this is, remember G.O.A.L. - Get Out And Look. It’s saved my butt more than once. In time, you will work your way into new equipment, but first, prove your skills and take responsibility for your mistakes. Your integrity will follow you.
I’m an introvert. That doesn’t mean I’m shy, it just means I thrive off quiet time and meaningful engagements with others. Small talk? I don’t have time or interest in that. But let’s dig deep into meaningful discussions and I’m good to go. But even with this innate nature, I still encountered times of loneliness. While you are on the road it’s important to understand that your friends and family continue to live their lives in your absence. It’s vital to your well-being to keep in touch with your loved ones as often as possible to keep a sense of connection and manage feelings of loneliness.
Lack of Routine
Your trucking life puts you at the beck and call of dispatch. You are truly off the clock for just 10 hours each day, with eight of those intended for sleep. In many cases, the next day begins as soon as your 10-hour break ends causing your routine to shift from day to day. Some days end at dinner, others end at bedtime. You must accept that routines shift on a daily basis.
The cost of life on the road can add up. Meals, coffee, and snacks have a way of eating away at your bank account. The best means to combat financial erosion is to plan and prepare. Grab snacks from the grocery store the next time you’re shopping and keep them in the truck. Consider trail mix and fresh vegetables like baby carrots and snap peas. Cut back on coffee and go with water and lemon.
Plan what you want to eat for the week or two that you’re away, and prepare meals in advance, freezing them before you head out. Each day you can have a meal that tastes like home while saving dollars. I choose to make all my suppers and some lunches ahead of time, but had oatmeal or toast at breakfast. However you choose to travel, plan and prepare to save yourself money.
You will encounter job hoppers. These are the drivers that always chasing the next best thing to come along. Sure, there will likely be a time when a job change is in store, but take your time and get experience in the job you’re at. Job hoppers are unreliable and undesirable at quality carriers. Job hopping will eventually limit you from getting to the right place and the right job.
So many aspects are out of the control of truck drivers. From weather delays to load delays, there’s often some outside source that impacts your day. There’s absolutely no sense getting angry and worked up over delays. The more intensely you respond to situations the more likely you are to make poor decisions that could have devastating impacts. Your attitude about delays and circumstances out of your control will greatly impact your well-being and the safety of others.