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Survival Guide to a Truck Driver’s First Year

Starting out as a truck driver is going to be tough. Already expect that going in. There are lots of blogs out there covering tips for new drivers. Obviously, not one can cover it all. Trucking isn’t that simple. So here are just a few things out of many to expect and prepare for.

Getting Lost

Even if you are normally good with directions, you haven’t been everywhere and will probably end up getting lost at least once during your first year. What can you do? Prepare for it. Familiarize yourself with the route before your trip. Also, avoid using Google maps or a car-based GPS unless it can show you trucking routes, which are different from normal routes for small cars. You don’t want to get stuck under a low bridge or in a tight subdivision. If you do happen to get lost, don’t panic. Panic causes either a wreck or you getting even more lost. You can either call your shipper for better directions or call out to a local driver on the CB who will know the area better and can direct you back onto your route.

Know When to Sleep

You’re probably thinking “sleep is for the weak.” Don’t make this mistake and put other people at risk. Drivers crash all the time from falling asleep at the wheel. Do yourself a favor and take short naps as needed and go to bed when you feel yourself getting tired.

Treat Yourself Occasionally

Speaking of favors, it’s okay to treat yourself every once in a while. You deserve it. Book a hotel room occasionally. Visit a good buffet and take the time to relax and socialize at truck stops. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself wondering where your life went. Live it a little.

Keep in Touch with Humanity

Being a truck driver means being alone. A lot. Find ways to keep in touch with other people, both strangers, and your family. During your home time, spend at least an hour or two alone with your spouse in addition to family time. This isn’t your time to unload all your worries on them. Make it into a date night. Plan to do something and not waste it on sleeping.

Think Before You Quit

When you’re cold, tired, and hungry, you might end up wanting to quit. Even if everything seems to be going horribly, wait it out until a good day to rethink the decision about whether or not to end your truck driving career. Also, give it a chance. At least a year, if you just want to switch companies. A year of experience will provide a good base for your career to be able to move on. If you really can’t stand the whole job, talk to a fellow truck driver and see if they ever overcame those same obstacles to discover if truck driving really isn’t for you.

Considering that you can typically earn your CDL in about 2 weeks, you won’t be losing much time in not wanting to continue a truck driving career. But still, it’s time you could have been spending elsewhere. Before diving into truck driving, make sure you do a little more research about what’s involved in the life of a truck driver, so you know what you’re getting into.