6 Things Every New Truck Driver Should Know
We love talking about the terrific benefits and opportunities that trucking offers, but it’s important for new and potential drivers to take the time to discover whether the industry is right for them. For any of you new truck drivers or young graduates considering a career in trucking, we’ve gathered some insights from our experienced drivers. Here’s what they wish they had known before starting their first trucking job.
- Not All Training Programs Are Created Equal
Contract training, accreditation, certification… A quick online search will produce a huge number of driver training school and programs, each boasting different curricula, with different career possibilities and options. How do you choose? Do your research. Learn about the different opportunities available, and speak to drivers who are doing the kind of work you want to do. Many companies offer driver training as part of recruitment or advancement, so be sure to contact hauling companies as part of your research. At the very least, they’ll tell you what they look for and whether there are any programs that they endorse.
- Not All Transportation Jobs Are Created Equal, Either
One of the first things that new drivers will learn is that not all trucking jobs are the same. Just as with choosing a training program, do your research to find the best fit for your priorities. You can also use this knowledge to your advantage later in your career. If you find that your job no longer meets your needs, talk to your trainer or supervisor about other options within the company. If you miss the regularity of a stable schedule, you may just find that milk hauling offers everything you miss about your old nine-to-five, while still affording you the independence and autonomy of a job on the road. Likewise, the additional training and education required to transport dangerous goods, or to become a driver-trainer, may be just the right move if you crave new horizons in your work.
- Make Sure You’ve Had “The Talk”
Being on the road for long stretches of time can be difficult for any relationship, so couples and families should be sure to thoroughly discuss potential challenges before a person makes the career-change to new driver. Consider and discuss the possibility that you may miss important milestones. Your family and friends will need to be flexible and considerate of your new schedule. Driving offers tremendous opportunities and benefits, but it’s important to be realistic about the schedule. Make sure you and your family understand your new career and its requirements.
- Nurture Your Support Network
Staying connected with family and friends doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. Invest in a Bluetooth headset or WiFi-enabled tablet so that you can stay in touch with loves ones while you’re away, and set up a regular routine for calling or Skype calling (e.g., on lunch breaks or at dinnertime). Take time to prioritize your relationships when you’re away, just as you would when you’re at home. Communicate openly and honestly – especially if you’re struggling with some aspect of the new lifestyle – so that you can support each other through the transition.
- The First Year Is the Hardest
As with many big changes, your first year will involve many new adjustments and new challenges. When things get rough, remember: it will get easier. Stick with it, and remember to turn to your support network and other driver-friends when you need encouragement and reassurance.
- Always Be Prepared
Life on the road entails a certain amount of unpredictability, so it’s always wise to be prepared. Veteran drivers recommend keeping a trucker’s map, calculator and log book on hand, even if you have GPS and E-Logs, since they’ll be invaluable for finding your way and logging key information if technical issues arise. It’s also smart to keep important tools, such as a roll of duct tape, jumper cables, wrenches (9/16, 7/16, and ½) and flat-head and Phillips head screwdrivers on hand for emergency repairs. Finally, keep at least a week’s worth of clean clothing in your rig, in case unexpected delays push back your ETA or force you to take unplanned stopovers.
Driving for a living may involve a lifestyle adjustment, but that’s often one of the reasons that people want to make the career-switch. If you’re considering a career in trucking, do your research to ensure a smooth transition for you and your support network. That way, everyone will feel on-board with your new journey.