Starting a new job can be scary. The pressure is on to create a good impression and be productive. When the job also means you are behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler, you really don’t want to make any mistakes.
Anyone who is new to the world of truck driving – or in the process of completing their CDL training – needs to be prepared for what lies ahead. Your first year of trucking is going to be the hardest as you get used to the job, familiarise yourself with your truck, put your driving skills into practice and adapt to the lifestyle.
Here are a few tips to help you on your way.
1 Get plenty of driving experience
The more experience you have of driving a truck, the more relaxed you will become. The more relaxed you are, the better driver you will be. And the better you are, the more money you will make. It’s as simple as that.
2 Be patient
Most drivers starting out will spend their seat time with a driver trainer. It’s pot luck whether that person is a good or bad trainer – or whether you get on with them. On long-haul journeys you will have to share a sleeper bunk with this person, so be prepared for the fact you’ll be living in one another’s pockets. The more patient and tolerant you are, the better for the both of you.
3 Remember, the wages will get better
The pay as a trainee driver isn’t great. Even when you go it alone, your wages for the first couple of years won’t be much better. However, that time will be well spent because you’ll be honing your skills, getting valuable experience and increasing your confidence. Be prepared to take a financial hit in the beginning, but put in the time and the money will get better.
4 Do your best to avoid accidents
Unfortunately, accidents are common among new drivers as they get used to the truck. It’s important to minimise your chances of having an accident, as they will show up on your driving record in the future. You’ll also want to avoid the embarrassment and cost of having an accident.
5 Get used to the lifestyle
You don’t need me to tell you that driving a truck means long periods away from home. Make sure you and your family are prepared and know what to expect. While it might be emotionally tough at times, remember it can be incredibly rewarding as well.
6 Stay focused
However tough your first year is, it’s important not to lose sight of your goals. There will be times when you feel discouraged or overwhelmed, but it’s all part of the learning process. If you want to make truck driving your career, you need to clock up the seat time. The more practice and experience you have, the better your CV. Keep the end goal in sight and fine tune your driving skills at every opportunity.
Make no mistake, your first year won’t be a walk in the park. It’s going to be a challenge, but the longer you stick at it, the easier it will become.
So, what are you waiting for? That freight isn’t going to move itself.
If you’re starting out in the industry, get in touch. We’d love to hear about your experiences so far.