7 Things you need to know in your first year as a truck driver

The First Year is the Toughest

There is no doubt about it, your first year as a truck driver is going to be the hardest one.  

You’ll be making lots of adjustments like getting accustomed to the job, getting familiar with the truck you drive, utilizing your new driving skills and getting accustomed to the lifestyle.

There are still so many things to learn about the job that you haven’t learned yet.

1. Getting Driving Experience

Experience is important when it comes to getting the best truck driving job.  The more experience you have behind the wheel, the better driver you’ll become.

The more experience you have, the more money you’ll make. Experience will also help you relax more and ease the stress and  you’ll enjoy your driving job more.

2. Getting Seat Time

Keep in mind that the main goal of that first year as a new truck driver, is the seat time.

It won’t be easy seat time, especially for those people who have hired onto to a big carrier for a company sponsored CDL training program. Enduring such a program can be a challenge unto itself.

The Trainer

Chances are that you’re being trained and driving around with a driver trainer. 

Some driver trainers are good and some are not so good. There’s another adjustment you’ll need to make.

The long and the short. 

You’ve got two drivers in one truck and it’s a pretty small space. You’ll need to learn to spend your work day with this trainer, whether you like him or not.

If you and the driver trainer are on the road for long haul driving, that will mean sharing the same sleeper bunk.

THAT’S a whole challenge unto itself which you will have to cope with. 

You’ve got another person with you in very tight quarters and that can create all sort of problems, so be prepared for this.

3. Paid CDL Training Program Wages Can Be Lousy

To add insult to injury, chances are that the time you spend on the road with your driver trainer, won’t pay particularly well. 

New truck driver training pay can be lousy.  So be prepared to take somewhat of a financial hit. Most carriers pay poor wages for the training period.

However, driver pay doesn’t improve very much even when you hit the road on your own, in that first year or so. 

You should be prepared for this. It’s not fair, but it’s reality.

You’re  not going to make great money the first couple of years as a trucker. 

It’s the price of getting the experience and sharpening your driving skills. It’s a sacrifice I suggest you take in stride, if you want a truck driving career.

You may get long trips, which usually pay better as there are more miles. 

However, you won’t be able to travel as efficiently as a more experienced driver, as you’re still learning. 

Consider it part of the learning process.

4. Minimize Accidents

One of your most important goals is to minimize the chances of having an accident. 

Accidents are very common in that first year as a professional truck driver.

In that first year, there’s the challenge of getting accustomed to the truck.

Do your very best to avoid accidents. They will show up on your driving record (DAC report, in US, CVOR in Canada). 

Many incidents are preventable and unnecessary.

5. Adjust To Being Away From Home

Nowadays, it’s a fact of life for new professional drivers to be on the road for several weeks or more at a time.

If you are married or in a relationship, that’s a factor you must be prepared to deal with as well. 

Your family needs to know what to expect as well, and be prepared. It’s simply part of the lifestyle of a trucker.

Being alone for long periods of time can be tough emotionally on some people. 

Loneliness, depression and anxiety are not uncommon issues truck drivers face. 

A trucking career can take its toll on both the physical and mental health of a trucker.

6. Keep Focused on Your Goals

I’m not going to lie to you. 

That first year as a new truck driver can be rough. 

But, it’s important not to get discouraged and overwhelmed.  The ultimate goal is to accumulate seat time and rack up driving experience.

7. It All Boils Down To ‘Survival of the Fittest’ – Hang in There

If you can survive the toughest stuff they throw your way, chances are you’re able to survive anything that comes your way.

Think about it. 

The trucking company REALLY doesn’t know you at all. 

If they’ve got an ugly load, they’ve got to get rid. Chances are, they’ll assign the load to the new truck driver on the board, rather than give it to someone that they consider a friend, co-worker or a valuable experienced driver.

Yes, you’ll get some ugly work. But, don’t worry, that will improve with time. Keep in mind the end goal.

Yes, it will be tough at times. But, you will accumulate the driving experience and the seat time. 

THAT’S the long term plan to reach your goal.

Yes, it will get easier and better as time goes on.