by Pride Transport | Jan 14, 2019
A First Year Truck Drivers Need to Know
No, it’s not going to be easy
Ask any experienced truck driver about their first year and they’ll usually say: “It ain’t easy.” From adjusting your lifestyle to learning how to eat and not go broke on the road, the first year of a professional truck driver’s life is all about learning and staying safe.
A Change In Lifestyle
There is no doubt that in your first year on the road your lifestyle is going to change drastically. You’re going to have to adjust to being on the road for weeks at a time and back home for only a few days. You’ll have to pay attention to the 11/14 rule: You cannot “work” more than 14 hours in a 24-hour period and cannot drive more than 11 hours in a 24-hour period without taking a ten-hour break. That break is usually on the road during a haul.
You’ll have to adjust your eating. Avoid blowing all your money at truck stops and diners, or you’ll go broke and feel unhealthy. Eating on the road requires planning. Most drivers get a little oven, about the size of tackle box, that plugs into a cigarette lighter so they can cook on the road. Prepare meals at home, put them in your cooler and while you’re waiting to be loaded or unload, eat a healthy meal. Skip the truckstop giant candy bars and unhealthy choices. Go for fruit, yogurt and healthier snacks.
Get sleep. Don’t rely on caffeine or energy pills to get you through the day. You’ll be awake but you will not be alert. While you’re being loaded or unloaded, slip into the cab and catch a nap. Even twenty minutes is better than two cups of coffee.
Don’t Go it Alone
Time on the road in the first year can bring on feelings of loneliness and even depression. Your schedule will have you disconnected from family and friends. Avoid this by getting a good phone plan with enough data to allow you to Facetime and Skype with friends and family. Keep up your social media contacts — that’s a great way to stay in touch while you're on the road. Post pictures of all the incredible places across this great nation that you’ll being seeing on your journey.
On you home days, you’re going to be tempted to rest and lay around because driving a truck is as physically demanding as it is mentally and emotionally demanding. On those home days, think about getting up and getting out with the rest of the family, This helps you re-adapt to home life quicker, feel less of an outsider and make life smoother when you’re home.
Complaining Is Not an Option
As a first-year driver you may be tested. The boss may send you off on a terrible route or tell you to haul a particularly unwanted load. That’s part of being the new guy. You have to earn your premium routes and the most desireable loads. In your first year you’ll find yourself on some of the worst roads, with the narrowest streets in the busiest cities, and you have to deal with that. Part of that is about being new and part of that could be the boss testing you. Do you take the assignment without making a big deal about it, without complaining, or do you gripe and moan about all the bad routes you get handed? How you handle the assignment is going to show your boss and your fellow drivers the kind of driver you are. What kind of driver do you want to be known as? The reputation you build in year one is going to be with you all the way to year 50.
Experience is Where the Money Is
As a rookie driver, in your first year, you’re not going to make as much as the more experienced drivers. The more you drive, the more you make. Like with most companies, pay is based on experience. Some companies pay between 28 and 40 cents per mile. At Pride Transport you can expect to make between 40 and 55 cents per mile. That’s good starting pay and it gives you goals to shoot for. Be patient, do the driving and you’ll make good money.
Final Thoughts; The First Year is Not Easy But, You Can Make It.
Doing anything for the first time is going to be hard. Driving a truck, on your own, the first year, is no different. There are going to be difficulties, late loads, traffic jams and it may feel like the world is collapsing on top of you, but you can make it. On the road: stay alert, drink water, get some exercise, eat right and get your sleep. At the terminal: be positive, take the assignments you’re given without complaining. Stay in touch with family and friends while on the road and keep loneliness and depression at bay. No one is going to tell you the first year is easy. If you’re determined and smart, you’ll fly through your first year and before you know it, you’ll be the one giving the rookies advice.