The Top 5 Things to Know Your First Year Truck Driving

by Pride Transport | Feb 15, 2024

Truck driving has the potential to be an excellent career with a good income. CDL-A drivers typically receive excellent pay and benefits. They also tend to receive bonuses and perks for their hard work. 

If you’re interested in a role in truck driving, know that the median income for company truck drivers was $59,925 in 2023. With that in mind, a first-year truck driver's salary could range from around $35,300 and up. Much of what you earn will depend on your specific employer, your rate per-mile, and any bonuses you qualify for. 

Money is just part of the equation for new drivers, though. Driving can also create the opportunity to see the country, explore new places, meet new people, and enjoy a career where two days are rarely the same. 

It’s an exciting career where learning is the priority. As you get started, remember the first year of this role is usually the toughest one, largely because you’re still learning the ropes. By getting to know important rules and regulations, developing healthy habits, and working on your problem-solving skills, you’ll set yourself up for a successful career. The following are five things to remember as you start your new job in truck driving. 

Regulations Are Designed With Safety in Mind

The first things you should become knowledgeable about in your new career are the rules and regulations that apply to you as a driver. Adherence to these regulations ensures that everyone on the road stays safe and can prevent serious, potentially life-threatening collisions. 

Truck drivers are required to know and follow the rules set by the federal government. Some of the rules and regulations to remember include your work hours under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Hours of Service Regulations. For example:

  • Property-carrying drivers have an 11-hour driving limit (maximum) after being off duty for at least 10 hours.
  • You’re required to take a 30-minute break every eight hours. 
  • You need to abide by the 60/70-hour limit. 


Make sure to get to know more about these rules, and ask questions if you’re unclear about any of them.

In addition to these rules, keep in mind that you’ll have to follow local and state traffic laws, as well. You should avoid speeding, for example. Additionally, CDL drivers shouldn’t drink alcohol within four hours of driving. If you’re stopped with alcohol in your system, .04% blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, is enough to lead to a DUI/DWI and potentially cost you your license and career. 

There is a lot to learn about what you can or cannot do behind the wheel. From rest breaks to driving safely based on state traffic laws, knowing the rules you need to stick to will help you stay on the right side of the law. 

pride transport employee in front of truck
How to Stay Healthy While Driving

Another thing to do is to develop healthy habits that will protect yourself and others. 

Driving for many hours on end is challenging physically and mentally. Truck drivers are sedentary most of the time, which means they’re at an increased risk of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT). Moving around, taking regular breaks, drinking lots of water, limiting your sodium intake, and exercising can help reduce the risk of blood clots. 

Mentally, truck driving can be tiring and, sometimes, tedious. To get through boring stretches and mental fatigue, it’s important to take scheduled breaks. Know that not paying attention increases the risk of a crash, as does fatigue. If you prefer not to drive alone, consider driving in a team.

Finally, remember that having a healthy routine is vital for a successful career. Get enough sleep each night so you’re not tired behind the wheel. Eat healthily to stay in shape and ensure your body has the nutrients it needs. Exercise to reduce the risk of serious health issues, and focus on overall mental health and well-being to improve your satisfaction in this role. By taking steps to be at your best, you’ll improve your performance and become a safer driver. 


Healthy Communication Is Vital

The importance of good communication can’t be overemphasized. When you’re driving, stay in touch with shippers and dispatchers. Build good relationships with these people so you can quickly give them updates about road conditions or delays. They can assist you in getting to your destination, picking up loads, or dropping off loads. 

Without effective communication practices in place, it’s easy for everyone to become frustrated. However, by getting on the same page, driving operations get back on track and running smoothly for successful deliveries.


Navigating Challenges and Problem-Solving

During your first year on the road, there is no doubt that you’ll run into challenges. You may run late, get a flat tire, have mechanical issues, or need to deal with an illness. Whatever the problem is, learning how to navigate the issue and overcome it with good problem-solving skills will help you make the most of your time in this industry.

With good problem-solving skills, you’ll be able to:

  • Identify a problem
  • Assess possible causes 
  • Come up with potential solutions


It’s also important that you have good lines of communication open with those who can help you, such as shippers, dispatchers, your manager, or other drivers who may be able to step in.

Early on in your first year, write down the resources that are available to you to fall back on. For example, you may have a mentor you can call if you run into a problem, or there might be a direct line for maintenance issues. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has general safe driving resources you can read over as well as other information on key rules and regulations you’ll need to adhere to. 

Finally, if you have any significant questions or concerns, have your employer’s name and contact information ready. Your direct supervisor or management team should be available to help guide you through most problems, especially when you’re new to the industry.

Where You Work Matters: Join Pride Transport

Finally, remember that the team you decide to work with does make a difference. Your first year could be extremely difficult if you’re working with a disorganized employer, but it may be much easier if you’re working with a mentor in a well-oiled workplace. 

At Pride Transport, we’re welcoming new drivers this year and are here to answer any questions you may have about our positions. Whether you’re interested in solo driving, team driving, getting additional driver training, or learning about our business’s family culture, we’re here to help.

pride transport truck driving on the road

Share this article