“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” says Charles Dickens. He was describing - well, whatever. One point of the book is that two things can be true at the same time. At Eagle Logistics, we feel like that here in the trucking industry. The same features that make trucking difficult can also make it life-giving, and vice versa. For example, a beautiful, awe-inspiring sunset over a mountain ridge can make each mile worth it, yet that same sunset can also signify another night away from home. For new drivers this good/bad combo is even more present. Every stretch of highway is both exciting because it’s new and challenging because it’s new. Well, at Eagle Logistics we’ve been where you are - truckers green on the vine - so we put together some tips for new truck drivers that may save you some worst of times and yield more best of times.
Being a new driver, you likely aren’t used to long periods of time away from loved ones, which can be taxing on the spirits and strain relationships. Therefore, be sure to plan time with them when you have it. You may not get the time you want - for example you may miss several of your niece’s soccer games - so you’ll need to maximize and schedule time with her. You need to control your calendar or it will control you. Poker night, church, drinks with a friend, chores, and many other important activities can be lost to the road. Fight for them.
It’s ironic that you’ll have less time in many ways, but in others you will have way more than you’re used to having. Search for podcasts when you’re not driving so that you can have them when you do have time. Same goes for audiobooks that may need to be downloaded. Talk radio schedules are good to know - as are your preferred radio stations along the route. So one of the best tips for new truck drivers is that any preparations to make your driving time better are time well spent. Taking the time to eat healthy and exercise can be the difference between surviving and thriving on the road, so manage and maximize your time.
You’ll likely find that you are making less money as a newbie than you had hoped. The reason for that is because the trucking industry highly favors experience (new drivers statistically have expensive accidents more often) and most believe in rewarding people for their loyalty. Therefore, the more experienced drivers often get paid more and they also get the better jobs, such as longer drives that pay better or have quicker and easier loading and unloading. All of that adds up to create a disparity of wages. But...pay your dues and trucking can be a lucrative venture.
You may scrape the trailer, bend a pole, uproot some hedges, clip a sign, or bury some tires. It happens and it happens more often when drivers are new. You may get lost, you may unload the wrong items, you may not manage your caffeine intake and find yourself too sleepy to drive safely or unable to sleep. On average a new driver is more prone to mistakes, so don’t give up just because you’re not perfect. The people you see that seem to have it all together are just beginners who never quit.
It’s such a shame we often wish away our days. We think if we can just get through the week, we’ll be happy. Or when I own my own truck, I’ll be happy. Or, when I get to choose my own loads, I’ll be happy. But there’s always some reason to not appreciate your present. One of the best tips for new truck drivers we can give is to smell the roses. You will see some beautiful sights, as well as strange and intriguing subcultures, and you’ll meet some really cool people. Watch out that you don’t miss the good stuff because you’re grumbling over temporary problems. So meet new people, listen to some edifying books, breathe in the coffee, and just live a little.
Truck driving can be tough and great, both. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and others, which can be good, but the downside is you’ll learn a lot about yourself and others. Your first year will be both encouraging to you as well as humbling, rewarding as well as taxing, and - if you don’t give up - lucrative, life-giving, and secure as well as challenging.
Eagle Logistics is always on the lookout for great drivers. Our pitch to you is that here you’ll be treated with dignity, like a teammate and not a number. Our workplace culture is healthy and positive and we would love to bring new drivers into our fold. So contact us if you’re interested. We can’t take out all the downsides to your first year as a truck driver, but we can walk through them with you!