Life on the road can be challenging for truck drivers. We’ve all heard stories of icy roads, traffic pile-ups and delays, equipment failures, bad road food, and long, grueling hours.
But that’s not the whole picture. While any of these adversities may plague a truck driver at one time or another, for the most part, if you work for a decent company and are well organized in your personal and professional habits, truck driving can be an interesting and rewarding career.
What’s more, it may be a bit of a cliché, but truck drivers really do experience a lot more freedom than most people do in their working life. There’s just something liberating about tooling down the open road, enjoying the change of scenery and the variety of experiences the driving life can provide.
As many of the pros will tell you, truck driving life is what you make it. Here are some of the ways truck drivers in the know make the most out of a commercial driving career.
The Trucking Life: Is it Right For You?
Traffic: Yes, there can be pile-ups, accidents, bad drivers, and foul weather. You may have to spend part of your day weaving and winding your way through city streets, into challenging parking lots, and maneuvering into position up to busy docks. But when you’re done, there’s nothing like heading out onto the open road and enjoying the scenery as it passes in the window. If you’re someone who hates being cooped up in an office building, the best aspect of a truck driving job may be the changing landscape.
Comforts: By taking the time to create a comfortable, clean space in your cab, you could make your life on the road more enjoyable. For instance, providing yourself with nice, comfortable bedding makes it a pleasure to go to sleep, after you’ve pulled over and parked in a safe rest area or truck stop.
And about those truck stops and rest areas: You will get to know the best ones the longer you drive.
You could equip your cab with a microwave or a 12-volt cooker. You can also carry home-cooked meals in an electronic cooler, thus saving money and eating more healthfully while on the road. Save the dining out to reward yourself now and then. Hint: It’s a good idea to pull over early, say by 7 p.m., so you can get a good parking spot, a full night’s sleep, and be on the road early. You can beat a lot of traffic by getting on the road before 8 or 9 a.m.
Stay Organized: The more organized you are with your trucking life, the better experience you will have. For instance, plan each day to include a pre-trip and post-trip inspection, to make sure your truck is in good order before and after you get out on the road. Finish up any paper work for the day, whether on your own or the company’s computer. Check the cargo to make sure it is secure.
Every day can be different for a trucker, depending on if you’re dropping off a trailer and picking up another load to take to a shipper, having to wait at a loading dock until the cargo is off loaded, or spending the day driving to your destination. Regardless, plan for no more than the federally allotted limit of driving hours: 14 hours on duty following 10 hours off duty. Schedule a 30-minute break in your driving day to stretch, walk around, or relax from the road.
Make the Most of Your Job: Whenever possible, break up the monotony by stopping to see a famous site or enjoying a meal at a notable restaurant, or perhaps just winding down in the evening with a good DVD or book. Maybe you enjoy playing games or working on your computer, by means of a data plan on your cell phone that turns it into an internet hotspot. Truck driving can be stressful, and planning something fun and relaxing can help you avoid burnout.
Truck Driver Education Before You Earn Your CDL
While no formal training is needed to be a truck driver, enrolling in a good course through a vocational school can be helpful in obtaining your CDL (commercial driver license), as well as preparing you for the rigors of commercial driving.
A driving course, which may last from six to 12 weeks, will teach you rules of the road, driving safety, customer service skills, operational procedures, vehicle maintenance, transportation of hazardous materials, and issues involving substance abuse. A course may also teach the student how to become proficient in parking, backing, and shifting.
Are You Ready to Get Started Today?
Want to learn more about a career in truck driving? Contact Advanced Technology Institute today for more information about our Tractor-Trailer Driving certificate program. Don’t wait, the open road is calling!