Military CDL Programs

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How to Survive Your First Year as a Truck Driver

May 18, 2021

As a veteran moving into a new career as a truck driver, your first year might be a tough one. It would be wise to already expect that when going in. While there is not one piece of advice that will make everything better, you can look out for the following and be prepared in advance. That way your first year isn’t so rough. 


You Will Probably Get Lost–And That’s Okay 

Even if you are normally good with directions, you haven’t been everywhere and will probably end up getting lost at least once during your first year. What can you do? Prepare for it. Familiarize yourself with the route before your trips. Also, avoid using Google maps or a car-based GPS unless it can show you trucking routes, which are different from normal routes for small cars. You don’t want to get stuck under a low bridge or in a tight subdivision. Also remember that if you do happen to get lost, don’t panic. Panic typically causes you to may bad decisions. Such decisions can cause either a wreck or you getting even more lost. You can either call your shipper for better directions or call out to a local driver on the CB who will know the area better and can direct you back onto your route. 


Yes, You Will Need Plenty of Rest 

You’re probably thinking “sleep is for the weak.” Don’t make this mistake and put others at risk. Driving when fatigue is the number one cause for accidents. Do yourself a favor and take short naps as needed and go to bed when you feel yourself getting tired. 


Treat Yourself Occasionally 

Speaking of favors, it’s okay to treat yourself every once in a while. You deserve it. Book a hotel room occasionally. Visit a good buffet and take the time to relax and socialize at truck stops. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself wondering where your life went. Live it a little. 


Keep in Touch with Humanity 

Being a truck driver means being alone. A lot. Find ways to keep in touch with other people, both strangers, and your family. During your home time, spend at least an hour or two alone with your spouse in addition to family time. This isn’t your time to unload all your worries on them. Make it into a date night. Plan to do something and not waste it on doing something else less important. 


Think Before You Quit 

When you’re cold, tired, and hungry, you might end up wanting to quit. Even if everything seems to be going horribly, wait it out until a good day to rethink the decision about whether or not to end your truck driving career. Also, give it a chance. At least a year, if you just want to switch companies. A year of experience will provide a good base for your career to be able to move on.  

If you are a military veteran searching for a new career, you should strongly consider becoming a professional truck driver. CDL Vet has the resources you need to learn more about trucking schools and companies in your area.