There is a lot to be said for getting your CDL and being employed to drive an 18 wheeler or a similar sized vehicle. The amount of responsibility is more than many people can fathom, but being able to take to the open road makes it all worth it. Driving is serious business for anyone, but if you’re driving a CMV, then that responsibility is greatly exponentialized. Before you start your CDL classes, here are some things you need to take into consideration before deciding on this as a career.
According to truck-drivers-money-saving-tips.com, “Those desiring a CDL must pass a General Knowledge test and a Skills test, the latter of which proves that the driver can demonstrate stopping, backing, making turns, driving on city and highway roads, and weaving a truck through a ‘serpentine’ course.”
Some of the most important things to consider when it comes to safely operating a CMV are:
- Space Cushion: In order for mirrors on trucks to reflect all that they do, there is some distortion. This means that you’ll need to know how the space displayed by the mirror translates into space in the physical world. Every side view mirror on every vehicle warns “objects are closer than they appear” you should listen to that warning.
- Trip Planning: Do your research before you hit the road, especially if you are entering unfamiliar territory. Some things to consider are traffic, weather, construction, etc. Knowing what you’re getting yourself into will help you manage your trip more optimally and ensure that whatever you are delivering gets to its destination undamaged and on time. This also includes allotting time for breaks. As soon as you start to feel drowsy, you should pullover.
- Speed: This is not a job for speed demons. DO NOT SPEED. PERIOD. JUST DON’T DO IT. It takes longer to accelerate and decelerate your vehicle than a regular car. “Speeding was the #1 factor involved in fatal large truck crashes in 2009” according to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Have you ever heard the song “30,000 Pounds of Bananas” by Harry Chapin? If so, you know how serious this is. If not, listen to it.
What all of this means is that the best truck drivers are very aware of their surroundings and have amazing depth perception. They are good at realistically planning. If you are someone who says they are on their way somewhere when you haven’t even left the house yet, then this might not be the job for you. Lastly, if you pride yourself on making great time when you drive, then you might be better suited as an Uber or taxi driver than a truck driver. There is just too much at stake to risk speeding.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, just like a job in any other industry, you will have to pay your dues. As a truck driver, that means it will be difficult to land a nice local job from the get go, but if you’re someone who loves driving, freedom, and solitude, then after a few years you could work bankers hours and get to go home every night while earning an annual salary similar to someone who holds a bachelor’s degree, but without the student loans. Like any other career choice, it’s not a decision that can be made overnight, but as previously stated there are explicit skill sets and interests that make some people better cut out for the job than others. Interest and knowledge of working parts can also be extremely helpful for this career. To learn more about the vehicles you’d be driving, check out our other posts! Any and all research can help you decide if this is the right job for you.