Getting started in truck driving

Getting started in truck driving, based on my experiences at least, isn't for the faint hearted.

There would be more ways to get started in this industry than there are ways to skin a Cat, or Detroit, or Cummins, before I get shouted down for appearing bias.

Personally, I have a long background in working with machinery having worked in the agricultural fields for many years. I have also done a lot of miles in rigid trucks carting horses all over the country. Knowing that I enjoy travelling and driving certainly added to my confidence about getting into the interstate trucking business.

Getting the licence is the easy bit, pay the money and do a couple of days driving around with an instructor and you're away.

Find someone who will hire you, bend over backwards, work for the experience if you have to and don't be disappointed if you end up in rough gear with a rough boss; it's a start. Don't be afraid to pound the pavement and knock on doors, a lot of operators don't advertise for drivers so don't wait for the Saturday paper. Also, go back, again and again often you'll get told no thanks a few times and you'll still get in down the track.

Always remember that you don't get the good gear by neglecting the older stuff.

Once you're in the seat, that's when you start to learn. Some of the difficult lessons I've learned include:

  • Wheel nuts can travel very fast straight at you when you undo a spider rim;
  • Roads that look good on maps aren't always good;
  • If you don't re-tighten wheel nuts after getting a new tyre fitted you wreck the rims, the hubs the lot;
  • Chain dogs can hurt;
  • Kangaroos don't bounce;
  • I don't bounce;
  • Loads do shift;
  • Lights don't always;
  • Sometimes you need to stand your ground, especially with public servants; and
  • A quick visit to the Roads and Traffic Authority never is.
So now you're probably wondering if this is the right job for you. Read the following phrases to help you decide:
  • I love to sleep.
  • I get bored easily.
  • I'm obsessive compulsive and inflexible in my attitudes.
  • I enjoy eating good food at regular times.
  • I like television.
  • I must have a coffee in the morning to be any use.
  • I like to argue.
  • I refuse to wait for anything.
  • I'm fastidious about arriving on time.
  • I will not use a dirty toilet.
  • I can't wait for a toilet.
  • I dislike traffic.
  • I must have two showers every day.
  • I get stressed easily.

If these phrases have ever been part of you vocabulary then you should think long and hard about your future in the transport industry.

If however you are happy to be away from home all week and don't mind a few hardships then there are rewards. You see a lot of the country, meet a lot of people (some of whom you wish you hadn't) and who can complain about sitting in an air conditioned office all day starring out the window as the scene constantly changes.

There is some of it I could do without but I enjoy it.

See you out there.