CDL Training and the “Professional” Truck Driver


Born and raised in trucking, Campbell is passing his years of experience along as C1 Director. Read more from

What does the phrase, “professional truck driver” really mean? Understanding the meaning of the term is a good starting point for new and inexperienced drivers. I would like to take a moment to briefly explain my viewpoint on the the matter and how I present it to CDL training students at the C1 Springfield campus.

The definition of a professional truck driver

Professional Truck Driver

What is a professional truck driver? That’s a question that comes up often – both literally and figuratively.  At this point in your CDL training, you know what the job description of a professional driver is, so I’m going to spend some time discussing the proper attitude that comes with being a professional driver.  A positive attitude is the foundation to everything that you do in this business.  Taking pride in your profession is crucial to your success in the trucking industry.  You must embrace each and every day with a “can-do” spirit. You need to believe that no matter what may lay in front of you, you will succeed.  That is the attitude that makes a truck driver successful. You must always tell yourself, “I will pick up and deliver all freight as promised, in a safe and professional manner.”

Safety comes first

Safety comes first in all that we do here at C1.  This is an inherently dangerous profession that you’re getting into.  There are so many moving parts and pieces that you’re in control of. There are an enormous amount of outside influences that you have no control of. As you’ve learned during your CDL training, these all play a role in doing your job safely.  The Smith System of defensive driving plays a huge part in making sure that you accomplish your job as safely as possible.  A positive attitude and being extremely safety conscious are two key ingredients in defining the professional truck driver.

Image and presentation are everything

Is there a uniform for the professional truck driver?  In some cases yes, but in most cases, no.  But you need to take it upon yourself to present yourself in the most professional way possible.  You are an ambassador for your company.  You are the face that 90 percent of the public will encounter as the person hauling that freight out there.  The shippers and receivers have no idea who the dispatchers or the load planners are.  They will never meet the people that work in safety.  You are your company’s representative, and you must accept and embrace that role with pride.  Look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Would I hire that person?”  Regardless of how skilled you may be at your job, if you present yourself in a poor fashion, you will be perceived in a poor fashion.  Perception is reality.

I have received a handful of calls here at C1 Springfield from the general public regarding issues with our trucks.  These typically concern a light out, or something of a general nature that a good Samaritan would tell you about.  I once took a call from a gentleman that wanted to complain about following one of our trucks.  He felt that the truck was impeding traffic, and therefore was a danger to the road.  I explained to him that there were CDL training students in the truck under instruction, and that things were well under control.  The man became belligerent and proceeded to tell me that in all his years of trucking, he has never made a mistake like that.  I thanked him and politely ended the call.  Now, he may have been the best truck driver who ever lived, but he presented himself in an unprofessional and ignorant fashion that reflected poorly on the trucking industry.  Always take a moment to think of how you present yourself.  As they say, “first impressions are lasting impressions.”

Final thoughts

I hope that after reading this, you have a better understanding of what exactly it means to be a professional truck driver. It’s about being the representative of your carrier company and accepting that role with pride and satisfaction. It’s about presenting yourself in a respectable and positive way by delivering all freight safely and professionally.

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