“Professional Truck Driver” – What It Means To Me


With over 34 years in the industry, O'Neal offers great advice on starting a trucking career. Read more from

The definition of a professional truck driver is a discussion that comes up frequently in class. Being a professional means more than just having your CDL. It’s presenting the company in a positive way. It’s doing your job with pride and making sure everything is executed correctly. Today, I’m going to talk a little bit about what this term means to me, as a C1 Truck Driver Training school director.

What is a “professional truck driver?”

I believe that the true meaning of a “professional truck driver” varies among the general public depending on the experience level and exposure one has had to the transportation or trucking industry. Personally, I think that the most important factor in being a professional truck driver begins with the driver’s attitude. Just because a driver passes a CDL test does not mean they are a professional truck driver or behave like one. The most important of all is the driver’s attitude — that starts with safety. Being a safe, professional driver is the mindset that each and every time a driver gets in their truck, they are going to be safe and courteous. In order to be a true professional, this behavior must be done regularly and on a consistent basis. In addition, a professional truck driver always represents their company and fellow drivers in a commendable fashion through efficient service and excellent performance.

It all starts with safety

Safety plays a significant role in a truck driver’s daily performance. Every day, safety starts with the driver completing a pre-trip inspection of his or her tractor and trailer. This ensures that the driver’s equipment is functioning properly and that they are not endangering themselves or the general public. Each day, a true professional truck driver manages their time through efficient trip planning and by logging their travel routes in compliance with Department of Transportation guidelines. Again, this is to ensure that the driver is well-rested, safe, and alert enough to perform their daily job requirements. Every time the driver logs on-duty, a true professional driver stays in compliance with DOT regulations and follows rules according to company policies.

Presenting yourself as a professional

Truck driver

In my opinion, a true professional truck driver always handles themselves in a commendable manner in every facet of business. A true “professional truck driver” communicates well with both their carrier and their customers. This is accomplished by providing commendable, on-time pick-up and delivery service to customers. In addition, a true professional driver communicates well with their dispatch operation as soon as a problem develops which could possibly delay service to their customers. As stated earlier, another important behavior of a true professional is the driver’s daily over-the-road performance. A true professional consistently abides by the laws of the road and is a courteous driver to the general public. A true professional maintains their equipment and keeps themselves and their equipment neat, clean, and presentable. They represent their company favorably by presenting a good company image, and they consistently provide exceptional service that not only meets, but exceeds company expectations.

Remember, being a professional truck driver is not just about having your CDL. It’s about presenting yourself in a positive light at all times. YOU are the one out there representing your company, which means you must be on your absolute best behavior at all times. Represent your company well, and people will perceive you as a professional.

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  • Tryndon

    It all comes down to driving with respect to all others on the road! If you do this it will show your professionalism and skill as a Driver.

  • c1training

    Great point, Tryndon!  Respecting others on the road is a must if you want to be a true professional.