If you are entertaining the idea of becoming a truck driver or simply curious about the profession in general, you may be wondering what life and a typical day is like for a truck driver on the road. Although this is a profession that is absolutely essential to our modern society by facilitating the movement of goods around the world, few people actually take the time to reflect on what this job is actually like. In this article we will go over what a typical day is like for a trucker on the road. While being on the open road may sound appealing to some, being a truck driver does have some challenges that include working long hours, long periods of time away from home and family and difficult access to healthy food.
Getting An Early Start To The Day
If you follow along with most heavy haul truckers and their schedules, you’ll find that most like to get an early start and be on the road anywhere from 3am-5am. This actual time however will be dependent on the driver and requirements set for the job. As a trucker you will need to be aware of the weather and route conditions prior to getting started on the road. Be sure to thoroughly inspect your truck and equipment and complete any necessary logs before starting out on the road.
Once you hit the road, truckers are expected to keep a strict schedule while remaining alert to any possible delays like traffic or accidents that could affect the delivery schedule. Some things are simply out of your control like dangerous weather or having an equipment failure. Even with this, there are still expectations placed on the driver to make the delivery on time. This is why truckers must make every effort to reach their destination in a timely manner.
Transport companies aren’t the only ones concerned with how much time a trucker spends on the road. Federal regulations have come into place limiting the amount of time a driver is allowed to be on the road each day. The Department of Transportation requires truckers to implement electronic logging devices (ELD’s) on their trucks. This is a piece of hardware which connects to the vehicles engine and records the amount of hours driven per day with the clock beginning the moment the truck is started. These regulations limit the amount of time to 11 hours in which a driver can spend on the road each day. These restrictions place further pressures on drivers looking to complete their routes within this limited window of time.
Working Long Days
Most truck drivers work pretty long days. The length of your workday can vary based on the route and the availability of rest stops, weather, traffic or other hazards encountered on the road. The Department of Transportation permits truckers up to 11 hours of over the road (OTR) driving per day. This means a driver can legally work up to 11 hours every day and if you go over this limit penalties may be incurred. So let’s say you have about 9 hours of driving time. Your actual time on the road can actually be much higher due to the amount of breaks taken, stopping to rest, getting food etc, all of which can take away from your workday and drivable hours. It’s important to remember that as a truck driver you’re only making money if you are driving. Taking more breaks than necessary can not only extend your workday but also can cut into your profits if not carefully planned. Long haul truck drivers will be on the road for long periods of time, and even more so during their first year of service. Long haul truck drivers also tend to get preferential rates from trucking companies but this lifestyle can prove difficult for many new drivers. This is especially true when you have to go long periods away from home and without seeing your family.
Calling It A Night
As the evening approaches, truckers will already have spent a significant part of their day travelling on the road. You’ll soon be looking for a place to stop and turn in for the night. If you have a truck equipped with a sleeper cab you can just pull off at a rest stop and sleep in your truck for the night. If this is not available to you, other lodging preparations and access to facilities will be needed. Truck drivers will generally get some food, call their families and rest for the evening before having to get up and do it all over again in the morning.
Putting Everything Together
All together, the life of a trucker can be a challenging one. Truckers must endure a typically long workday that begins early and ends late. You can expect to be on the road for up to 11 hours a day while having to maintain a strict schedule and adjusting to the ever present risk of delay caused by any number of events. Most importantly, truckers must maintain a constant state of awareness at all times while driving which is easier said than done. Since truckers are paid for their actual driving time, there is constant pressure hanging over their head to get back to driving even when a break is taken.
The life of a trucker is mostly a solitary one. Their days are mostly spent alone with little human interaction. Most truckers try whenever possible to be with their families during their breaks or at the close of the day. This limited interaction with other people can be a challenge for many drivers and one of the biggest reasons why the trucking industry in general struggles to bring on new drivers with a CDL. The other reason is the long work days and extended periods away from family. Many professional haulers can spend weeks at a time away from loved ones making it especially difficult for younger drivers trying to raise their families.
While the life of a trucker presents many challenges, there are many great advantages and benefits available to working in this profession. Trucking still remains one of the best professions as far as earned income that is available to those without a college degree with little barrier to most wanting to enter the profession. This is especially true for those looking to enter the more specific car hauling industry. Many carriers these days are now addressing some of the difficult aspects of the job by making it more enticing for drivers to come on board. Carriers can now create better routes for truckers so they can be closer to home while offering more flexible pickup and delivery time frames. Every profession will have its pros and cons and driving trucks professionally is certainly no exception. Being able to understand what the life of a trucker is like informs not only the aspiring trucker about the industry but makes the rest of us aware and appreciative of the hard work they put in every day.