Trucking is a difficult profession to be in. Most people think of trucking as a money-minting job full of adventure and fun. But is it really that fun? Well, it may be fun but it’s not easy. People spend their entire lives in the trucking business, hauling loads, delivering stacks and knowing their country’s road network better. These truckers are the wheels of the economy. The country needs truck drivers who have experience and know their job left-right and center.
Trucking is definitely more of a lifestyle than just a profession or industry. Trucking is a different way of life which has its own perks as well as challenges. The love of trucks and the thrill of spending most of your time driving on the endless roads of America might be pulling you towards itself, but are you sure you know what a trucker’s life is like?
Maybe it’s time now for you to know some things that most people don’t know about the trucking lifestyle.
Let’s get started…
A truck driver must choose his run based on his life’s situations and requirements. For someone with wife and young kids, it’s not easy to be away for days if not weeks. But in the same case, if there is a financial crisis in the family, then that same driver might choose higher paying runs like long hauls with difficult loads.
For young unmarried truck drivers, it’s best to go for long high paying hauls. More time on the road means more money. This can help him earn more than most of his age and secure his future endeavors and plans.
For people who are unable to find their peace and solitude in their family, truck driving can be a good career option. It helps them in finding the perfect work-life balance.
There are mainly three types of runs:
This is a possibly 9-5 job. The local runs are easiest as they do not require long hours of non-stop driving to far away destinations.
Dedicated runs ensure routines. Fixed routes and fixed schedules help the truck drivers return back home every day after work or at least after every couple of days, regularly.
The most difficult and exhausting runs are the long runs. Long hauls drive the drivers away from their homes for days and weeks together. OTR Hauls are challenging as well as stressful. With too much uncertainty and too many issues to deal with, they not only affect people’s lives and families, but also change them.
Long hauls have their advantages and disadvantages. They are difficult for one’s mind and body, but they also increase one’s mental and physical endurance. And they are definitely better paying.
Overall, the choice of run is largely the trucker’s decision. His choice of run defines his structure of life and his style of working.
A truck’s cabin is a truck driver’s home away from home. He spends most of his time in the truck’s cabin. All his personal belongings stay in the truck’s cabin. A trucker lives where he works.
Truck cabins are like mini-apartments.
Truck cabins are equipped with features that make a trucker’s job and life easier. The GPS System always keeps the truck on the map so that it’s trackable all the time. The CB radios, Wi-Fi, tablets and smartphones help a lonely driver to connect with his family, friends, fellow truckers, employer and customer.
Some modern trucks even have a sleeping quarter and a mini-mobile kitchen. The kitchen is equipped with a mini-refrigerator, microwave and other cooking gear. It enables the trucker to cook his own food and switch to healthier food options.
The video below shows the new Volvo VNL 2018 trucks that make a long-haul trucker as efficient as he can be. The new Volvo trucks are the safest and most efficient for long hauls. They ensure a comfortable ride and a comforting good night’s sleep to the truck driver, and hence increase his productivity and improve his performance.
We all know about the Evolution Theory and the concept of “Survival of The Fittest”.
Adaption is a time-consuming process. But the most adaptable people always have the best chances of survival. Truck drivers start with one type of truck, they practice driving that one truck, then they master that particular type of truck. But the challenge does not end there. They then try different types of trucks and master them. Then comes the challenge of roads, loads, terrains and weather changes. But the hurdles do not end here either.
Truckers also have to deal with the DOT, traffic and safety regulations along with meeting their deadlines. Most importantly, the truck driver has to take care of his truck and the cargo in any and all kinds of situations.
Being tough and trained is still not enough to excel in the trucking profession, experience plays a crucial role. A new truck driver is new to his employer, new to his fellow truck drivers, and new to the customers. In such a case, it’s not surprising for him to get to deal with the most difficult routes and the most difficult customers.
Life of a trucker is nomadic in nature. Getting used to a flexible routines and stressful situations take more will power and courage than one would imagine. People with set sleep patterns find their bodies fighting them all the time when put into such working conditions.
Permits and licenses for inter-state driving and for hauling difficult loads are not an easy game. They are not impossible to acquire, but the process definitely takes time. Considering the responsibility of handling fluids and chemicals and oversized loads on the open roads, there are a lot of tests and parameters to ensure the ability and compliance of the truck driver.
Everything is new when you start your career as a truck driver. New ways of life, new language, new roads, new people, new loads, new routines, new rules, new challenges and new stresses.
Adapting to the trucker’s way of life takes time. First time, everything is new. Second time, you have experience. Third time, you are a pro. The learning curve might be a bit steep but it still heads upwards.
A truck driver can have a routine to function around, but its contingent upon a lot of uncertain factors. We can just say that a trucker’s life is complex, with a constant component (real part) and a variable (imaginary part).
A long haul driver spends about 300 days on the road, driving about a 150,000 miles per year. That means on an average he drives 500 miles per day. Out of the 14 hour driving-window, a trucker drives for almost 11 hours each day.
He has a pattern of doing things. His tasks following the same checklist everyday- shower, coffee, route planning, long drives, food and rest stops, weighing scale visits, truck and cargo maintenance, correspondence with employer and customer, and unwinding after the long day of work.
The monotonous part can sometimes be the most thrilling part. Talking to family and friends, seeing familiar friendly faces, stopping at favorite stops, warm cups of coffee, a warm soothing shower at a clean truck stop, and a good satisfying meal. One cannot deny their basic needs. An absurd schedule and a challenging job can maybe affect the ways of life, but not tamper them completely.
Changing destinations and schedule updates are the most flexible part of any truck driver’s routine. Changes in weather, cargo inspection, truck repairs and maintenance, and other unexpected circumstances can cause delays. With a lot of factors to consider and evaluate, there can be problematic and challenging situations that require immediate attention. That’s a part of a truck driving job.
Truck drivers lead a sedentary lifestyle. Inadequate physical activity and long hours of sitting in an alert position can cause chronic back problems. It’s not always possible to walk or stretch whenever you feel physical discomfort in a trucking job. With a 80,000 pound truck to steer, truckers cannot pull over at any rest station, unless it’s meant for heavy vehicles.
Dispatch delays and approaching deadlines force truck drivers to avoid their health and personal needs. The cargo delivery on time is their main objective. Giving away a night’s sleep is no big deal for a truck driver. Sleep deprivation causes health problems. Soggy eyes, disturbed metabolism, diseases and other health issues arise out of a disturbed lifestyle.
Truck drivers mostly eat fast food on the move. They avoid stopping for meals to save time and hence, they live on either convenience store snacks or other unhealthy food options available at the rest stops.
Long shifts and stressful driving jobs can cause extreme levels of drowsiness and depression. Solitude and loneliness are good, but if one has to live alone for days, or even weeks, it can get to the mind. Truck drivers can easily get depressed if they are too attached and used to living with their family and friends and hate to spend time alone.
One must have a strong mind and resolve to ensure good health on the trucking job. Avoiding junk food and being selective about the food choices can really help. The modern trucks are equipped with mini-refrigerators and microwaves. Truck drivers can carry thawed meals in the truck and cook them whenever they think it’s time for food.
There are serious life risks in a trucking job. The health and life insurance are a must for any trucker. Road accidents have fatality risks and can cause irreparable injuries. Also, there is a high risk of work injury.
Good paying trucking jobs are not for the weak. Truck driving jobs bring all kinds of stresses to the trucker. Being solely responsible for the truck and the truckload on the road, a trucker must be prepared for hurdles of all sorts.
Sitting for long periods of time without much movement is not healthy for the human spine. But the trucker has to deal with this problem all the time. There is not much physical activity in a trucker’s life and it results in health problems like obesity and heart attack.
The long shifts require much patience. A truck driver needs to focus and concentrate all the time while driving. One second of distraction can cost many people’s lives. He must drive safe while dealing with all sorts of problems, challenges and distractions. This requires high mental fortitude and stress-enduring capability.
A trucker must always deliver the truckload on time. He has to stay in constant touch with the employer and the customer. Meeting deadlines, following schedules and completing targets is definitely a stressful job.
Just like two sides of a coin, freedom and solitude are two different aspects of a truck driver’s life. While some drivers enjoy the freedom and independence that comes with their job, some succumb to the long lasting loneliness and get depressed.
A truck driver works alone. He does not have any partners or friends or family when he is working. A truck driver may connect with his people, but he is still alone. And he does not have the leisure of having company. Some drivers hate it and some love it. Introvert people love spending time with themselves. If you are the contemplating one, truck driving is the perfect job for you.
Not all people know about a trucker’s life inside-out. It’s important to know a profession before heading towards it. So what do you think? Is the trucking profession meant for you? Are you ready for it?