Truckers are an essential part of our modern society. America depends on truckers for the transportation of food, fuel and life’s essentials. Hospitals need medicine and critical, life-saving supplies, industries need materials, and retail stores need supplies and merchandise. We depend on truckers for the the things that enable our basic survival.
But what does the life of a truck driver look like?
Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers transport goods from one location to another, over routes that could be local, span several states or coast-to-coast. Typical job duties include:
- Driving safely and adhering to a schedule.
- Inspecting trailers before and after trips and recording any defects found
- Maintaining a log of working hours and following all federal and state regulations
- Reporting serious mechanical problems to the appropriate personnel
- Keeping trucks and associated equipment clean and in good working order
Depending on the route, drivers may have an opportunity to see the country. They may drive highways from coast to coast or work in a specific region. And it is often more than a job, it’s a lifestyle. Long haul truckers, those who drive across several states or regions of the country, can be away from home (and their families) for days or weeks at a time. The job can be physically and mentally demanding because drivers are alone much of the time and driving for hours at a time can be exhausting. Also, depending on the schedule, truck drivers can often work nights, weekends, and holidays.
Truck driving is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and there are guidelines in place to protect drivers as well as others on the road. A long-haul truck driver is not allowed to work more than 14 straight hours, comprising up to 11 hours spent driving and the remaining time spent doing other work, such as unloading cargo. Drivers also are limited to driving no more than 60 hours within 7 days or 70 hours within 8 days. Then drivers must take 34 hours off before starting another 7- or 8-day run.
Truck Driving School
Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers usually have a high school diploma and attend a professional truck driving school to learn the skills needed. During truck driving school students take training courses to learn to maneuver these large vehicles on highways or through narrow streets. Students also learn the federal laws and regulations governing interstate truck driving. Programs typically last between 3 and 6 months. Upon finishing classes, drivers receive a certificate of completion and will need to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
After completing truck driving school and being hired by a company, drivers normally receive between 1 and 3 months of on-the-job training. During this time, they drive a truck accompanied by a more experienced mentor–driver in the passenger seat. This training allows new drivers to obtain more experience and become more comfortable with, the specific type of truck they will drive and material they will transport.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the job prospects for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers to be very good, with a growth rate of 5% over the next several years. According to the American Trucking Association’s 2019 report, (https://www.trucking.org/news-insights/ata-releases-updated-driver-shortage-report-and-forecast) in order to meet the nation’s growing freight demand, the trucking industry will need to hire 1.1 million new drivers over the next decade to replace retiring drivers and keep up with growth in the economy.
Now, don’t you want to learn more about this exciting and growing career field?