Truck driver jobs pay well, and they are in very high demand, so why aren’t more people taking them? In his memoir “The Long Haul: A Trucker’s Tales of Life on the Road,” Finn Murphy demonstrates that truckers have their own world, with its own challenges and customs. Reading about Murphy’s adventures and perils as a long-distance truck driver will inspire some people to take up truck driving and convince others that it is not for them. Most interestingly of all, it defies stereotypes; most people don’t think of truckers as excessively clean and tidy, but Murphy certainly seems to break this stereotype. Enlightening as it is, Murphy’s story represents only one person’s experience. If a journalist were to spend a month at a truck stop, he would certainly end up with many stories about the world of truckers that would surprise readers.
If you are considering a career as a truck driver, then you have probably read the articles about trucker slang and already realize that professional truck drivers are a diverse group of people. Exactly how difficult it actually is to drive a truck for the living and what are the challenges you will face on the job? Here are five common misconceptions about the work of professional truck drivers:
1. Truck Drivers Have Extraordinarily Long Work Days
Driving a multi-ton vehicle at high speeds requires sustained concentration, and it is difficult to drive a truck safely if you are tired. Truck drivers do sometimes drive in the middle of the night, but it does not necessarily mean that they have been behind the wheel all day. They might choose to drive at night because they are naturally nocturnal or because there is less traffic, allowing them to cover more ground in a shift. The Department of Transportation is well aware of the need for truck drivers to get adequate rest and the risks of allowing drivers on the road when they are likely to get tired and distracted. The maximum length of a workday for a truck driver is 14 hours, and the driver must rest at least 10 hours between shifts. Drivers must also take breaks during their shifts; a driver cannot drive more than 11 consecutive hours without a break. The maximum number of hours one truck driver can drive in a week is 77 hours.
2. Drivers Are Always Responsible for Maintaining Their Own Trucks
The option exists for truck drivers to be self-employed and to work as independent contractors. If you own your own truck, then you are responsible for its maintenance. Keeping a truck roadworthy can be a big job; a small problem with the truck can be very dangerous. Truck drivers who drive company-owned trucks tend to bear less responsibility for the maintenance of the truck. Big trucking companies have employees whose entire job is truck maintenance and other employees whose entire job is driving.
3. Learning to Drive a Truck Is Prohibitively Expensive
Driving a truck certainly requires a very high level of skill. Simply knowing how to drive a car does not qualify you to transport tons of freight from one side of the United States to the other. Becoming certified to drive a truck requires a considerable amount of training. The good news is that, because qualified truck drivers are in such high demand, some companies will pay for all or part of your training. That said, the training course to become certified to drive a truck is quite rigorous. It involves 160 hours of instruction and hands-on training. The training takes place over a period of several weeks to several months. It includes classroom instruction plus practical training working with parked vehicles. Trainee truck drivers must also spend a certain number of hours driving a truck on the highway, under the supervision of a truck driving instructor. In addition to completing the training course, drivers must pass a physical exam and a drug test.
4. All Truck Drivers Are Men
When most people outside the truck driving industry think of a truck driver, they imagine the driver being male. In reality, 200,000 women work as truck drivers in the United States. Like many other professions previously open only to men, truck driving is seeing more and more participation from women.
5. Truck Drivers Have Higher Rates of Addiction and Substance Abuse Than Most Other Professions
If you have seen too many crime dramas, you are probably familiar with the stereotype of truck stops being a reliable place to score some drugs. There is also an unfortunate stereotype of truck drivers as leading a lonely existence where there is nothing to do but drink. Actually, truck drivers as a group do not have unusually high rates of alcohol and drug abuse. The rates are probably actually lower, because truck drivers must take drug tests so frequently. Trucking companies do everything they can to ensure that drivers are not working while impaired. If they are careful not to let drivers operate trucks when they are too tired, they are even stricter about not letting them drink and drive. Because of mandated periods of rest, truck drivers do not have reason to consume anything stronger than coffee or Red Bull to stay alert during their shifts.
Driving a truck can be a lucrative and fun job. Although it requires you to spend long periods of time away from home, you get to see the world and meet lots of interesting people. To be a successful truck driver, you must have a strong work ethic and consistently drive safely. Within those categories, though, truck drivers encompass people of all different personalities and backgrounds.
Steel Pro is a company dedicated to the transportation and warehouse storage of steel and other metals. Steel Pro is always in need of qualified, reliable drivers. If you are considering learning the profession of truck driving, a job transporting steel could be waiting for you.