Truck drivers, also known as truckies, drive big trucks to move goods from one place to another, whether nearby, across the country or even to different countries. Their job makes each day different as they go to various places.
If you’re thinking about becoming a truck driver, understanding what the job is like can help you decide if it’s the right career for you. This article discusses a typical day for a truck driver and highlights some advantages of working in this role.
So put on your trucker hats and let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Defining long-haul driving
Trucking companies hire long-haul drivers, often called over-the-road (OTR) drivers, for trips longer than 250 miles. Being an OTR driver means:
- Spending days to weeks on the road
- Traveling more than 1,000 miles on highways
- These drivers play a crucial role in the supply chain, and their job is vital for the economy’s stability. When there aren’t enough drivers, prices for many things go up.
Long haul truck drivers – time at home, pay, and hours on the road
Before we dive into a truck driver’s day, let’s understand some key parts of their job. Most truck drivers get paid for each mile they drive and must keep track of their work hours.
Delays, like traffic, can affect their schedule, making them late for deliveries or running out of time to reach their destination. Here are more details:
How many miles do truck drivers drive a day?
Being a truck driver can be tricky because of delays. If you have a delivery 1,500 miles away, you need to plan when to take breaks and sleep. Safety rules don’t allow driving that whole distance without breaks. Electronic logs on the truck’s computer track the trip data to ensure safe driving. Depending on the driver, they may drive anywhere from 400-700 miles daily.
How many hours do truck drivers work?
After 10 hours of rest, a truck driver has an 11-hour limit for driving daily. They can’t drive beyond their 14th hour of duty and must take a 30-minute break every 8 hours of driving. Truckers also have limits on the total hours they can drive in a week, either 60 hours in 7 days or 70 hours in 8 days. These rules may not apply to short-haul drivers.
How often are truck drivers home?
Truck driving jobs vary, like local, regional, and over-the-road (OTR). Local drivers stay within a 250-mile radius and are usually home every night. Regional drivers cover a specific region and are home a few days each week. On the other hand, OTR drivers might be away from home for weeks, depending on their schedule.
What’s a day like for a long-haul truck driver?
A truck driver’s day involves a lot of planning, driving, and staying safe on the road. Truck drivers need to know the rules of the road in the places they drive and be aware of logistics to reach their destinations on time. Here’s a list of possible things a truck driver might do in a day to help you understand if you’d like this job:
Long-haul truck drivers begin their day early, usually at sunrise. They wake up in their truck’s sleeping area after a good night’s sleep. The morning routine involves cleaning up, having a quick breakfast, and checking their truck before hitting the road. This check is important to ensure everything in the truck works well for the long journey ahead.
Plan the day ahead
Truck drivers who start their day from home, not in the middle of a journey, might wake up early, depending on their upcoming trip and schedules at warehouses. They check the distance they’ll drive and figure out truck stops and resting places.
Next, they look for anything that might slow them down, like road closures, extreme weather, tolls, or restrictions on certain roads. They might let the warehouse know when they expect to arrive if they see any big challenges. This helps the warehouse prepare for the delivery, ensuring enough people to unload the truck without wasting time and resources.
Check trucks for safety
Truck drivers carefully inspect different parts of their trucks to ensure they are safe. Trucking companies usually give drivers a checklist, either on paper or digitally, that they must complete before starting their trips. Here are some common areas they check:
- Lights: Drivers ensure all the lights, like turn signals, headlights, taillights, and brake lights, work properly in different settings, such as dim, regular, full beam, and fog lights.
- Mirrors: Truckers clean, adjust, and replace side mirrors to ensure they can see well.
- Driving Functions: They check the steering wheel for looseness or stiffness, look at dashboard lights, test the horn, and inspect the brakes.
- Tires: This involves checking tire pressure tread depth, looking for punctures, and making sure there’s a spare tire.
- Windshield: Truck drivers make sure the wipers and windshield washer work and check for any chips or cracks that could be dangerous.
- Inspecting dock leveler springs during loading and unloading processes is an integral part of truck safety checks, guaranteeing optimal performance and minimizing potential hazards during operations.
Connecting with dispatchers
Staying connected is important. Long-haul truck drivers regularly talk to their dispatch teams using modern technology. This includes discussing changes to their route, getting weather updates, and ensuring they meet delivery deadlines.
Truck drivers carefully handle important documents for their deliveries. Bills of lading show details about the cargo, like what it is, how much there is, and where it’s going. Delivery receipts prove that the goods reached the right place. Drivers also deal with permits, inspection reports, and customs papers for border trips.
Liaising with customers
Good communication with customers or the people getting the delivery is key. Truck drivers tell customers when they expect to arrive so that everyone can be ready when the cargo arrives. This coordination ensures that unloading happens smoothly, meets specific requirements, and any issues get solved quickly.
Some truckers use their time on the road to keep learning. They might listen to podcasts about the trucking industry to stay updated on the latest trends, rules, and new ideas. They could also join online training sessions to improve their job, learn about safety rules, or find opportunities to advance in their trucking careers. Doing these things helps drivers stay informed and ready for changes in the trucking world.
When the day winds down, long-haul truck drivers look for a convenient place to park for the night, like a rest area or truck stop. Their evening routine involves checking the truck after the trip, making sure everything is secure, and settling down for a good night’s sleep in the sleeping area of the truck. Many truckers use technology or entertainment systems in their trucks to relax during their downtime.
Tips to make long-haul truck driving easier
Being a long-haul truck driver with good pay and high demand is exciting. The most challenging part is adapting to this intense lifestyle. Here are some tips to make your life as a long-haul trucker easier and more enjoyable:
- Start the day on time: Avoid spending the whole day trying to catch up.
- Consider a pet: If your trucking company allows, having a pet can be a great companion.
- Listen to audiobooks and podcasts: Entertaining audio content makes your day less boring.
- Preplan your trip: Be ready for the day by planning.
- Take your time: Keep your eyes and ears open, prioritize safety, and don’t rush for a few extra dollars.
- Exercise: Fit in a workout at night or in the morning, even if it means bringing weights.
- Pull over if tired: Take a break if you’re sleepy. Safety comes first.
- Be patient: Long days on the road involve a lot of waiting.
- Communicate with family: Set expectations so your family knows when they’ll see you next.
- Maintain a safe distance: Always keep a safe space between your truck and the one in front.
- Connect with other truckers: Talk to fellow drivers at truck stops for advice and camaraderie.
Are you ready to choose your long-haul path?
Being a truck driver can be tough, but it’s also satisfying. Remember, your experience as a truck driver is what you make of it. Some see it as a chance to explore the country, meet new friends, and enjoy freedom. Others might find it lonely and demanding. It varies from person to person. If you’re considering this job, stay open-minded and ready for anything.
Life on the road brings surprises, both good and bad. Ultimately, it’s your choice of how you want to live your life as a truck driver. The trucking career is special and depends on the people and company you’re with.