Over 5% of all full-time jobs in America belong to truck drivers. No matter what your driving habits are, you probably pass them daily. Perhaps you're nervous as they pass; perhaps you get irritated by their slower speeds... but have you ever wondered what life for a trucker's really like? Truckers have a unique lifestyle - something to ponder on next time you're stuck in traffic and you have one blocking your view.
Precise driving schedules vary from driver to driver. Some have a regular route that allows them to stick to a pattern, but others don't know what their schedule will look like from one week to the next. They might be told to drive to a new destination or take a new route, and they might be asked to haul different freight from usual. Even once a driver knows their route, it can be difficult for them to plan their day, which can be affected by loading times, parking and freight drop-off. They may be driving all day, or they may have to wait at the shipper for their freight to be loaded or unloaded.
Life in a truck
Although many drivers return home at the end of a shift, long drives require them to sleep in their trucks. You may have noticed that some trucks have sleeper compartments, where truckers on overnight hauls will rest between drives. Most are fitted with mattresses, and a number also have refrigerators, microwaves and TVs. Rest is extremely important for the safety of long haul drivers, so those creature comforts make all the difference. In fact, truck accident lawyers report that a large number of accidents involving large haulage vehicles occur because of unusual hours and extended shifts. Drivers are only permitted to drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty, as per the FMCSA guidelines, which makes a huge difference to their safety on the road.
The challenge of a healthy lifestyle
We hear a lot about the effect of desk jobs on our health and well-being, but truck drivers face similar concerns. The trucking industry has been focusing on this for a while, and there are many initiatives in place to help truckers stay healthy on the road. Now that onboard amenities have improved, long-haul truckers are better equipped to cook themselves healthy meals, but exercise can be difficult to fit in when they're on the road all day, potentially arriving at their destination after dark. In one 2011 study, 20% of truck drivers reported not having been able to exercise in the past week. However, with the health and well-being of truckers being so important to their safety on their job, many managers are actively seeking ways to improve the healthy living opportunities for their drivers.
For long-haul drivers, trucking is more than a job: it's a lifestyle. For most of us, trucks are a minor irritation on the roads, but for some, they're a home from home, and spending long hours on the road is a whole way of life.