Truck drivers are often referred to as the backbone of America. They haul roughly 70% of America’s freight. Nearly every good consumed in the United States has been transported in a truck. Right now, the demand for truck drivers is higher than ever. The growing truck driver shortage in America is a topic of concern and has been for the past four years. The United States is in dire need of people to take on the role of driving trucks. Are you considering becoming a truck driver, but not quite sure if it is the career path for you? Keep reading below for 6 things potential truck drivers need to know before starting their career in the trucking industry.
Know your why
“Why do I want to become a truck driver?” is one of the first questions you should ask yourself before starting your career in trucking. Knowing and understanding your “why” is important so that you make sure that trucking is something you will enjoy. Nothing is more draining than working in a career field that you are not passionate about and excited about. Truck drivers are already more likely to struggle with mental health problems because of the trucking lifestyle. So, to avoid dreading your trucking career, ask yourself, “Why do I want to be a truck driver?”
Long work hours
It’s obvious that truck drivers spend a majority of their workday in the driver seat, but many new drivers do not realize how hard it can be sitting for long periods. Drivers spend hours upon hours sitting down. This can result in leg, back, and neck pain. If you are the type of person who cannot handle sitting down for several hours at a time, then truck driving is not for you.
Another thing to consider is how long a typical workday is for a truck driver. Drivers are legally allowed to work 14 hours a day, but are limited to 11 hours of driving time. They must take a mandatory 30-minute break by the eighth hour of duty. Following the long workday, drivers must have 10 hours of off-duty time. In a workweek, drivers cannot exceed more than 60 hours of work or 70 hours over eight days. Failure to follow these HOS rules can result in being shut down, fines, and lower carrier safety ratings.
A new lifestyle
There is not a career quite like trucking. It is nothing like your typical 9-5, Monday-Friday job. It is long hours, days, and most times weeks away from home. Truck drivers often experience loneliness, depression, and anxiety. If you are someone who is used to working with many people, then truck driving will be a shock. Drivers will go days or weeks without seeing their loved ones, and it can really take a toll on truckers, especially those who are new. Adjusting to this lifestyle can be challenging at first, but once you do you can live a rewarding life as a truck driver.
Getting seat time
The more experience you have as a truck driver the better. With more experience, you will land better truck-driving jobs and better pay. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, truck drivers earn an average of over $40,000 per year. Yet, many trucking companies advertise higher rates of pay for experienced drivers. Over time you can negotiate a higher rate per mile.
Your relationships will suffer
It does not matter if you are on the road or at home, make time for family. Make it a priority to talk to someone in your family once a day. It can be tough for truckers, especially long-haul truck drivers, to maintain relationships with their families due to the trucking lifestyle. Keeping in contact with your loved ones will help life on the road be less lonely.
Lack of sleep
Getting the recommended amount of sleep each night is a rare thing for truckers. Although sleep may be difficult for truckers because of the uncomfortable way of living, it is essential to their well-being and safety. Make it a priority to get good sleep and make a sleep schedule. Set an alarm for a certain time and turn off all electronics and get your much-needed sleep. Not getting enough sleep can make life on the road miserable.
Although there may seem like many downsides to truck driving, it can be a very rewarding and exciting career. As a truck driver, you have freedom on the open road and the opportunity to see America’s most beautiful places.
Share with us in the comments below what you believe potential truck drivers should know before starting their career in trucking.
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