I’m sure you’ve all seen truck drivers, whether you live in the US or not. They keep the world running. People would not have anything if it weren’t for a truck driver who works nonstop. People frequently make fun of truck drivers, and I frequently overhear them laughing. But you shouldn’t crack jokes until you’ve walked in a truck driver’s shoes and done even a tenth of what they’ve done.
Yes, I am aware that there aren’t many requirements to become a truck driver. All you need to enter the United States is the ability to read, write, and speak English. You must not be mentally unstable or have a criminal record. It is relatively simple to get a CDL license through truck driving school; the program lasts just three weeks. Believe me, once you graduate from school, things get really tough.
I have heard people say, “But all you do is sit behind the wheel and drive, how hard is that”?
Let’s take a look, shall we?
Your employment with a company follows your successful completion of school. When you arrive for orientation, which could last up to 5 days, the majority of employers will only pay you perhaps $25.00 per day. Some businesses won’t even attempt this. Of course, they will feed you lunch, check you into a budget motel, and give you a van to take you to the terminal and back to the motel.
The DOT and company policies, securing your loads, and filling out paperwork for both the DOT and your company are all covered in the next five days of instruction. Additionally, a physical examination and a DOT drug test must be completed within these five days.
Suppose you have the good fortune to complete this portion of it. You have now been hired as an employee. Guess what?
No, you haven’t been formally hired; instead, you’re a trainee for a potential employer. This means that you are allowed to ride along with a driver trainer for however long they feel you need to. Basically, you will handle all of the driving and paperwork. While earning a fortune, the driver trainer is seated in the passenger seat.
That’s correct, while you won’t, he or she will earn a lot of money. Okay, so you’ve been matched with a trainer. Typically, this person is returning from a break at home, so they’re generally running late. Trying to squeeze that last-minute time with the family.
The company has already required you to check out of the budget hotel, so you are stuck waiting at the terminal for him or her to arrive.
Now that the trainer has finally arrived, you find out that their truck has a problem. The mechanics start working on it after the trainer informs them about it. With all your belongings piled up around you, you are currently waiting to be loaded into the truck. You have been waiting for a place to nap or sleep because you have been awake all day.
After finishing up in about 4 hours, the truck is now ready for you to load your belongings into. The trainer, as you might have guessed, also has their own belongings. Yes, it will all fit, but there won’t be much space left.
2:00 AM has come and gone by this point. Do you anticipate leaving the terminal with your trainer and making our way to a truck stop where we’ll spend the night?
They have a load that leaves at 6:00 AM, not 6:00 PM. Upon witnessing your vehicle traveling down the road, the trainer will retire to bed.
You now reach your pick-up location, awaken the trainer, and go through security.
When you arrive at the security office, your trainer has been there a thousand times but you haven’t. You will be required to go through security’s brief check-in process, which includes filling out your name, receiving a name tag, watching a film, etc.
You complete this procedure, it is now 7:00 am. Keep in mind that the pickup for your load was scheduled for 6:00 am. One hour into your run, and you are still not even loaded.
Security points you in the direction of the shipping office, so you enter and provide a pick-up number. Guess what?
The wrong number means you now have to call your dispatcher, who is usually reachable by phone in the break room on the opposite side of the building. Of course, I’m aware that many of you have smartphones. There are many places where cell phones are prohibited.
You go to the phone with your trainer, dial the dispatcher’s number, and hold. Your dispatcher may have to deal with 20 or 30 drivers; if they all have the same issue, you will likely spend some time on the phone.
45 minutes later they answer takes them a couple of seconds to give you the right number because maybe all they missed it was by a number. It is now 8:00 am or later when you finally make it back to the shipping office.
The new pick-up number you provide works, but because you are two hours late, they will have to try to fit you into their loading window.
In order to respond, you go to your truck and wait for a CB radio call. The truth is that you still haven’t been able to go to bed; instead, you have to wait to be called while sitting up in the seat.
They finally call you to park in a loading dock after about 4 or 5 trucks, all of which had pulled in behind you, have all been loaded. Guess what?
They advise you to go to sleep because your load is not ready yet and they will wake you up when it is.
5 hours later they wake you, you are loaded. Once the paperwork is signed, you can leave.
Oh, and while you worked there from 6:00 am to 1:00 pm, you were not paid.
To make your load legal to drive on the road, you must now locate a scale. When you arrive at a truck stop, you must scale your load before you can purchase fuel. If fuel arrived first, it’s possible that you wouldn’t be able to scale the load to be legal.
After scaling the load, fuel can be purchased..this may take a couple hours depending where you are at.
After being awake all day and night the day before, you slept for only five hours.
You can still drive because you have 11 hours of permissible driving time. Only five hours have been spent driving so far to reach the legal scaling out of the load.
Once you’ve finished refueling, get ready to set out on your journey. Take a look at your map, fill out your logbook, and then leave.
The trainer wants you to leave because you have six more hours left to drive legally. You finally arrive at your destination, but 5.5 hours later your eyes feel like sandpaper from lack of sleep, hunger, and lack of a shower for 2 days.
When delivering, your duties are essentially the same as those you had to perform when picking up the load. Check in with security and then head up to the receiving office after a 15 to 20 minute safety discussion, only to learn that you must wait because you arrived so late.
Once more, you wait in silence for someone to yell at you over the CB radio. You might have to wait a few hours before you can finally drive into an unloading dock.
The fun part starts right now when you have to deal with the annoying dock supervisor who has been working all day and is very irritated. He then declares, “This load must be palletized of great,” just for fun.
As a result of the pallets being perhaps one layer too tall, you must enter the trailer and disassemble them.
Or you can hire a lumper to do it for you; most employers will pay for this as long as you first get permission.
The load is finally unloaded after another five or six hours. By now, it’s probably midnight, you haven’t eaten in three days, haven’t taken a shower, and guess what? You still have a half-hour of driving to do before you can hopefully pull into a truck stop and park.
Your trainer has instructed you to head toward a truck stop that is a little ways up the road.
Only to arrive at it and discover that the parking space is nearly full. It is now nearly 1:00 AM and you need to take a shower, get something to eat, and try to get some sleep after you locate and park your car. You are currently enjoying your first 10-hour break.
Welcome to truck driving, buddy. You have many more loads to look forward to.
In all likelihood, it is not quite as bad as I made it sound, but it’s also not exactly a piece of cake either.
The next time a trucker inadvertently enters your lane, give them a break because they may have been on the road for a long time without a break.