On the Job: What Is It Like Being a Truck Driver?
Understanding the career of being a long-haul trucker and what it involves on a daily basis
Our country’s economy depends on truck drivers hauling shipments of goods across the nation every day. Although you’re surrounded by these fast-moving vehicles whenever you’re on the highway, the actual career of a big-rig trucker is one you’re probably not familiar with.
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like being a truck driver or are considering it as a career, here is an overview of what an average day driving a semi-trailer truck is like according to personal experiences shared by truck drivers on AllTrucking.com and The Guardian.
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An average day in the life of a big rig driver
Your morning starts off at around the same time that most adults wake up: around 5-6 a.m. This might be the fifth day you’ve been on the road and you have another two days left to go. If you’re driving a day cab, then you probably slept in a rest area or facility that offers overnight accommodations. If you’re driving a sleeper cab, you utilized the bunk bed behind the driver’s seat.
Either way, you go through your morning routine, which includes washing up, getting coffee, and grabbing some breakfast. As you eat, you’re checking your messages, seeing what the weather will be like today, checking in with dispatch if necessary, and planning the next leg of the route.
Then, you’ll look over the truck for any issues, like tire damage, severe leaks, or loose items in the trailer. Swing by the gas pump on the way out and fill up before hitting the road.
Throughout the day, you’ll be focused behind the wheel, watching for tiny cars darting around you and slow vehicles ahead that you could get stuck behind. You’ve got an audiobook playing in the background as you’re in “the zone.” After crossing into the next state, you swing by a weigh station to get everything in order before continuing on.
When you stop for lunch at a convenience station, you check in with your family and chat with some fellow drivers who are also taking a break.
It’s back on the road for the next stretch until you finish at dinnertime (or until you need a restroom break). This afternoon, you pass through a rainstorm and consider if the weather is bad enough to warrant shutting down until it passes. But, the clouds break and you continue until you reach your next projected stop for the night.
You get on the CB and ask for a good place to park and eat in town, then maybe take a taxi to go see a movie in the local theater before heading back to your truck for the night to call home and get some rest.
In total, you’ll drive for about 9 hours that day, unless you’re trying to meet a docking deadline. If you’re short on time, you might push through for longer in the night so you can get to the drop point the next morning, keeping an eye on the DOT clock to avoid committing any violations. Another couple of days, and you’ll be done with this route and headed back for a couple of days of “home time.”
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Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a Hyundai Veloster Turbo (which recently replaced his 1995 Saturn SC-2). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing… See more articles by Aaron.