Truck Driving: The Combined Dedication to Skills and Lifestyle

There’s no easy answer to the question is the truck-driving profession hard?

The answer to that question is relative to what other profession or career you are comparing it to.

If you compare it to being a soldier in battle, then truck driving is relatively easier. If you compare it to being a stay-at-home mother, teacher or security guard, or even a lawyer, then trucking is harder or easier depending on how you look at those jobs.

It all depends on what profession you are comparing it to.

But, when it comes to trucking, there are two factors to think about when going into the profession, LIFESTYLE and SKILLS.

• Lifestyle

The lifestyle of a professional truck driver is lonely. It is not for those who mind being alone, away from loved ones and friends for long periods like 1-2 weeks or more.

The plus side is the traveling, obviously, so it is wonderful for a person who loves to travel, see different places and meet different people.

When you land your first gig in trucking, there will, of course, be an adjustment to being alone and on the road most of the time. This is a part of trucking that some truck drivers find very hard at first (adjusting to the loneliness).

But as you get the hang of it, and you get comfortable as well as adjusted to the situation, you’ll be surprised to find that you may enjoy this “alone time.”

 

 

• Skills

In truck driving, you are required to have more than the ordinary driving skills of an ordinary vehicle.

You are required to learn and practice the skills of driving this big vehicle. Maneuvering it in tight spaces, ensuring that the vehicle around you and the cargo you’re hauling aren’t damaged in any way.

There’s also the concern for safety in all situations while driving as well as when parked or where you park. These are the skills that you have to learn in the trade of driving big vehicles.

Whether you’re a hands-on learner and can grasp the skills immediately or not, the different sets of skills required take time for you to learn. It will take a lot of dedication and hard work.

Professional truck driving allows you the freedom to be on your own as well as the responsibility to bring cargo and items to and from one destination to another on time and safely.

So, is truck driving hard?

I would choose to say that trucking is not hard but it’s CHALLENGING.

What I Love & Hate About My Trucking Job

There are things I love about this job and things I hate about it.

Some days I’m reminded most of the things I like best, other days I’m forced to deal with the parts I’d rather not see. And then there are the days where I get to see a little bit of both.

These are my favorite kind of days. They remind me how challenging trucking can be, but also how many awesome things I get to see because of it.

Take this last route I drove from San Diego heading up into southern Oregon, for example.

My day started out like any other. I had spent the night in my truck, but luckily hadn’t parked too far from where the shower facilities were located, so I washed up and got a bite to eat before heading back.

I hopped into my truck and motored around to where I’d take on my load. I helped haul crates of beer on board until I’d fit in everything I needed, then carefully wormed my truck through the others crowded into the lot.

It took some maneuvering, but I was able to get weighed not too much later.

When my weight was cleared, I headed out the gate and onto the streets of sunny San Diego. And boy, was it sunny. I felt like I needed some kind of extra strength sunglasses to keep from squinting at the road.

I’ve done a bit of driving in the San Diego area before, so I knew generally where I was going until it came time for me to head out of the city.

That’s when I powered up the GPS and tapped in my destination. I was headed up the coast to Portland with my haul and I wanted to be sure I took the quickest route available.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I knew it would be a long drive; California’s an awfully big state and I was starting out pretty much at the bottom. I was aiming for somewhere past the northern border. But when the GPS read out the approximate travel time, my jaw just about landed in my lap.

Seventeen and a half hours, it read.

That’s where I had to confront one of my least favorite parts of the job.

I was going to have to spend that perfectly gorgeous day cooped up in the little cab of my giant, noisy truck. Great!

Trucking’s a blast, really it is, but it doesn’t usually involve too many quick trips from here to there. Not for me, anyway.

I thanked my lucky stars I’d stocked up on water before leaving my loading dock and proceeded to the route that the GPS had found for me. I merged into the traffic of I-5 north, where I just sat. And sat. And sat.

That’s where I came face to face with my other least favorite part of the job: the traffic. Especially in some of California’s big cities, the traffic is enough to make me want to pull my hair out.

San Diego proved to be no different. At the best of times, traffic was stop and go, but some of those stops lasted for nearly twenty minutes. What started out as a good day was quickly extending to a longer than expected day.

The flow of traffic didn’t get any better for several miles. But when things finally did improve, boy, was it something to see.

At that point, I was rewarded with one of my favorite parts of the job: sightseeing.

In my days as a trucker, I’ve had to deal with all sorts of bad weather and irritating traffic or equipment that isn’t working right, but it’s all worth it when I think about how many fantastic places I’ve gotten to see on the job.

I’ve crossed rivers and driven through mountain ranges, even parts of the desert.

As the traffic thinned out the further I got from San Diego, I was able to look around a bit and pay more attention to what was waiting for me out the windows.

As long as the drive was, it was just beautiful. I drove along waterways and through national forests, and towards the end, there was so much open country I thought I might get lost in it all.

It was for that reason that what ended up being a twenty-six hour trip to my destination was tolerable, even enjoyable at some times.

There are gorgeous stretches of this country I live in, and if I wasn’t a trucker who dealt with the few downsides of the job I sometimes have to face, I would never have gotten to see half the wonderful sights I’ve seen.

That’s the thought that’s going to keep me going the next time I’m sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, anyway.

What truck driver trainees should bring for over the road training

For the most part, after you finish your trucking school and pass your CDL test, the next step will be to go out over the road with an experienced truck driver who will help train you in the everyday aspects of trucking.

I say for the most part because there are a few drivers who may be lucky to get a local company (trucking or non-trucking company) that may hire them on without over the road experience.

Truck drivers will tell you that no company can hire you as a new truck driver straight out of school. That is not true. Finding a company to hire you may be hard but it’s possible. I say it because I have seen it happen on numerous accounts.

Even though it is possible, I personally wouldn’t want to recommend you to take that route.

I would encourage you to invest at least 1-3 months of over the road training even if you have a company that is willing to hire you as a local truck driver.

The experience you get training over the road in different scenarios will be worth the time and sacrifice you invest.

When you get ready to go with your trainer, remember that you are going to be two people sharing a very small space. Don’t bring a lot of things with you.

You are going to be a “visitor” on someone else’s truck. When you get your own truck, you will be able to bring with you whatever you want. During training, you just want to carry the essentials.

Also, if something happens and you don’t get along with your trainer, you don’t want him or her throwing you off their truck with a bunch of stuff. (Yes it happens). You want to be able to get off the truck with a bag or two (at most) that will make it easy to get on a train or plane.

Here is a list of things you should consider.

1. A few clothes

I’m not going to tell you how many shirts of pants you need to go into detail that you need underwears and socks. I believe you can figure out what you need.

2. Bedding

Don’t forget to bring bedsheets and a bedcover that will serve you well. I suggest you get a bed cover that is not bulky.

3. Personal hygiene stuff

This is everything you think you may need for your hygiene. Deodorant, toothpaste, lotion, nail clippers, shaving stuff, etc.

4. Towel and wash cloth

Although I’m not obsessed with cleanliness, I do consider myself a relatively clean person and one who is conscious about certain things.

Truck stops do provide you with towels, wash clothes, and bathing soap. But, I would personally advise you carry your own if you can.

5. Bathroom slippers.

Most truck drivers don’t mind showering bare feet at truck stop bathrooms. But, again, just for your health, I advise you bring bathroom slippers.

6. Dry, canned and microwaveable foods

You will need to pack some food for yourself if you want to save money while on the road. Truck stop food is very expensive.

Remember that when you are training you are not making a lot of money. So you want to be wise in your spending.

7. Microwaveable dish and cup

Having a microwaveable dish and cup will come in handy and will save you a lot of money too. One of the ways to save money and stay healthy on the road as a truck driver is to become creative in your eating habits.

Because you don’t have a stove in the truck or anywhere on the road for that matter, to help you cook, the microwave will become a cooking friend. So having a microwaveable dish and cup will help.

8. Water bottle/cup and flask

Over the road truck drivers usually drive for hours without taking a break. This is often necessary because the job requires us to make on time deliveries.

One of the way to ensure that is planning your journey. If you know you are going to be rolling down the highway for 4-5 hours without stopping, then you need to plan on what you will be eating and drinking during that time.

If you are like me who enjoys drinking hot tea, you definitely need to have a flask.

For the water bottle/cup, I suggest you get a really big one that also has the capability of keeping your water cold if you like cold water.

9. Laundry detergent

You will have an opportunity to do laundry at the truck stops. So bring yourself some detergent because the one at the truck stops is a bit pricey.

10. Work gloves

Hooking and unhooking will be a big part of your job. Most trainers enjoy sitting back and having the trainee do that stuff. So get yourself some good work gloves to help protect your hands.

These are the things I think will help you get through your training smoothly. They should be able to fit in a good big traveling bag.

Until next time,

Stay safe.

Challenges faced by people in the truck driving careeer

Just like any other career, driving trucks has its challenges. Truck driving has one of the highest turnover rates when it comes to jobs in the US.

Here are some of the challenges that come with the trucking career.

Strain on relationships

One of the biggest reasons most truck drivers quit their job in a few months is because of the kind of stress put on the driver’s relationships.

When one starts out driving a truck, getting a local driving job or a job that will at least let him/her be at home a couple of days within the week is very hard and.

This means that the driver has to be away from his/her family for weeks at a time and when they get some time off, it’s just for a couple of days.

Very few couples can handle this kind of sacrifice. Especially if they have young kids.

I have talked to many drivers that are divorced and have lost their families just because they started a truck driving career.

Starting a truck driving career works better for those who are still single when starting out because after you have six months to a year of driving experience, it becomes easier to find something that will allow you to get home more frequently.

If you are married and have kids, make sure you sit down with your loved ones and make the decision together. The first year of trucking will be very stressful.

You all must be in agreement if trucking is to work out for you.

Loneliness and boredom

Before I started driving trucks, I used to consider myself as a person who liked to be alone. I quickly realized this is not true after I had finished my training and was driving solo.

Driving a truck solo (by yourself) is very lonely.

You listen to the radio, talk on the phone, talk to yourself, think and do all you can imagine, but soon run out of what will take away the boredom and loneliness.

I have come to realize that human beings were not meant to be alone and there is nothing that can replace the company of a fellow human being.

To help overcome the loneliness, some drivers bring along family members on their trips and some travel with their pets.

I don’t know if a dog, cat or any other pet would help take away the loneliness but I guess every driver is trying to find a solution to this problem.

Inconsistent Paycheck

Usually in other careers other than the commission based ones, one usually knows what their paycheck amount is going to be since the pay rate and hours worked are usually the same.

In truck driving, your paycheck is inconsistent because you are paid by the miles (generally speaking).

A driver could have a good week where he/she runs 3000+ miles followed by a lousy week where they can’t even get 2000 miles. This can make it very difficult for a driver to budget his/her finances.

There are ways to overcome this issue. Go read and listen to this.

Health issues

One of the biggest issues faced by truck drivers is health.

Many drivers have left the truck driving career because of bad health. In addition to a commercial driver license, truck drivers have to carry a medical card.

This card is obtained by undergoing and passing a department of transportation medical and physical test. Failure to pass the DOT test means losing your commercial driver license.

The reason most drivers have bad health is because of the nature of the job.

Drivers sit for long hours driving and do not endeavor to do any exercises. In addition to that, because they are always on the road, “junk” food becomes their number one choice of food.

This combination of inactivity and bad eating has not only put people out of the truck driving career but has killed many drivers too.

Hard to pursue other things

Currently, this is my number one challenge.

Finding the time to pursue other things like going to school, going to church, socializing, getting involved in communities, etc becomes very hard when you are a truck driver.

It is easy to be caught in just driving trucks and fail to socialize or even have an exit plan in case you want to do something else with your life.

Trucking can easily take all your time if you are not careful.

Lot of hours

While most jobs usually have the standard 40 hours a week of working, truck driving is different.

Truck drivers work 10 to 14 hours a day and put in 60 to 70 hours a week. And I only say that because legally, truck drivers have a 14 hour and 70-hour rule.

Most drivers look for ways to work above the legal limit not because they want to but because they want to put in enough miles or hours to be able to make a good paycheck.

Safety

Just think about it. Tens of thousands of accidents happen on US road EVERY DAY. Millions every year. You can go here to get an idea of the stats.

Every time a truck driver gets behind that wheel, he/she is driving a long, tall and heavy equipment.

Most people we share the road with have no clue how the 18 wheelers work and so do not care how they drive around them.

Every working day for truck drivers is a day faced with safety challenges.

That is why I encourage my fellow truck drivers to always ask and thank God for his protection. If you are not a truck driver, always remember us in your prayers as we drive on those roads.

Until next time,

Stay Safe.

7 Reasons Why You Should Consider A Career As A Truck Driver

If you are a young person looking for a career to go into, or you are someone looking to change careers, here are some reasons why you should think about becoming a truck driver.

1. Always Hiring

We all know how the past few years have been very hard on people in relation to employment and the ability to put food on the table for their families.

In 2008, I was given an opportunity to leave truck driving so I could help in running a residential care facility for the people that had just started the business. I gladly took on the opportunity.

Because of the timing of that business venture, within two years, we could not continue to run successfully because the property was financially upside down and we had not reached full capacity.

For many people, if they had been in my position at that time, they would probably be scared because they would have had to worry about finding another job. Not me. All I had to do, is find a good trucking company that I wanted to work for and start my new job.

That is exactly what I did. It did not take me even a week to get the job I wanted. As a matter of fact, I am the one that had to decide which company I wanted to work for. In other words, I had options.

There is a whole "industry" within trucking that is just dedicated to finding and recruiting good drivers. Ever since I started driving trucks, I have never had a problem finding a truck driving job.

2. It doesn't matter where you live

Another advantage of being a truck driver is that it really doesn't matter where you live. East, West, South, and North, trucking companies are looking for drivers in those areas to help them make deliveries to their customers.

So, if you choose to relocate to a different part of the country, you can do so without fear of not finding a truck driving job.

If you happen to be working for big trucking companies that have terminals across the country, you don't even have to change companies or lose any pay period since they can always just transfer you to the terminal that serves that particular area you are moving to.

3. Easier to get into

How many times have you heard of people that have gone to school for a long period of time, got into debt for student loans, only to come out and realize they can not find the job they studied for.

I know this really well because before I started driving trucks, I took a student loan out and took a course that didn't do me any good. It was a "hot" market when I started the course, but by the time I started working in that industry, it was hit badly by the economy even before I could get any experience in it.

When I decided to get into trucking, I did not have to pay anywhere close to what I got into debt for in the other career. And, I was assured of a job even before I started school.

If you have a good driving record, you are in good health and have no felonies, truck driving is one of the easiest careers you can get into without "breaking the bank".

4. Descent income earned

I used to think that if I could get a good office job, I would make a lot of money. I was deceived by the good looking buildings and the fancy air conditioned offices.

Although I know that it all depends on what you do in the office, I have been surprised to learn over the years that most people who sit in offices, dressed in suits may not be making as much money as some truck drivers make.

Depending on how good of a driver you are, what endorsements you have, the trucking company you work for, truck driving will give you an opportunity to earn anywhere between $45,000 and $85,000 as a company driver. Owner and lease operators may earn more than that.

5. Independence

One of the things I used to hate is working under direct supervision. I just don't seem to do well with someone watching what I do every minute.

I'm more of a results oriented guy. Tell me what you want to be done and give me my space to get it done my way. One of the reasons I chose to become a truck driver was to run away from a very controlled atmosphere to one that gives me more liberty.

I wanted to have the freedom to work with very little or no supervision. I wanted to manage my work and life so I could be more productive. I didn't want to just do things just because the boss is watching over me.

I have thrived in trucking because of that. - Delivering desired/expected results with my freedom.

All the managers I have worked under at the different trucking companies knew they could count on me. I have never been fired from any company, and every trucking company I have worked for has wanted me back.

If you are the kind of person that loves to work under minimal supervision and be in control of your work environment, then consider a truck driving career.

6. Variety

There are different types of trucking jobs to choose from depending on what kind of challenge you want in a job.

From a class B truck driver to oversize loads and in between, the choice is yours to make. You can drive expedited, dry van, flatbed, tankers, tow trucks, haul cars, etc.

7. Opportunity To Become A Business Owner

If you become a truck driver and realize that you love it and are not afraid of the risk of becoming a business owner, you will love the ease of starting your own business in trucking.

As I'm writing this, I'm trying to think of any other job where a company hires you as an employee but is also willing to help you become a business owner and I can't come up with one.

Becoming an owner operator (business owner) isn't for everyone. It requires one to understand the responsibilities and hustle that comes with it. But for the man or woman who wants it, it is easier to cross from employee to being your own boss in trucking than any other job.

Final Note.

Although this post was written for the purpose of putting some light on truck driving, I know truck driving isn't for everyone. Trucking has one of the highest turnover rates because it has its challenges.

If you look into driving a truck and realize it is not for you, it is not the only career within the trucking industry. There are other career choices you can choose from. Do some research and see if there is something else that may interest you within the trucking industry.

Until next time,

Stay Safe!

4 things You Should Do To Stay Healthy As A Truck Driver

One of the biggest challenges truck drivers face is staying healthy while on the road. There are more drivers leaving trucking because of health challenges now than in the past.

With the health requirements that are demanded from truck drivers, you can not afford to keep living the unhealthy life style most truck drivers live.

The trick to succeeding in becoming a healthy truck driver is to decide that you want it, then set your mind to get it. There is no short cut about it. You are going to have to put your mind to it to achieve it.

There are four things you need to focus on.

I’m sure you already know these four things but, I’m writing them to remind you. To encourage you because we all need a friend to support us in our endeavors.

1.Do your best to eat healthy every day.

You need to research and find out what kind of healthy foods you can stock up to eat while on the road.

This will help you to avoid buying junk foods on the road and even save you a lot of money. If you have a refrigerator in your truck, every time you have an opportunity to stop by a grocery store like Walmart, stock up on some fruits and vegetables (especially those you can eat raw).

If you do your research right, you can also find good canned foods and packed snacks that are way healthier than the “junk” foods truckers usually eat at truck stops.

The reason I tell you to do some research is that eating healthy has something to do with your body type too. So it will be good if you know the kinds of foods that are better for your body type and taste good for you.

2.Determine to exercise at least 4-6 days every week.

Nearly as important as determining to eat healthy every day, becoming a healthy truck driver will require you to exercise at least 4-6 days every week.

Trust me you really don’t want to slack in this area. It’ll help you to get to your desired health goal faster. And that is something every person involved with becoming healthy wants and wishes for.

Most truck drivers make excuses that they don’t have time, or that they don’t have a place to work out from. Those are just excuses. I have personally been able to find a way to overcome both of those excuses and work out ON THE ROAD (before I started driving locally).

The best time to work out should be in the morning before you start driving.

First, it will help get that workout off your to do list.

Second, you will feel energized through the day and, it will keep you alert as you drive.

If you can’t do it in the morning, then do it right after you are done with driving. I have also done it at shipper’s and receiver’s facilities if I find out that am going to be there for a while and there is enough space for me to put in my workouts.

As for where to do the exercises, I have done them in truck stop parking lots, running around the lot, using spaces in between trucks and in the shower rooms before I take my shower.

Believe it or not, I have even done them on the side of the freeway or on off ramps when there is enough space. That is the kind of commitment it takes.

3.Avoid the sugar drinks and drink lots of water.

The other important thing for you to succeed at becoming a healthy truck driver, you need to make sure that you drink lots of water.

I always see truck drivers filling their large refill containers in truck stops with sodas from the soda machines. Sitting and driving for hours while filling your body with large amounts of sugary drinks is a very bad health habit.

By the way, let me admit to you something. My weakness when it comes to sugar is drinking tea. I love hot tea. I drink lots of it and I add sugar to it. But, even though I’m not a fan of drinking pure water, I know it is good for me. So, I make the effort to drink as much as I can so that it can help dilute and flush out the tea and sugar.

When we don’t drink water, it may result in poor digestion, weariness, dehydration, fatigue and other health issues which could be unfortunate, and not a positive thing in any way…again, as I said before if you plan on becoming a healthy truck driver, you need to be determined.

4. Get enough sleep

We work long hours. Our job can sometimes be stressful. We need to get enough rest. And not just rest. But SLEEP.

For those of you fellow truck drivers that are over the road, I know how hard it can be having a set schedule. I know that you only make money when those wheels are rolling.

But, if becoming a healthy truck driver is your goal, you need to make sleep one of your priorities and it needs to be up there close to the top.

Not only will sleep help accelerate your health goals, it will also help keep you safe on the road. Many of our fellow truck drivers have got into accidents and some even passed away just because of a lack of sleep. Don’t be part of those statistics.

Remember, you have chosen to make truck driving your career. Don’t make health mistakes you can avoid, particularly those that could leave you unhealthy in the long run or even unemployed.

Your ultimate goal should be to be a successful, healthy truck driver. And you can start towards that goal by following the few tips I have given you here.

until next time,

Stay Safe

The Perfect Gift For A Truck Driver’s Family

The holiday season is here.

It’s the season we all want to give and get gifts. You may or may not already know what gift you plan to give to your loved ones. Either way, I want to suggest a gift I believe your family and friends will love.

Since you know your family and friends better than I do, it will be up to you to tailor the gift and make it perfect in your own way.

As truck drivers, one of the challenges we face is, getting quality time with the people we love.

For over the road truck drivers, you are away for days or even weeks from home at a time. For us who do local work, we put in a lot of hours. Most of us, work sees us more than home.

So, what is the perfect gift we can give to our family and friends?

THE GIFT OF EXPERIENCE

Giving material presents is good. If you can, please do give them.

BUT, I’m going to ask that you only give them in addition to the gift of experience. Since time with our loved ones is a challenge in this career, l challenge you to invest more in planning to spend A LOT of time with them this holiday season.

Don’t just spend time with them.

Invest in making the time spent with them memorable. That is what I’m referring to as the gift of experience. For the time to be an experience, it doesn’t have to be expensive. It just has to be memorable.

And, for it to be memorable, you are going to have to think hard about how to make it happen. You can (and should) even think about it in different aspects.

Think about;

  • Things you can do with your spouse.
  • Things you can do with your children
  • Things you can do together as a family

What are the things you can do with your spouse (alone) this holiday season that you haven’t been able to do?

What can you do with your children (especially if they are still young) that will leave them talking about the experience till next holiday?

Do you get the idea?

It’s amazing to me how much “small” things can mean a lot and make an impact.

One of the ways I come up with ideas of things to do with my family is by always listening to what my wife says (my daughter is still young to tell me what she likes) during conversations.

These may be things she wishes for or things we have done in the past that she remembers. The way she talks about them can give me clues on what she likes and what to plan for.

As men (most truck drivers are) we tend to think logically. We want things to make sense. We buy stuff for our wives and children assuming these will communicate our love for them. And to some extent they do.

But, love is mostly communicated through totally availing ourselves to them NOT things. Through creating memorable experiences with them NOT things.

The memories we have about our loved ones are the experiences we shared with them NOT the things we had with them.

So, I’m asking you to take some time and plan for the GIFT OF EXPERIENCE. Because if it’s going to be memorable, it’s going to take some thought and planning.

I wish you a MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY HOLIDAY EXPERIENCE with your loved ones.

If you take my suggestion, I would love to hear about your experience after the holidays.

Until next time,

Stay Safe!

Truck Drivers Can Learn Something From This 23-year-old Google employee That lives in a truck and saves 90% of his income

thumbnail courtesy of independent.co.uk

One of the things I hear over the road truck drivers complain about a lot is sleeping in that small space.

I understand how hard it can be.

I’m sharing this story to encourage you to remember what you are working towards. (I’m hoping you have some goals you are working towards)

A 23-year-old Google employee lives in a truck in the company’s parking lot and saves 90% of his income

His projected “break-even point” is October 21, according to the live-updating “savings clock” he created on his blog, “Thoughts from Inside the Box.