A Day in the Life of a Truck Driver

Truck driving down the highway.

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Truck drivers carry out some of the most essential jobs in the world. They haul food, water, clothes and medical supplies for thousands of miles, missing quality time with their loved ones for the welfare of society. The labor and hours can be grueling, but someone has to do it.

What does a day in the life of a truck driver look like? Put yourself in the shoes of a big rig driver and see if you can keep up.

An Early Wakeup Call

You will typically wake up before the crack of dawn. You have a deadline to meet, so you want to maximize your time on the road each day. Then you roll out of the small bed in your sleeper cab and start your morning routine. You wash up at the rest area you stopped at the night before, get coffee and eat a light breakfast.

As you enjoy your coffee and breakfast, you look up the weather forecast and upcoming traffic conditions. These factors will largely determine whether you have a good or bad day on the road.

You learn that an accident has caused a lane closure on your route. You hope the traffic clears up soon, but you find an alternative way just in case. The weather forecast also calls for rain in the afternoon, so you use your CB radio to notify other drivers in the area about the potential delays. Truck drivers always have each other’s backs.

The truck’s pre-trip inspection is the most important part of your morning routine. You look for tire damage and fluid leaks and ensure the cargo is secure. Finally, you top off your gas tank and hit the road.

On the Road

You carefully merge onto the freeway, watching all angles for smaller vehicles. The state you’re driving through has a strict speed limit for big rigs, so you only max out at 65 mph. It’s for the best anyway because trucks take a long time to accelerate and decelerate. Going at a consistent pace is the easiest and safest way to drive a rig.

The road is busy from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. as people commute to work, but traffic starts to open up at around 10 a.m. Your energy levels are highest in the mid-to-late morning, so you turn on the radio and blast some tunes.

You start to get into your groove – studying the traffic flow, switching lanes on occasion and people-watching as the smaller cars whizz by. You hear from another driver that the accident has cleared up, which means you don’t have to change your route. This moment is a high point in the life of a truck driver.

The clock strikes noon. The next state’s border is coming up, which means two things for truckers: You have to get weighed and abide by different traffic laws. During this time, you have a light snack and chat with other drivers about good rest areas, work problems and other shared interests. Every driver has a unique road story to tell, but you can’t linger because you need to stay on schedule.

You hit the road again, this time listening to a relaxing audiobook. Dark clouds in the distance start to get closer. You finally stop at a restaurant for lunch just after 2 p.m. The rainstorm finally strikes, so you decide to wait for the weather to pass. You relax in your rig and check in with your family in the meantime.

The rain lightens up, but it doesn’t show any signs of stopping. You’re anxious to start again because you get paid by the mile, so you get back on the road and drive with more caution. You escape the clouds and begin to think about stopping at about 5 p.m. Some truckers don’t mind motoring a few hours into the night, but you prefer to get settled before sunset.

Evening Blues

Another trucker mentioned a pleasant rest area on your route earlier in the day, so you decide to stop there. It has private bathrooms, clean showers and some tasty food options. On other nights you might take an Uber into the nearest town for a sit-down meal, but today was a long day. The food from the rest area will suffice.

The evening is often the loneliest time of day for truck drivers. You’d rather be at home with your family, but instead, you’re eating a meal by yourself hundreds of miles away. Falling asleep isn’t an issue, though, because you’re exhausted. You do a quick truck inspection, read some more of your book and pass out by 10 p.m. Tomorrow’s schedule requires an early start and a late ending — nothing new in the life of a truck driver.

Do You Have What It Takes?

Now that you have a decent understanding of the life of a truck driver, do you think you have what it takes? The trucking industry is experiencing a labor shortage and could use another driver. The work is tough, but it’s a vital part of our infrastructure that we can’t afford to lose.

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