I’ve been a Truck Driver for almost 2 decades. Last night while trucking I wondered as I get older how my body and mind may change. I wondered, “what would be the easiest freight or trailer to haul as an older truck driver?”. So I researched, and researched and here’s what I found.
The answer to which freight is the easiest is based on each Truck Driver’s individual abilities. If less entering and exiting of the semi truck with minimal physical labor is needed, maybe 100% Drop and Hook would be the easiest.
It comes down to each truck driver being the key reasons to which freight type feels easier. To read a little more into this and gain a better understanding of how to determine which freight type feels easier for you based on how much physical or mental labor may be included. Check out the additional information below that I have included that goes over a few different areas of the Trucking Industry.
Why Are Some Types Of Freight Easier Than Other Freight Types For Truck Drivers?
Since we all age different, one truck driver may need less getting in and out of the semi truck. With this 100% Drop and Hook would be best on for example a Dry Van Trailer, Intermodal Shipping Container or etc. Another truck driver may be able to get in and out of the semi truck, but 100% No Touch Freight could be best with for example a Dry Van Trailer, Refer Trailer, hauling Doubles from Trucking Terminal to Trucking Terminal or etc.
Some require more labor, more mental ability, or a better understanding of just what each freight type consists of. Let’s start with 100% Drop and Hook. First, we need to understand what it is.
Drop and Hook is when the Truck Driver hauls their trailer to a location. This location can be a Truck Company Terminal or Yard. It can also be a customer or the like. The Truck Driver simply detaches from the trailer brought into the location. Then reattaches to a different trailer and leaves.
Sometimes during this process, the truck driver may have to put the brought in the trailer into a dock with the doors open. However, this is not always 100% of the time requirement.
Though when is required, the driver would have to get out of the semi truck. Walk to the rear of the trailer and open any doors that may need to be opened, so that the personnel of the location can access the freight within the trailer prior to completely detaching from the trailer.
Then the truck driver either bobtails out of the area and drives to go to the next trailer to attach to or goes and hooks up to a different trailer at the current location prior to leaving. (Bobtail is the term used to call a Semi Truck without a Trailer.)
With Intermodal Shipping Containers. The ease of drop and hook comes in the form of twisting some pins located on the chassis to unlock the securing features of the chassis. That allows another piece of equipment to lift the container off of the chassis.
Then when time to place a different container on the chassis, the equipment simply places it on the chassis. The truck driver twists the pins back into place, seals the pins and is ready to go.
The excess movement from being loaded or unloaded with an external machine in the intermodal area of the trucking industry could be viewed more so as inbetween of 100% drop and hook and 100% No Touch Freight.
Since the excess movement of the semi truck isn’t repeated over a long duration of time, like with live unloading or live loading. This may be something for a truck driver that is capable of getting out of the semi-truck often but may not be able to withstand a steady consistent shaking or jarring of the semi truck due to forklifts entering and exiting a trailer while backed into a dock.
If your not sure what Live Unloading or Live Loading is, please don’t worry. I will definitely explain it to you in a moment. I just want to make sure you understand a couple of additional things first.
Moving right along into 100% No Touch Freight. Let me help you understand what this is, in case you don’t know. Since I understand not everyone is a Truck Driver.
When a Truck Driver never has to load or unload any part or portion of the freight onto, into, or out of the trailer attached to the semi truck that truck driver, drives. This basically means that the customer is solely responsible for either loading or unloading the freight. With this, you could still be responsible for auditing what either enters or exits your trailer.
This is what is meant as being 100% No Touch Freight. You don’t touch the freight as being the truck driver. However, you will go to more docks, so this means that you will get in and out of your semi truck more often to open and close trailer doors.
Most customers do not open or close the trailer doors for the truck driver. This is normally something that the truck driver has to do them self after the seal on the trailer has been removed by verified personnel.
Now while being at the customer and in the dock. The truck may rock back and forth slightly to a possible great degree. Dependent on how aggressive the customer is loading or unloading the trailer with a forklift or belt for example.
The added movement, shaking and etc of the semi truck. Is the reason for this being located here within this article. Truck Drivers with more of an ability to withstand the potential shaking or jarring of the truck as forklifts enter and exit the trailer may be better suited for this type of freight.
At times when a forklift begins its original start of loading a trailer. It is unknown and unexpected to the truck driver. Only because when the dock signals a green or red light, this is not always a guarantee that the action associated with the dock light will begin the instant the light changes color at the dock.
How aggressive the semi-truck trailer is loaded or unloaded determines how much movement the truck driver will feel from the process. There have been times, I felt absolutely nothing, and then theirs been times I felt like I was going to be shot-put through the windshield from inside the semi truck.
As we can see, depending on what your body and mind require. This could pose a risk to how easy or difficult you feel something like this you may or not be able to tolerate.
Same holds true for the unloading process, except in reverse order. The forklift isn’t felt as much in the beginning as it is towards the end. When the forklift is up near the front of the trailer nose. That is resting over the drive axles of the semi truck locked in place by the fifth wheel. Which is normally about 10 feet from the semi truck driver’s seat.
Now you may be asking, what is this live loading and live unloading thing? This is the term for basically a truck driver being at the location and being loaded or unloaded while there.
Basically, it is the complete opposite of Drop and Hook. Live loading and unloaded can be associated with No Touch Freight. Since you are waiting on the premises of the customer while being loaded or unloaded.
This can occur with the truck driver waiting to be completed with the driver either awaiting within the semi truck, or shipping / receiving office.
To make this easier for a truck driver, anytime we can wait in the office of the customer to avoid any excessive shaking or jarring versus having to be inside the semi truck. All the better.
Many times, customers will allow this, sometimes it may be required that the truck driver stands in the dock area to inventory/audit the load as explained above. If by chance, this makes you feel uncomfortable.
All you have to do is ask for a chair, more times than not, I have been provided one. It’s easier to sit at times and other times you may prefer to stand and you audit the goods entering or exiting your trailer. It’s simple things like this that can make all the difference to an aging truck driver.
Maybe the above is just TO EASY, need some umph?
If you’re looking for something that could help you stay in shape since we know truck drivers don’t have as much time normally to set aside a ton of exercise time.
There are lots of ways to accomplish this, however, it may not be as easy as some from the above. For example, Flat Bed trailers.
Truck drivers that haul flatbeds are normally lifting various tarps that weigh up to and around 150 lbs in weight. Not to mention that they also have to throw straps over the freight possibly prior to tarping it. Now I only have about a legitimate week worth of experience in flat bedding.
So good for me, I have a few good friends that are still flatbed haulers (Flatbedder’s). I asked them a bunch of questions and asked about a bunch of scenarios. Here’s what my buddies told me basically.
When it’s windy, the job becomes 10 times or more, more difficult. Especially when its windy and snowing or raining outside. Being physically strong is about half of the equation, you also have to have some balance to be on top of your freight, while securing it and tarping it.
At the same time, not all loads will require to be tarped. Just as not all loads will require to have chains to secure it. Overall the difficulty of flat bedding can be easy on some days and on other days can be physically exhausting.
If you feel some physical lifting of tarps while balancing from a ladder or cranking down straps or chains is right up your alley of ease. Then maybe being a flatbed truck driver could be your cup of tea.
Though if you like the idea of flatbed hauling, but don’t really like the idea of having to lift tarps a lot. There is always Over Sized.
From what I understand from my one buddy truck driver. Is that most truck drivers get into Over Size after they’ve been in flat bedding for a duration of time. This can be 6 months up to a couple of years. Which is mostly dependent on the Trucking Company you drive for.
With Over Sized, you still have chains and binders and flags you stick on your freight and semi truck. Though using a tarp could happen, but not nearly as often as just flat bedding. The reason why Over Sized is physically easier is mostly due to the reduced use of tarps.
Don’t be fooled though. With the reduction of physical labor, an amplification of mental use becomes more persistent. You have to think, how to secure this oversized freight so that it doesn’t fall off your trailer at any point in time. You have to think, how to set up your flags so that the public can see the overhanging portions from a distance. You have to be more mindful when traveling due to your excessive size of freight.
Also, you have to be more mindful of what may be or could be further up the road that you have yet to see. Normally, it takes Over Sized haulers a longer amount of time to travel the same distance as it may other truck drivers.
Since in many areas they have different rules, regulations, routes they can and can not travel and usually have a slower speed limit they must follow that is not normally publicly displayed on the roadway.
If you like your mind to be challenged, and you don’t mind the cranking down on binders trying to tighten down chains while possibly on a ladder. If you feel you up for it. Maybe something like oversized would be easy for an aging truck driver. Just keep in mind, most places want you to have a certain amount of flat bedding experience to get into this.
Same could hold true for Bulk Truck Drivers. These drivers haul liquids inside of tanks. They are also known as Tanker Truck Drivers. Sometimes having a hazardous endorsement is required. However, we’re talking about how easy is this in this article.
Tankers usually have some hoses they have to handle, and attach to pumps or to fittings within manholes and silos. In addition to this physical labor, they also have to cone off an area when at a gas station for example.
Now, this may not appear to be as physical as a flat bedder for example purposes. However, in a cold climate, hoses may not want to bend as you would want them to. Connecting hoses to the items listed may not feel as easy as it would in warmer climates.
Besides these things, you have to keep in mind, a lot of liquids inside of a tanker semi truck trailer are hazardous materials. So that brings a whole new mental state within it. Simply for the fact of safety in general, you the truck driver’s safety and safety for the public.
Mix that with a bit more paperwork that you are responsible for and have to check to ensure you have the correct paperwork. Now we’re talking a lot to keep track of. Which may or not be easy for some truck drivers to handle and keep track of.
There are a bunch of other freight types that I could include here. Though this article is about what freight types may be easier than others, or at least easier for an aging truck driver like me.
A few more to add a little bit of food for thought include:
- Auto Carrier Transport Hauler – Very physically induced due to you are chaining and strapping to secure vehicles. You the truck driver are also at times climbing up and down the side of your semi truck and trailer. Squeezing in and out of doors that you can not open fully. Lifting yourself out of the tiny area between the car interior and the limited space you managed to open the door. Plus more paperwork than many other freight types.
- Dump Trailer – Pushing levers or buttons to make the trailer lift to empty can be pretty easy at times. Though many times you have to get a shovel or rake and climb into the trailer and remove the excess earth or pebble or etc. A bit of climbing and shoveling may be easy for some but if I had bad knees I’m not sure if I could handle it.
- Bull Hauler – Hauling cattle can be a bit challenging at times. How often do most people attempt to move a cow for example. Sure theirs prods and etc that help. Sometimes though, cattle can be more stubborn than some truck drivers including me. Regardless, the cow in this example still needs to be moved to maybe up the trailer more. That way other cows can board. Plus, most cattle have a hard time showering. So if you have allergies, to pets and hay for that matter. This may be a difficult thing for you to do. I know if I’m around cat’s I get this allergic reaction that makes my eyes itch, my nose stuffed up and before I know it, my eyes feel swollen.
My point with this extra ones being written here. Is that their different ways something could be easy for one truck driver but difficult for another truck driver. This all falls back on the original answer of, “The type of freight that is easy, is dependent on how well the truck driver knows them self and they’re abilities.”
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