Why would anyone not want to become a truck driver is a simple question? Though simple, it can grow to an enormous amount of information, rather quickly. This is not meant to be a negative informative article. Instead, this article is meant to be an educational tool for you to use.
An article of secrets that most truckers think about and often say things like “If I would have known back then what I know now, I would have never started trucking.” To save you a lifetime of heartache and pain, and to educate you at the same time. Keep these following secrets in your mind if in case you are deciding to become a truck driver. Either for yourself with your own semi truck, or as a company truck driver!
Top 17 Secret Reasons NOT To Become A Trucker!
17. You Are In A Relationship
When your single and starting out in trucking everything is great. The lifestyle of an Over The Road (OTR) Truck Driver can become consumed with being away from home.
It’s just not that your away from home for a couple of days at a time, at times you could be gone for multiple weeks. I have a buddy that use to stay out on the road for 3 months at a time. When you have a spouse, a relationship, being a truck driver makes having relationships hard at times.
Some trucking companies will let you bring your significant other with you, though this is not always the case. If you have your own semi truck, well then this is a bit easier.
A long distance relationship can work, however, the honest truth is that more fail than actually work out. Sometimes this failure is because of either person’s inability to be faithful. Other times, it’s the amount of time not spent together that puts the toll on the relationship.
16. You Have Children
When you are a truck driver, and you have kids at home that don’t understand why you never come home. It’s hard to explain in a manner they will easily understand. Not only is it hard to explain, but it will pull your heartstrings, unlike anything you could have ever felt before your in life.
As an OTR trucker, you will miss most things. Even as a Regional Truck Driver, you will still miss things, maybe not as often. Though still often enough to be worthy of considering within this article.
Seeing that first tooth become loose, and falling out. Witnessing those first baby steps. Attending school events like sports or plays also become something you hear about rather than taking part in.
The biggest reason that surpasses all of these, is that you will most likely not have the chance to watch your children grow up. I’m sorry, but I have to be honest. I have been trucking since January 2000. I have kids, and I have missed almost everything.
I have to make it a scheduled point to not miss Christmas with my wife and children. Thanksgivings are a hit or miss. As are most holidays you would like to spend with your children. Local fair events, forget about them, not going to happen along with countless other things I could list here.
15. You Are A Social Butterfly
If you desire physical human contact or require it daily, or even on a regular basis you will not like trucking. Sure, you could spend the majority of your time inside the truck stop, talking with all of the truck drivers that come and go.
Though if you never leave the truck stop, you won’t make any money. So you will at some point start driving. While driving, you will spend at times up to 7 hours and 45 minutes alone, by yourself. Before you have another chance to socialize with others. Each and every day that you drive.
Once you park after your driving time, your mandatory break is 30 minutes long. Then at times, you have to drive the remaining time of your 11 hours of drive time in most cases. By the time you park your truck, everyone you know is sleeping.
This is the day in and day out of trucking. Alone the majority of the time, with mostly only yourself to rely on. Once or twice a day you may speak with your dispatcher, maybe a couple of your friends on the phone. Other than this, you have to entertain yourself.
14. You Don’t Like Spontaneous Adventures
Every day as a truck driver is a different day. Having a routine of things you do, is the basis of safety. Though the routine of your work day is always changing or evolving. You could be in the same city multiple times.
Though the cars that pass you are different, the traffic may act differently. The scenery may be different. Many times the location you are traveling to, you have never been to before. Many places are unfamiliar, unknown and at times you may feel unsafe.
Truck driving is a lot like a new adventure every waking day. Either the weather is different, traffic is different, road conditions may be different or something is different. Maybe this is the day your semi truck breaks down just as you attempt to exit the truck stop.
13. City Life Is Your Thing
As a truck driver, if you are a local truck driver you can very well see a lot of the large city in the area that you live. Though if you are not a local driver. You can almost guarantee that you are going to see fields of open wilderness.
You will see mountains that you wished you never had to go up and over in the middle of winter. You’re going to lose radio stations and find yourself completely bored while trucking down the open road. You may have saved music on your cell phone or an external hard drive.
If you think you are going to check out the party scene in various big cities, it is doable, though it is not as easy as one may think. You can not park a semi truck just about anywhere like we can with a personal vehicle, like a car.
You will spend more time looking out the window, passing through big cities, then attending any fun possibilities.
12. You Don’t Like Driving
Truck driving is driving with a very large vehicle that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds or more, based on if your an oversize hauler or not. If are not, then most likely your gross vehicle weight (GVW) will never be over 80,000 pounds.
For some people, driving either aggravates them or makes them feel really uncomfortable. I don’t mean the kind of uncomfortable that you can deal with and carry on about your day. The other kind, the kind that makes you grab the steering wheel so tight your knuckles turn white.
The type that once you’ve let go of the steering wheel, you can feel the circulation return to your fingers. Driving is not for everyone.
It’s possible that extremely heavy traffic like Chicago or L.A. during rush hour times can make you feel claustrophobic. This isn’t the case for everyone, for some, it is though.
When you’re driving a semi-truck. You can see further ahead unless you are behind another semi truck. At times you have more time to react if you practice safe driving habits.
Though it’s the moments when you react and then also overreact in addition to originally reacting. That can cause an unsafe moment to become an extremely unsafe moment in time.
11. Truck Driving Is Dangerous
Truck driving has been in the top 10 of the most dangerous jobs throughout America consecutively for more than 20 years. Forbes listed truck driving at number 8 based on this slide show they created.
A few weeks or so ago I also wrote a complete article pointing out all of the dangers associated with trucking that you can find here in this article, that is located here on SemiTruckDriver.com.
It’s more than your own capability to be safe. You have to take into account that at any given moment, something else can change your day dramatically.
The weather, other people traveling including other truck drivers. There’s a slight chance to everything in trucking. That slight chance is your calculation of risk plus a little luck that you’re able to maintain awareness well enough to avoid as many dangers as possible.
10. Truck Drivers Are Not Treated Fairly
If you view things as life is not fair, well you will definitely dislike trucking. Many times, fairness is the last thing on anyone’s mind. Take for example these few topics:
Not every customer will allow truck drivers to use their restrooms.
Not every customer will allow truck drivers to park overnight on they’re property even if have the extra room.
Police will at times ask you to leave an open parking area (ie: abandoned private property), even though you are currently on your mandatory DOT break and there are no signs indicating no parking.
Sections of society even treat truckers as unintelligent worker ants. Trucker drivers are often spoken down to. Truckers are spoken to in a manner where others believe they are superior for one reason or another. That is normally based on the idea only because they themselves are not a truck driver.
9. You Will Work Extremely Long Hours
Trucking isn’t like most occupations where you do your 9 – 5 job and then go home. It’s a day in and day out type of occupation. Meaning that most likely you will work anywhere from 10 to 16 or more hours a day.
If we take into account that most truck drivers are routed in the idea that they can drive up to 11 hours per a 14 hour period of time. Plus they can be On-Duty for up to 8 hours at a time before a regulated break must take place.
That regulated break is only for 30 minutes. Most truckers work a minimum of 11 hours every single day. With drive time and on duty not driving time combined. I myself have worked days where I legally worked 18 hours in a single day.
This was not a one-time occurrence. There were many times I worked more than 15 hours a day. Even though a truck driver is not legally allowed to drive more than 11 hours within a 14 hour period of time.
There is nothing stating that a truck driver is not allowed to perform duty functions outside of driving beyond that allotted time frame. These duty functions could include, but are not limited to:
Loading / Unloading a trailer with freight.
Repairing a malfunction.
Rearranging your load.
The above few topics give you an idea of how a trucker can quickly rack up additional time working. Normally, truckers are paid per mile. This extra time is not usually paid for in many cases. Some trucking companies may pay for the extra time.
Though to be honest most will not.
8. The Risk Is Not Worth The Reward
As stated in number 9 of this list. Some things you simply do not receive a wage for. For example, it is standard practice for the most part for a trucker to remain docked for up to 2 hours before detention pay may begin.
These 2 hours of sitting (waiting to be loaded or unloaded) is the amount of time the trucking company gives the customer to perform their duties as a customer, to ensure you are on your way to the next place in a timely manner.
However, during these 2 hours, sometimes you may “volunteer” to help load or unload to speed up the program so you can proceed ahead sooner rather than later. Volunteering does not pay you anything. Waiting to be finished does not pay you anything.
Some companies will offer you “break down pay”. Though most write this in the idea with the fine print saying something like “We’ll give you $50 for the day if you have to get a hotel room due to the truck being in the shop for more than 24 hours.” 50 bucks for 24 hours, interesting.
A New Driver out of trucking school can make $0.25 a mile, multiplied by an easy 500-mile run, equals $125. See where I’m going with this?
Not only this, but trucking is dangerous. Even though as dangerous as it is, most truck drivers gross an annual wage that is far less than other occupations that are not nearly as dangerous.
7. Trucking Is An Expensive Occupation
When you’re at home and going to the supermarket, the cost of items feels normal for what your accustom to for your area. Once you get out on the open road, you quickly see how buying stuff at home to bring with you is a cheaper alternative.
When you run out of supplies, or there is not a supermarket in the area that you can safely park in. Your only choice that is left is buying items from truck stops.
In current times, a 20 oz bottle of water in a truck stop will normally cost you about $1.00 to $1.50 or more than it would in your regular supermarket near your home. Same applies to soda and many other items.
On top of items costing you extra cash. Other amenities also become an additional expense. At many of the truck stops, they have a deal where if you purchase x gallons of fuel then you will receive a free shower.
Sometimes your not allowed to purchase fuel at a particular truck stop due to the trucking company you drive for. Or maybe your fuel tanks are full and you plan on doing a 34-hour restart while there. The shower cost goes from free, to being up to as high as $20.
Some places that don’t offer the free shower deal, instead offer free parking for the same theory of fuel purchasing. But again, if you are not able to take advantage of the deals. You are looking as high as $25 to park for a 12 hour period of time. In some locations, they may allow 24-hour parking.
These do not overlap into additional days. These expenses are per use.
6. Forced Dispatch
Unless you are an Owner Operator, you will most likely drive for a trucking company that enforces “Forced Dispatch”. In a nutshell, this means, they tell you where to go, and you go there with no if’s and’s or but’s.
Sometimes this mentality seeps over into the unsafe area of things. For instance, some dispatchers will say that either you start moving that load and drive in the snowstorm, or you can plan on being fired.
Myself, I’ll get fired every time especially if I feel the danger is life-threatening. Heavy snowfall and icy roads mixed with some wind will easily become an adventure you never want to have.
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