From time to time I see this question asked in various different places. So I thought that I could help some people out by answering it.
The average normal day of a truck driver looks a little bit like:
- Self Proficient and Self Motivated.
- Like the Best Day ever.
- Like the Worse Day ever.
- At times possibly lonely.
- At other times, unbelievable.
- Mixed with a bit of “Hurry Up And Wait.”
- Some days your ability to be a safe truck driver will be greatly tested more so than other days.
- Each day is a different day.
To some people, this may not make any sense or be a bit confusing. I drew out the main key components in the idea of summarizing the answer to provide a quick and easy answer for everyone. If you would like to know more about the good, the great, the bad and the ugly of truck driving. Read what I have written below.
How Does A Truck Driver’s Normal Day Start?
Most Semi Truck Driver’s will awake from the bunk area within the Semi Truck. Sometimes there are twin sized bunk beds, sometimes just a single twin, some even have full a larger sized beds. But we’ll get into all that some other time.
After waking, it’s just like with anyone else being anywhere else. We all have our own morning or waking hours routine we do before we do anything. Some want to smoke a cigarette, some may need coffee, some may just want to veg out for a moment, and so forth. Normal just like everyone else.
Once we get past the awakening phase. Get our boots or shoes on. Finish up with the awakening routine. Maybe ate breakfast, maybe purchased some items to last till lunch time. We head back to the semi-truck.
Once all of our personal things we do before starting are complete. It’s time to get the semi truck ready to roll down the road. Before we can do this though, we must do a Pre-Trip Inspection that is mandated by a couple of government agencies. FSCMA and DOT.
What this consists of is checking a wide range of components and parts on the semi truck and on the trailer being pulled by the semi truck.
This goes for everything from lights, tires, brakes, airlines, belts, high beam, and low beam, s cam’s, a whole lot of things that should take you at least 10 to 15 minutes of your time to check.
This is a very important step before driving the semi truck. It’s this step that helps reduce the risks of driving a semi-truck and helps reduce the risks of unexpected time wasted due to a breakdown.
It helps reduce the risk by having any malfunctions or broken components fixed before traveling down the road in the semi truck. For example, some trailers have tires on them called a “Recap”.
To sum up what this is is it’s a tire that has a new tread pattern on it, that has been re-glued or resurfaced to a tire. When this malfunctions and the tread comes off as one solid piece (also known as a gator).
This piece alone is capable of going through a windshield on a car, this recap is capable of taking the head off of a motorcyclist. This is just one component of many on the entire semi-truck and trailer and it alone can do this to people if malfunctions while traveling down the road in a semi truck.
For reasons like this and others, is why it’s important to do routine inspections on the semi truck and trailer prior to driving it.
So let’s pretend we have our ELD (Electronic Logging Device) we go On – Duty – Not – Driving and we input pre-trip on it. Let’s say we have our pre-trip done, we spent 15 minutes walking around and checking everything out.
Nothing was wrong except one tail light on the trailer was not working so we changed the light out and replaced with a new tail light and everything works now. Seems pretty easy right?
Right, truck driving can be very easy at times. Now let’s say on our ELD we change our input to Driving. Now we have to take into account the time because from the time we started our Pre Trip to 8 hour’s later, we must have a 30-minute break in there somewhere before the strike of that 8th hour.
(I always set an alarm on my cell phone at 7 hours later from the time I began my Pre Trip, just because it helps me remember. I am accustomed to doing more driving then truck stops touring.)
Now let’s say, we pull out of the truck stop where we were parked. Now we are set to start trucking down the highway to our destination we must be at, by a certain time frame. Normally the appointments that are set for delivery or pickup are pretty reasonable.
Reasonable enough that if there was a couple of delays, should still have no problem making it on time. It’s during these drives I have seen some remarkable things.
For example, if I was never a truck driver. I can honestly say I would have NEVER:
Drove a Semi Truck with a 53′ Dry Van on the scariest of all possible roads in my opinion in the USA. I’d like to take a brief moment and thank a certain state for this. If it wasn’t for this particular state, I would have never known how close you can get to something and not hit it. Hello West Virginia!
Off the main interstate highways, and outside of the normal major cities. This is what you will find in some areas in the much higher elevations.
Extremely tight curves limited visibility even in perfect weather. Steep upgrades with matching steep downgrades. The key to this. Be safe, go slow as needed, and do not get into a rush because you have no clue what is up ahead. The old saying goes, you can go down a hill to slow an infinite number of times, but you can only go down a hill to fast once.
If it wasn’t for truck driving I would have never ever in my life seen a grasshopper that is most of the size of a glass star bucks vanilla flavored cold drink. This guy was enormous. I had no clue what to feed it.
I was going to let it go at a later time. My dear friend Mr. Hoppa ended up with heat stroke at a very unknown age. Due to someone not only failing to put holes in the lid of the glass house. But someone also stuck the glass house on the floor of a semi truck near the gear shifter.
Under normal circumstances, the floor of a semi truck does tend to get warm sometimes. This with no cup of water to drink with Mr. Hoppa’s little hands, no food to eat on a little plate. Not even a barbie doll house chair to sit in.
It gives me great displeasure to let everyone know that Mr. Hoppa is in a better place.
If it wasn’t for truck driving, I may have not been here this day in Missouri. If I wasn’t here on this day, the van to the left that ran into the back of a semi that was then hit by another van, may of run into by a semi truck other than mine that is the car hauler that’s about to go for a sled ride.
If I wasn’t here this day, the lady driving the van to the left, may have died on scene. I held her head because she couldn’t move her neck, asked her questions, kept her awake with the help of my wife who was on the phone with me since she was an EMT in another state till emergency personnel arrived.
It’s these things, going above and beyond that make a normal day a different kind of day. We can hope for the best, schedule ourselves in a manner that we feel is going to make today a great day. Just because we plan things this way, doesn’t mean it will be good or bad.
Sometimes in a regular normal day, you never know who you may or not get to meet. Does anyone know the Chrome Shop Mafia? Yeah me either. However, I have met several other infamous people.
I have met major league professional baseball players. I have met the actors and actresses. I have met famous TV personalities and a couple of models. Now, this was all mostly due to car hauling. Can’t say I met anyone pulling anything else.
However, it’s not impossible. I did meet 1 very and I mean very wealthy lady once and she use to be an actress. Has her own tv channel.. hint hints.. Anyways, I met her just as began my “professional” Truck Driving Career.
As you can see, the amount of positive or exciting things you can find to get into, can at times feel unlimited. There are so many things you can find. Normally the hard part with this and truck driving. Is the making a way, for you to do what you want to do.
What I mean is, a semi truck can’t be parked just anywhere like a car can for example. With a semi truck, your better off pre-planning where you’re going to park at, rather than try to find a spontaneous location to park at.
Though if you’re the more spontaneous type, there is a couple of really good truck stop guides you could get and use as a reference. Another good option is finding a business that has a somewhat large enough parking lot that you could do a U-Turn in.
Park with your flashers on, go inside and just ask them if you can park there for a predetermined amount of time. Sometimes they say, sure no problem, sometimes they start on an excuse if they’re insurance won’t allow it.
Whichever direction they respond, just be pleasant and thank them for taking the time to talk to you. If they basically tell you no, well you have to leave and ask the next one.
At the same time of all these wonderful and great things, we as truck drivers get to see and experience. There are some things I wish I didn’t:
The day I was traveling in Missouri and a lady in a van lost control of her van because she was dipping her potato chip into the chip dip. Snow covered road, fast and heavy snowfall, she was speeding, just as the van behind her, was also speeding.
I and the semi truck in front of me were traveling 25 mph with our hazard lights on in the slow lane in a 65 mph zone because that’s how bad the weather was.
This lady lost control of her van, she ran into the semi-truck trailer ahead of me, when her van hit the trailer, the van behind her, hit the back of her van. For me to avoid that collision and that accident scene.
I ended up getting the steer axle on the 10 car auto carrier I was driving, sunken into the snow, mud, dirt mixture. Every hour that my truck sat there on the side of the highway stuck, it slid 3″ more away from the highway and towards the ditch.
After I exited my semi truck after pulling the air brakes and I ran to her van, I opened her door, and with the help of my wife (my wife is an ex EMD) I was able to keep her conscious till emergency equipment arrived.
A semi truck that was stuck like mine was normally costs a bit more than just a couple grand to get unstuck with a heavy tow truck. Only because I avoided the accident (if I had not avoided it, there would have been multiple deaths) and since I helped on the scene.
The total fee to my semi truck to get unstuck was $100. This is not the only time I have witnessed an accident. I have been purposely run into in Monroe OH by a guy that decided to make a left turn into me.
As I went by him (he was waiting to make a left turn into a grocery store) doing 5 under the speed limit. He smacks into my drive axle with his car.
While waiting for the emergency officials, he and I had a conversation just like you would with any other person on a nice warm day. The moment the cops and the ambulance appeared on the scene.
This is what I heard from him, “ohhhh, my neck, please someone help me, ohhh my back, please help me, this truck driver ran into me, ohhhh”. He was cited on the stretcher by the cops for failure to yield to oncoming traffic.
Again, this is not the end of these kinds of things I have been exposed to. Other negative types of things to include are:
- When asked what do I do for a living and I respond with “I’m a truck driver” I don’t get treated so nicely all the time. Maybe some, but not all.
- Sometimes when you are at a customer because you have to be there, they tell you they do not provide restrooms to truck drivers. Not all are like this, but some are.
- Traffic fines for Truck Drivers are multiple times more than for regular people driving regular vehicles.
- General public assumes you are not of any intellect because you only drive a semi-truck.
Back to driving. We’re driving along in our semi truck and we embrace all these things. We’re enjoying the sunshine in our face and the tunes on the radio.
Truck drivers don’t talk as much on the CB Radio as they use to a few years ago. (Unless you’re parked in a Truck Stop they tend to talk a bit more due to boredom I think sometimes.)
However, you can still get a bear report from time to time (different kinds of bears are for different kinds of police. Circus Bear equals a cop on a motorcycle for example. Here’s the link to the Trucker Lingo Page here within SemiTruckDriver.com)
We hear there are no bears in sight, hammer down.. So we continue to cruise at our governed less than the actual speed limit speed. We see car’s passing us by with kids giving us the honk the air horn sign.
We gladly honk it a bit more than should for them and proceed down the road.