Truck drivers are known for efficiency, street savvy and their tricks. Their competitive industry is worth billions of dollars and it is critically important to the economy, so much so that seasoned Wall Street investors even monitor demand for trucking and new truck orders, as an indicator of where the stock market is going.
This profession is the backbone of the economy and it is skill-demanding, in many ways. It also hides many secrets, essential for a competing truck driver career.
1. Avoiding Slow Traffic and Traffic Jams
Every experienced truck driver makes use of GPS enabled tools, such as Google Maps to avoid getting slowed down in traffic. But even this technology sometimes proves unreliable. Their true edge is their network of Citizen Band radios or CB radios. Just by asking on their CB radio, a truck driver will know the true traffic in a specific part of a road. This information is confirmed visually by another truck driver who has just been there.
It’s unlikely that a traffic problem will not be spotted by a trucker, who in turn will warn all other truckers in the area.
2. Diagnosing and Repairing on the Spot
Even minor delays cost a trucking company a lot of money. These losses can amount to a few billion for the entire industry every year. So to be competitive and stay well paid, a good truck driver should know how to diagnose problems as they happen, and fix these on the spot!
Among the things, truckers need to have with them are mechanics’ tools, duct tape, spare engine oil, and a flashlight. Even a ruptured plastic pipe is enough to cause engine overheating problems, yet it can be repaired fast and be sealed to last the rest of the trip. Many more breakdowns appear to be complicated and they are very-time consuming and costly for professional mechanics to fix, while a wise trucker can get the job done in minutes!
3. Saving Fuel and Time
Truckers are professional drivers who know their vehicles inside-out; they know how to drive for better fuel efficiency and best average speed. These driving methods are actually mathematically derived by engineers and every wise truck driver follows them.
For example, air resistance on the truck will go up four times if the trucker doubles the cruising speed; or applying the brakes during a steep turn rather than slowing down before entering the turn, results in better stability of the vehicle and this saves unnecessary deceleration. Truck drivers know how to handle these seemingly minor factors, the trade-offs, and finally achieve much better trip times and fuel savings as a result.
Deep down all these tricks are about applied physics, however, ordinary drivers are ignorant of their impact.
4. A Trucker’s Salary
The average trucker’s official salary in the US is around $45,000 year. However wise truckers may end up making much more than that, especially drivers who own their trucks. A truck driver career can fetch more than $45,000 a year because the tucker can still transport small time-sensitive loads on trips where they are supposed to travel empty.
It is even possible to work for a courier company at the same time, and deliver small size parcels from A to B. Thereby making an extra income on the side.
Truckers are also allowed to travel onboard boats at reduced or zero cost, as long as they are carrying recyclable materials, such as junk metal. This is an incentive in many parts of the world, to encourage recycling and reduce waste. However, the paying client has no idea that the trucker has saved 50% of the trip by sea, and yet they are probably still charged for it. This trick alone easily makes a truck owner driver an extra $30,000 – $50,000 a year!
5. Strange Places where Truck Drivers Sleep
Many truck freight companies push their drivers to the limit. It is however important for drivers to get proper resting time. Sleep deprivation is a serious cause of traffic accidents, so it cannot be overlooked.
Drivers are allowed to pull over and stop at many spots along the way. But the safest spots during night hours are truck parking lots, large hotels, truck stops or areas where there are other truckers around.
Truck drivers may choose to rent a room, where available, for a full night’s lodging or even sleep inside the truck. All large trucks are equipped with comfortable sleeper cabins. These cabins are more for getting emergency rest; even a 20-minute rest can prevent an accident for a tired truck driver.
Experienced truckers are comfortable to spend the night at any odd place. This could be next to a cemetery, in the middle of nowhere or any place where is least likely to encounter crime.
6. Things Truck Drivers See
Truck drivers experience all kinds of things in their job, anything from criminal attacks and armed robberies to police pursuits. It’s not even uncommon for police officers while pursuing a criminal in light traffic, to contact leading truck drivers on CB radio. They describe the criminal’s car and ask the truckers to prevent that car from overtaking!
Truckers experience traffic accidents, often face armed robbery, and in extreme cases help law enforcement solve difficult crimes, such as kidnappings, murder, etc. The reason is that a truck driver is more likely to stop over to help a stranger or check something suspicious. Ordinary drivers are too scared to get involved. These are things truckers see while driving.
7. Taking Part in Criminal Activities and Smuggling
No professional truck driver wants to be part of the mob, or perform smuggling operations such as fuel smuggling, transportation of unknown goods, etc. However, it’s not possible to ensure 100% legality since the actual load cannot be checked 100%. It is the client’s responsibility to ensure they are doing business on the right side of the law.
However, these are among the things many truckers see while driving. They may spot illegally transported goods or goods that are legal but have been imported illegally into the country without going through the necessary customs checks.
8. Dealing with Work Stress and Long Hours
Every truck driver has experienced long working hours and sleep deprivation in their life. In extreme cases, they may resort to using drugs to save their truck driving career. These are drugs that will help them stay awake for a few more hours. These are light drugs usually in pill form, and though damaging in the long run, they may, in fact, save their job at one time.
Drug use is the last option for a truck driver who wants to make it on time to their destination and yet wants to avoid falling asleep on the wheel. It’s illegal, but it is the ultimate solution. Usually, a safer solution is to have one driver on the truck and split the workload.
9. Making Use of Downtime
Truck drivers get a lot of downtime available in between trips, this allows them to relax, enjoy a local social life, or at least do something else not related to driving. Social contact and relaxing are among the things truckers need.
It is also possible to make use of this downtime in more ways. Some truckers like reading books, expanding their horizons and even running an online business. It doesn’t have to be anything related to trucking.
10. Seeing the World
Truck drivers have the advantage of seeing different cultures, especially on distant trips. Their life may seem routine, but it’s not routine at all. Many successful businessmen are actually former truck drivers, who got their business ideas out of seeing an opportunity between two different parts of the country.
A typical business opportunity arises from the fact that a service that is available in part A of the country, is not yet available in part B, or it could be provided differently. Truckers are among the first to spot such opportunity and know how to make it work. Above all, all businesses rely heavily on transportation, and knowing how to do it better can make all the difference between success and failure. So a trucker’s savvy is priceless!
Conclusion:Truck drivers are overworked people facing risk and danger every day, they are forced to resort to extreme save their job and meet employer’s deadlines. At the same time, they are exposed to a world of opportunity, where they have the chance to earn a very good income without breaking the law. And it is a job sector that will keep on expanding.