If it was easy, everyone would do it!
I’m talking about professional truck drivers. I know that in any profession there are challenges. But in the trucking world, the word “challenge” is an everyday occurrence that a professional driver overcomes without thinking about it.
For those who aren’t in the trucking industry, it may be hard to imagine what challenges drivers would have to overcome. There are a lot of areas where the driver not only has to know how to drive, but they must also be a computer technician, a mechanic, a secretary, a customer service person, a warehouse worker, a forklift driver, a traffic manager, a trip planner, a problem solver, and the list goes on.
If that seems like a lot. It is! Imagine doing all of those things as a part of your work day. There are a lot of demands on professional drivers today. The stress of driving on the roads with the general public, handling an 80,000+ pound rig, making sure not to hit anything or anyone, and arriving at your destination on time and in one piece with the freight intact. This can be a daunting task, especially if you’re travelling across North America.
All too often, I remember getting that dispatch message to go to a shipper in Toronto, Ontario and load for Los Angeles, California. It certainly requires a lot of planning. Assuming your equipment is ready to go and has been pre-tripped, the first thing is making sure you have the correct information. Where to load and unload. The next is to drive to the shipper and load the freight correctly so that you aren’t overweight or too heavy, either on the front or back of the trailer. This is mostly the shipper’s deal, but not always. There are different weight restrictions, tolerances, and hours of service in Canada and the USA.
Now we’re loaded and ready to go? Check all the paperwork to make sure it has the correct information on it, then get the cross-border paperwork ready with the help of the company. Off we go? Not quite! The route choice is extremely important here as we are travelling a great distance. There are many ways we could go. The shortest route is usually the best, but not in all cases. We have to plan that out before we leave. Where are the rest stops? How many miles can I drive each day? Where can I safely stop for fuel, food, and rest? Is there any construction along the way? The load pay is based on mileage for the shortest distance from place to place, so you don’t want to deviate from that if you can help it.
The drive from the shipper to the receiver is a long one and can take 3-4 days, depending on how much you drive and where you are going. It’s approximately 2500 miles to the destination. Most drivers drive between 2500-2800 miles/week on average. That is about 500-600 miles/day of driving. That sounds easy enough, right? It can be, if you’ve done it a few times. Imagine doing this every week, day in and day out, year after year. Because, now that you’re at the receiver, you have to reload and drive all the way back, hoping that you won’t have any breakdowns or issues along the way. Remember, you are only allowed to drive a maximum of 70 hours in 7 days. Sounds crazy, given that most people work 40-50 hours a week.
As you can see, this trip will take you over a week to complete if everything goes according to plan (which is not always the case). When you get back home after 8-10 days, you are usually tired and want to get out of the truck for a rest. That may be a couple of days in most cases, then back out again. Another thing to consider is the fact that you are away from home and your family for all this time. You see your partner and children a couple of days/week and that’s it. The mental strain this can have on your relationships is extremely high. Which is why it’s so important to keep a connection and good communication while on the road.
Going back to my original statement “If it was easy, everyone would do it,” doesn’t sound so easy after all. A professional driver works very hard to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families. It takes a special kind of person to be able to do this job, providing the products for our supply chain. Truckers are a proud bunch and they really do care about you, the general public.
So, when you see a trucker out on the road, please keep this in mind and thank them for what they do. #thankatrucker
Until next time…