A Day in the Life of a Trucker

day in the life of a trucker

Trucking jobs vary from over-the-road trucking to driving locally for delivery companies or retail establishments. The jobs and regulations for each type of job are very different. Over the road truckers have the strictest regulations as they must abide by hours of service guidelines. Local truckers are bound by some regulations but may also have stricter company rules.

Local Truckers
As of 2018, the median pay for delivery truck drivers was $14.66 per hour or $30,500 per year. The job growth outlook is a bit on the slow side as local truck driving jobs are in higher demand because you get to go home at the end of the day. Still, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that another 55,200 people will be needed to fill local delivery jobs between by 2026.

In addition to being home every day, these short-haul drivers are not bound to some of the strict hours of service regulations that over-the-road truckers face because they work daily.

Regional Truckers
Regional truckers may be paid like short-haul truckers or like over-the-road truckers, depending on the size of the region. A trucker working for a regional company may be on the road for one day at a time or a couple of days, also depending on the size of the region.

Over-the-Road Truckers
According to the BLS, in 2018, big rig drivers had a median salary of $43,680 per year or $21 per hour. No experience is needed. And it’s fairly easy to get hired—you just need a CDL before you will be able to apply for a truck driving job. The job outlook for over-the-road truckers is projected to be as fast as normal with the industry anticipating 108,400 trucking jobs to open up by 2026.

A Day in the Life
Different types of jobs have different requirements. A daily driver is home every day. A regional driver may be home every day or at least every couple of days, depending on the size of the region. However, a long-haul driver may be away from home for weeks at a time. All drivers are required to have time out of the seat, though daily drivers or short-haul drivers are not required to abide by the hours of service regulations because they are typically not in the seat for over 8 to 10 hours.

A long-haul driver may be on the road for days at a time, which means that he or she must stop at truck stops to shower, stretch their legs and get some down time. Long-haul drivers eat at restaurants. They may have a small microwave in the truck for quick meals, but if they want a full meal, a restaurant it is. Because it is important that a long-haul driver makes deliveries on time, he or she must be able to schedule his driving time accordingly.

Hours of Service
Part of the problem with scheduling is accounting for delays. If a delivery has to be 1,500 miles away, a driver must figure time for mandatory breaks and sleep time. The driver cannot drive the 1,500 miles straight through. Electronic log devices are integrated with the truck’s computer and give information about the trip including speed, miles driven and the amount of time the truck was on the road. The electronic logs are to keep drivers from breaking the hours of service regulations.

A trucker has an 11-hour driving limit after 10 consecutive hours of off-duty time. Additionally, a driver may not drive after the 14th hour of being on duty. And drivers must take a 30-minute break for every 8 hours in the seat. This rule does not apply to short-haul drivers.

In addition to these rules, a driver may not drive more than 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight consecutive days. Drivers also have other provisions they must abide by in the hours of service regulations.

Pay Variances
Some drivers make quite a bit more than the average amount that long-haul drivers are usually paid. These types of jobs involve extra dangers, such as carrying flammable materials or over-sized loads. Other drivers are paid more because of the locations they drive. Drivers who drive only in mountainous regions may make more than other drivers. Specialty drivers, such as those who drive the ice roads in Canada and Alaska, also make more than the average driver. They are usually not paid by the mile because many of the ice road lake crossings require the drivers to go as slow as 6 mph (ca. 10 kilometers per hour) to 9 mph (ca. 14 kilometers per hour) so as not to create large waves under the ice.

Contact Southwest Truck Driver Training
If you are ready to travel the country or think that driving in extreme conditions is exciting, visit Southwest Truck Driver Training school to learn more about driving careers and other careers in the trucking industry.