In a previous post I talked about how to survive as a trucker’s wife. One of the ways was to learn more about life as a trucker. I found this post called 8 Facts About the Truck Driver Way of Life
Once again, the list, and my personal take on it. My thoughts might not match other trucker’s experiences.
Fact 1: Days can begin early, or can start late in the night.
This is very true. Michael often leaves at 4am to pick up his tractor from the yard.
Fact 2: ” You may be expected to work up to 70 hours over an eight-day period. After you’ve worked for 70 hours, you cannot drive again until you take a full 34 hours off duty. The 70-hour limit could be reached by working 14-hour days, but you cannot drive for more than 11 hours in a day. You must conclude your “Hours of Service” with a 10-hour break.”
Wait.. so when is he working again?
I had to direct quote this one, because there is no easier way to summarize. Is that not the most convoluted set of instructions? And they don’t get a full 2 day weekend… 34 hours??? Who in the heck came up with that number?
Fact 3: Most drivers get paid by the mile.
So if you are stopped, you are NOT getting paid. But you are required to take a minimum of 10 hours off WHEREVER you happen to be, so for that 10 hours away from your family you are NOT getting paid… Just making that clear. For 10 hours of every 20 to 24 hour period truckers are stuck wherever they run out of their 11 hour drive time/14 hour “work” day. If you are lucky or plan well, you might be near a bathroom.
This also doesn’t count the NUMEROUS times that Michael shows up on time only to be told the load won’t be ready for several more hours. Sometimes it will not be ready till the next day! So he sits and waits and is NOT getting paid.
Fact 4: “Paid Miles”
There are various ways to pay a trucker. I believe most are paid practical miles (actual miles driven) but some are on what is known as “Paid Miles”, which are miles as the crow flies. A straight line drawn on a map from point A to point B. The IRS doesn’t even calculate miles that stingy…
Fact 5: “Often, you won’t know what you’ll be paid until the end of a year. A good estimate would be $35,000 in your first year, and $45,000 to $55,000 thereafter.”
For that income, truckers have to have very specialized training. They also have to cover ALL of their expenses on the road, including food, showers, medical insurance, dental insurance, etc. If they feel spendy and are lucky enough to stop near one, they might splurge on a real bed in a hotel for the night. To make the high income bracket, you have to either drive hazmat, become a trainer, or push every minute of drive time you can. 11 hours driving not stop, 10 hour break. No frills.
Fact 6: “Drop and Hooks” or Loading?
A drop and hook is just that. The trucker “drops” their current trailer, and picks up or “hooks” a different trailer for their next leg of the journey. Sweet!
If the trucker is loading and unloading their shipment, that could take 1-3 hours out of their day. Remember getting paid by the mile I mentioned earlier? If 3 hours of work time is spent loading or unloading the trailer the tractor is not moving, the trucker is not getting paid for those hours.
Fact 7: 120,000 miles per year=2500 per week=500 miles per day
I think the most I have driven in one day is not quite 400, and I was beat. Plus, I could stop to pee or eat just about anywhere I wanted. There were no signs on the roads saying “No Trucks”. I don’t have a GPS monitoring system telling me when I can or cannot stop to stretch my legs, or get some food. If I need to take a nap because I am tired, I am not forced to take a 10 hour break so I can start my shift over again.
Fact 8: Most of your working days are spent in an 8′ x 8′ space.
That is smaller than most bedrooms, and that is where you live. A tiny house without any actual house amenities. The cab of the tractor makes up a large portion of that space, and then you have a bunk to sleep on. If you are not an owner/operator, you are lucky if you are the only one driving that trailer, so you are the only one using the bunk.
This is not all there is to being a trucker, but they are the highlights of the working end. Being propositioned by prostitutes at rest stops and truck stops apparently didn’t make the list, but that is also part of the life. Eating crappy meals, or snack foods for 5-6 days in a row is another.
The first thing Michael wants to do when he gets home is have a home cooked meal. Then usually sleep.