Not everyone’s cut out for truck driving. While it has its perks, from being able to drive around the country and meet new people, like any career, it also has its own set of challenges. If the country didn’t have these headstrong drivers working day and night to deliver goods and equipment, then industries would suffer.
For many truckers, the first year on the job is a wake-up call. They learn that driving a big rig truck is different from a conventional automobile. It takes skill, a different outlook of the road and practice. It also means taking one’s home on the road. Becoming a truck driver means parting from one's family for long periods of time.
All jobs have rules, but truck driving rules look a lot different from common careers. It’s a job that has a unique set of rules laid down truck drivers must follow, especially if they want to go far and make it a long-term career.
The rules serve an important purpose though. Not only do they exist to track a driver's time and set up a level of order that allows truckers to operate on the road with others, but it also protects them from harm. There are dangers involved with being a trucker, and many of the rules exist to shield them.
To anyone outside of the truck driving world, these rules—while necessary for truckers to work—seem odd and unusual. We’re going to look at strange rules they have to follow if they want to survive in the rough and tumble world of truck driving, even if it looks weird to the rest of us.
This is a rule truckers have to abide by, or else they might get left in the dust: many have to rise long before the sun does and stop long after it sets. Many truckers have to follow the sun, so to speak.
With weeks that can last—as Jobs.net points out—as many as 70 hours long, it has become a required custom to drive early and late when average workers would ordinarily kick back at home after their shifts.
At the end of a long day, most truckers just want to get a good night’s rest. That can be difficult though when other truck drivers are making their way into a truck stop at the end of their days.
According to Factor Finders, one of the rules to follow is driving in slowly and turning headlights off when entering a truck stop late at night. It’s strange to drive a big rig at night with headlights off, but it’s necessary for these particular situations.
Planning a road trip can be stressful. It’s hard to determine—during longer trips—the number of hours necessary to drive each day. Truckers have to do these sorts of calculations all the time. This is part of what leads to long days of driving.
The site Cracked reports that truckers can’t go beyond 11 hours. It’s strange to have this mandated restriction considering truckers have a deadline to reach, but it’s necessary to keep them from pushing themselves too much. There’s even a way they hold drivers to these limits, which we’ll detail further below.
Music equipment, hot sauce and even—we’re not making this up—ping pong balls, are all real examples of hauls. Truckers have to abide to a strange rule that many may not be willing to accept: you haul whatever they want.
It may not make a lot of sense, or even be the kind of haul one wants to take, but it’s a strange rule one has to follow to make it in the trucking world. At least the wide variety of hauls keeps things interesting.
It isn’t hard for average drivers to accept that getting behind the wheel of a big rig is different from a sedan. When one looks at the rules a big rig ought to follow though, it can come across bizarre.
One example of a big rig rule, as Smart-Trucking reports, is reducing the number of times truckers change lanes. The less they do, the better, because big rigs are a lot bigger, unwieldy and can increase the chances of accidents if they change lanes too often.
Conditions aren’t ideal for truck drivers. Things that common 9 to 5 workers take for granted aren’t as easy to maintain on the road. Those things include proper hygiene, getting ample rest and eating a healthy diet. That last point is hard considering the varying stops, where truckers can’t always bank on the same type of food being available each time they eat.
According to an anonymous trucker who wrote for The Guardian, food is lousy on the road. It may sound strange, but truckers have to accept lack of quality in their food.
The way truckers get paid is different from an ordinary office job. While those jobs tend to pay according to when workers clock in and out, a trucker is all about distance traveled.
According to Cracked, truck drivers get money for how far they go no matter how long it takes. They go on to point out that if a trucker gets hampered down by something that’s out of his control, like traffic or roadwork, then it could make the trip less worth it.
Truckers can haul any number of things across the country. Whatever a trucker hauls, more than likely it’s going to be valuable. As Factor Finders notes, it’s best if truckers keep tight-lipped about what it is they’re carrying, or else it could put their cargo at risk.
If something were to happen to it, and others managed to get away with any part of a trucker’s haul, it could be his job on the line. This is a rule a trucker should follow if they want to keep their job.
At most jobs, workers get in trouble when they’re on Facebook. Truckers, on the other hand, depend on it. It’s so essential to their jobs that it’s become something of a rule if they want to make it. According to Dollar Shave Club, truckers don’t use CB radios as they did in the past to communicate with one another; instead, they use Facebook live.
It’s just one way truckers are staying ahead of the curve while sticking to tried-and-true rules that'll seem strange to everyone else.
If truckers want to do this job, they’re going to have to get used to going longer without showers. It’s a strange rule, but one that’s unique to trucking due to the inconsistency of stops. Not every stop is going to come equipped with showers.
Even more, as an anonymous trucker pointed out to The Guardian, the toilets and showers are dirty and not always in the best condition. That alone could discourage truckers from wanting to get pampered after a long day.
There are rules about how truck drivers need to drive, and it isn’t easy to follow, especially over long trips. According to Schneider Jobs, an instructor notes that drivers must maintain a seven-second gap at all times between the truck and anyone in front.
It can be grueling maintaining this steady pace during long hours on the road, especially if there's lots of traffic around. This is in order to give truckers enough of a reaction time in case something goes awry.
When average drivers pull up to a gas station, they can usually expect multiple pumps to be open and available—unless it's at a busy hour of the day when everyone is off work. For a truck driver, the experience is different.
According to Factor Finders, truckers have a deadline to meet and don’t have time to leisurely pump gas and take a relaxing pit stop. Plus, they have to fuel up in a rush and vacate the spot for the next trucker who has the same demands.
It’s odd to imagine working a job where there isn’t a traditional boss to report to (that is, unless you’re actually boss). In actuality, truckers have superiors, they just may see them as much, which is just another reminder that trucking can seem weird to outsiders.
According to one anonymous trucker, in a report by The Guardian, they only met their boss on one brief occasion throughout their career. Although it may not be the standard for every truck driver, this must be something many can relate to.
As reported earlier, drivers can’t drive more than 11 hours a day. How do superiors track this? Through an electronic device that all truckers need to have. According to The Roth Firm, it’s a device that hooks onto a truck’s engine to provide data that tracks its time when running.
If truckers want to make a living out of this profession, they need to have this logging device—it’s not up for debate. It’s all part of adhering to, what the same source notes, are the Hours of Service Regulations.
It’s strange, but truckers have to keep up a paper trail if they want to keep their job. One would expect truckers to only have to worry about driving and hauling, nothing else when it’s not the case.
According to Insurance Journal, drivers maintain log books they have to share with police and other authorities as part of federal law. These books document their hours and are part of the checks and balances that come with the laborious job.
There are plenty of unique aspects to being a truck driver that the rest of the world will find strange. One includes the space one works in, which happens to be the front seat of a big rig. This area shares a space with where truckers eat and sleep. It’s therefore important and essential that truckers take care of this area.
Not only that, but they have to keep their truck well-maintained, as per Esurance, to ensure its in proper working order. Few other jobs require regular upkeep as much as truck driving, making this a strange rule.
We’ve already discussed elsewhere the places truckers are afraid to drive, and part of that has to do with weather conditions. That means drivers have to be up on their weather reports if they want to plan their trips accordingly—something many would find strange to even have to factor into a job.
As the site Smart-Trucking points out, even monitoring the temperature can tip drivers off to any road conditions they need to adapt to. This rule is essential for drivers to follow, no matter how weird it seems to the rest.
Remember the rule from earlier about truckers being willing to haul anything? We meant it. For some truckers, that includes hazardous materials. According to the blog Truck Driving Jobs, these materials can include gasoline, propane and even dynamite. These materials are necessary for many industries and depend on truckers brave enough to haul them across many miles.
Hauling this kind of material isn’t without its extra set of rules though. The same source notes that truckers have to keep their eyes on their truck at all times. They’re even barred from parking these trucks in certain areas.
Many rules truckers have to follow are really precautionary measures. It’s odd, sounds like a pain and takes more time, but many truckers follow this next rule. As Smart-Trucking notes, it can be a problem when trucks park to load up and find it difficult to drive off a location, forgetting to take into account ramps, poles, and other hazards.
Many assume a trucker can simply pull up, load the truck and drive off. In reality, they need to scout out the area and plan something as seemingly simple as loading a truck up with cargo before parking.
Becoming a U.S. Air Force Pilot or Astronaut are both professions that have a long list of requirements. While not as strenuous as those occupations, truckers have a lengthy list of licensing requirements too.
The Roth Firm site notes that in addition to a clean driving record and needing to pass a litany of road tests, being in good physical shape is also a criteria. If truckers aren’t fit, they could have trouble at stops helping to load and unload their hauls.
It may not be a rule every trucker has to follow, but it could be if competition only continues to increase. Many truckers form teams to maximize profits by switching off throughout days and nights on the road.
According to the blog uShip, many husbands and wives become teams as a way of capitalizing on the system. If the end goal is to rack up more miles, then forming a team certainly helps. It’s a strange concept to imagine in a workplace, but not so strange in the trucking industry.
Most jobs have a few weeks of training to get a worker up to speed. Once they’ve completed the training, they’re usually let loose off the training wheels and free to work independently. A trucker works independently too, only their job requires learning on the go.
It’s strange to be always learning while working, but it’s what’s required for truckers. One trucker reports as per the Insurance Journal that they had to learn how to drive a big rig on the highway while already working the job.
Let’s face it, many jobs allow one to tune out. They allow for instances throughout the day, even while on the job, to daydream and let one’s mind wander. Truckers don’t have that kind of luxury. Sure, they get to listen to music, and it becomes second-nature driving a big rig, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t always on their guard.
As Smart-Trucking notes, a trucker has to follow the rule of being alert of cars around the truck. This is a job, as odd as it sounds, where workers have to stay frosty at all times.
Being in the same trade as someone else puts both squarely on a level of understanding. They don’t have to explain what it is they do or the challenges they face in their day-to-day, thanks to working the same job.
In recognizing fellow truckers, as Factor Finders reports, it preserves the professionalism that exists between drivers in this trade. It also makes for a more pleasant experience doing the job. A truck driver may feel alone while on the job but saying a friendly “hello” to others will foster camaraderie.
Most people go to another location for a set shift and come home. Except for packing or buying a lunch, there isn’t much they have to do while on the job to get by. With truckers working on the go for the majority of their days, they can’t forget to take care of themselves.
Esurance reports that this comes in the form of deliberately taking relaxation time and getting enough rest. These two things aren’t really rules one would have to worry about at a normal job though, which strikes many as odd.
Sources: Factor Finders, Cracked, The Roth Firm, The Guardian, Insurance Journal, uShip, Dollar Shave Club, Jobs.net, Schneider Jobs, Esurance, Smart-Trucking, Truck Driving Jobs