As irritating as it may be to drive behind a truck on a road unfit for overtaking, it is even worse to have one tailgating your car. Their immense size and capped speeds make most semi or trailer trucks a nuisance to drive along with on just about any road. That being said, however, as a society, we’d be lost without them. Ultimately, trucks are essential for any healthy economy, transporting anything from chips to bricks to motherboards.
Ask any trucker, and they’ll say it’s not a job but a lifestyle. And it's not an easy one. They are on the road all the time and don’t get to see their families all that much. The roads hold plenty of dangers for them—especially if they are narrow or bad, or if the drivers around them are aggressive. Even so, most of us tend to dislike truckers for a multitude of reasons.
And while our reasons may hold true for us, the truckers do have their own reasons for being or doing the things they do. They don’t want to look bad, smell bad, or park blocking driveways, or even block the road—but they have both logistical and logical reasons for doing so. We may not understand these reasons or even know about them though. For most of us, it’s all about the ease of driving that truckers tend to disrupt. And so, fairly or unfairly, these are the 20 things truckers do that annoy everyone else…
We all have been there. A truck is plodding along in the right lane when suddenly it will swerve into the left lane to pass another vehicle, forcing us to hit the brakes and make our hearts skip several beats. After a minute of heaving breathing, we move on—and can’t do much about it. Now, the trucker who does this didn’t do a great thing but there’s a bit of logic involved here. The trucker can see a slower vehicle up front and he wants to avoid slowing down because building up speed for a heavy vehicle takes time and a lot of fuel, so he simply overtakes the vehicle instead.
Trucks also tend to be a little unnerving to be around during merging traffic. If a line of cars is merging, most truckers prefer to get out of the way and take any lane. According to Jalopnik, as soon as the merge point has passed, the trucker wants to get back to his own lane and will do so at the earliest available opportunity. Sometimes, though, since he can see the traffic up ahead from his higher vantage point, he will make the move at the merge point itself. So, though it may be annoying, if you see a truck barrelling through a merge point, just back off and give it space.
Most truckers simply honk the horn, flash the lights, and begin to steer in the lane they want or need to be in. Car drivers often have no choice but to apply the brakes or steer into the next lane and mutter under their breaths. Again, while it's not exactly right for the truckers to do this—making people move or stop using the physicality of their trucks—they often have little choice. Most truckers do not want to drive in car lanes and prefer to be in their own lane to avoid any blind spot mishaps. Also, they know how much less maneuverable a truck is as compared to lighter vehicles; so if they need to make a move, they make a move.
Truck drivers keep two eyes on the road: one right in front of their truck to make sure they don’t bump into anything and one very far down the road. If they see a blockage up ahead in their lane, they will have to change lanes and enter the left lane even if it means causing a few screechy brakes behind or beside them. Once they have passed the hazard, they will move over; in fact, truckers are taught to drive in the center lane especially during merging since this gives them the option to move into any lane that little bit easier.
Ever encountered a huge truck on a narrow mountainous road? It is frustrating—in capital letters. Truckers take it really slow on curves and on a road that does not allow a car to overtake them, this can cause quite the logjam. Now the thing is, trucks have a really high center of mass, especially if they are loaded to the max. They have to be slow enough not only to stay upright themselves but also to avoid their cargo from tipping over and getting damaged. Usually, truckers do 10 mph lower than the prescribed speed limit on curvy roads to be on the safe and undamaged side, according to Travel Channel.
Most people would think that truckers run a light because they don’t want to wait or because they think the law does not apply to them. It is true that truckers do run lights but not for the reasons we’d assume. Most trucks have 10 brakes, which means each brake has to stop 8,000 pounds. So they have to apply the brakes well in advance lest the truck not stop. And if the brakes are applied too hard then the brakes can lock the tires and cause plenty of damage to the cargo. Also, sometimes, there may not be enough tire-to-road contact for successful braking for a truck, so when in doubt, they tend to jump lights.
It is annoying, indeed, to have a line of trucks parked on the ramps on an interstate at night, narrowing the roads and making for less-than-safe driving for the rest of motorists. The thing is, trucks drivers can only drive so many hours in a day because of strict regulations. Plus, there isn’t enough truck parking or shelter for all the trucks in the country and they get filled pretty quick. So the truckers who cannot find a waypoint for the night are often forced to park on highway ramps on an incline or decline, which is also pretty uncomfortable for them. And they can also be fined for it. It’s just that they have nowhere else to go.
Once upon a time, truckers were known to be the Knights of the Highway. These were the people who almost certainly stopped and offered help if there was a need. This was also the time there was no GPS or tracers in the truck. Nowadays, everything is about profit and there are strict rules about unnecessary stoppages and delays in any trucking company. Offering help and being a savior isn’t all that money-making so truckers are not allowed to offer lifts, support, or succor any more. Also, there is always the chance of the savior ending up being the victim in elaborately laid honey traps so companies prefer to keep their trucks, cargo, and their truckers safer than sorrier.
If you know a trucker, you’d know how many times they may have joined another gig and tried to give trucking up for good. Of course, the call of the road is sometimes too strong and many truckers keep yo-yo-ing between being a trucker and not being one. Also, this is one job that faces a major shortage since not many can handle the odd and tough life of a trucker—at least, not for too long. Some companies are so bad, they turn good truckers off trucking for good. So, it may be annoying to see a trucker permanently in the doldrums but that’s the kind of tough job they have.
Ever get irritated at the sight of huge trucks, rigs, and haulers near tourist attractions on interstates and highways? Well, they are allowed this little perk but it all depends on the layout of the local roads. If the road is wide enough to let a 50-foot hauler park in safety and comfort, truckers can and do make pit stops to soak in the sights and the sounds. If the roads are too narrow, truckers park as close as they are allowed to in an urban area and tend to Uber it from there, if the distance is too much to walk it, that is.
If you ever passed a truck with its cab doors or windows open, chances are you ended up catching a whiff of that greasy truck cab smell. And you will wrinkle your nose for sure. Why? Trucks cabs are like tiny cramped apartments that a trucker has to live in for days on end. They have a sleeping quarter because it's not as if trucking companies shell out for an overnight motel stay for their drivers. It can also accommodate small kitchen appliances and cooking gear to let the truckers have a few healthy meals on the road while they can, thus avoiding all that greasy rest stop food that’s bad for their health and longevity.
Sometimes, a trucker will step away from a major carrier and open his own one-man hauling business. So, here’s a trucker who is also an entrepreneur of sorts and works for no man but himself. How does this independent trucker declare his or her freedom? They customize their trucks in outlandish fashions, often with oversize hood ornaments that can give passing by motorists the creeps. Skulls, angry ducks, and pirates are all the rage for truckers—even if they give the car in front of them a massive scare. They don’t mean to, though, it’s a just a way of celebrating their small little business.
Unlike in the movies—where either the trucker is a psychotic maniac or the innocent hitchhiker turns into a trucker-gobbling alien— trucks don’t give lifts to hitchhikers all that often. They are not allowed to and most trucks have a monitoring system that lets the company see what their truckers have been up to. In fact, most trucks have a camera on the dash to make sure the truckers are not doing what they are not supposed to. So if you plan to hitchhike your way to the other side of the galaxy, or at least the country, truckers will not be offering you help or hitches.
Dash-mounted CB radios are all the rage with truckers and they help with communication, too. Truckers let each other know which roads are clear and which aren’t so it helps them make their run that bit smoother. Of course, for the people who listen to CB Radios, this becomes tough. There is a lot of trash talk that goes on and it basically becomes a stream of trucker lingo that is not good to hear. And then there is that trucker slang. A black eye means a broken headlight, paying the water bill means taking a restroom break, and a double nickel is a cruise run at 55 mph, according to Trucking Truth.
Ever been blinded by a truck's flashing headlights? It is pretty irritating and migraine-inducing to have a truck flash its strong headlamps and then have an oncoming truck to converse with its headlamps in return. It may be distracting for the motorists on the road but for the truckers, it’s a means of communication. It’s the same as us car drivers dipping or flashing our headlights to let the other car know if the way is clear or not. Of course, truckers not only give each other way but also blink their headlight to convey their thanks. Their idea is not to blind motorists but to have a conversation.
Many trucks have 800 numbers stuck on as bumper stickers, encouraging you to call if they are not driving safe or tend to behave like a toddler on skates. Of course, most of these numbers are valid and you can call them to give them a piece of your mind about the trucker who nearly nudged you off the highway. That doesn’t mean the person on the other end will not give you a piece of his or her mind in turn and educate you in colorful language about the kind of challenges truckers have to face while driving around car drivers such as yourself!
Many of us less-educated folks tend to think of truckers as dirty, unkempt, stinky people who don’t shower, rarely change, and have crumbs stuck to their beards. Unfortunately, that is true at times—but that could be said of many other professions, as well. Some people, truckers or not, are not very hygienic. And yes, long hours of sitting and grabbing the nearest diner food can make anyone a little on the heavier side. That doesn’t mean truckers are uneducated louts; in fact, you may not recognize the clean-shaven man sitting next to you as a trucker at all. But that’s the think about stereotypes, they make us narrow-minded and shallow-hearted. Truckers are people, like you and I, so how about we treat them with humanity?
Sources: Trucking Truth, Jalopnik, and TravelChannel.