Whether over-the-road trucking (OTR trucking) or long-haul trucking is a way of life, or a job is up to each truck driver. For many, the trucker lifestyle is a calling, and the road “calls your name.” Truck driving is finally receiving national recognition as an essential service, and truck drivers are known as “Knights of the Road.” With trucking driving job growth and job security as reliable as ever, truckers who “wanna run” are “making bones.” Whether driving flatbed, port & rail, refrigerated or dry van, the trucker lifestyle is unique. Want to know what to expect when you become part of the American truck driving fraternity? Here’s The Trucker Lifestyle: Today’s Truck Driving Experience.
All About Autonomy
For those who like to be left alone to get the job done, truck driving offers it up in large doses. Autonomy means the responsibility to do the work without supervision. Independence does not mean doing the work when you want. Successful truckers are self-sufficient and self-motivated, and complete jobs when no one is looking. The trucker lifestyle requires drivers to plan trips, do comprehensive safety inspections, log information, communicate with managers, eat healthily, obey traffic laws, and even do laundry on the road without direction or reminders. Most truckers enjoy the freedom to create truck driving habits and routines that suit them and them alone.
For tips on how to manage life on the road, read our blog post Truck Driver Time Management.
Your Cab is Your Castle
Many truck drivers enjoy creating a unique and signature workspace. Unlike office workers with one small family picture on the desk, truckers get to personalize the work area. Designing a cab combining critical functional elements and style helps truckers relieve stress and express some personality. By placing everything from a phone mount, a CB radio, cup holders, or access to food, truck drivers can work more effectively and more efficiently. A customized cab also allows truckers to keep their eyes on the road more because there is less time spent hunting for items.
For tips on how to customize a truck cab, read our blog post Making Your Semi-Truck a Home Away From Home
Safety, Safety, Safety
The number one responsibility of truck drivers is safety. Safety for the driver, other truck drivers, and motorists are paramount. The trucker lifestyle demands safety first, and experienced truck drivers are continually evaluating situations against safety best practices. Successful truckers drive defensively, always use turn signals, slow down in work zones, and obey traffic laws. Smart truck drivers know a safe trip is a successful trip. Arriving three minutes early to the scheduled delivery time is not worth putting a driver or others in danger.
For tips on pre-trip or in-trip inspections, read our blog category on safety.
Once a Truck Driver, Always a Truck Driver
Probably the most exciting aspects of the truck lifestyle are the relationships and bonds which are formed on the road. Being a trucker is genuinely unique, and only those in the trucking fraternity can appreciate the experience. Lifelong friendships form between drivers, dispatchers, local teams, truck stop staff, and customers. Many retired truck drivers mention what they miss the most about the open road is people and the friendships cultivated over the years of sharing the trucker lifestyle.
Successful truck drivers understand the importance of fostering relationships with people from all walks of life drawn to life on the road. Spending time sharing experiences, home life, and hobbies bonds truckers and those in the trucking industry.
Is It Quiet in Here or Is It Just Me?
The solo trucker lifestyle draws many people who enjoy privacy and quiet time. Many truck drivers find the road therapeutic because it provides time to sort things out, clear the mind, and get perspective. Others find peace suits them better than other jobs involving coworkers. Either way, life on the road requires individuals who are OK being by themselves.
For those interested in working with others, team driver opportunities allow truckers to share the load with
Would You Like Fries with That?
Unlike most jobs, truck driving tests self-control every day. Long hours, late-night truck stops, and fast food keeps truckers in a constant battle to stay healthy. Because, the trucker lifestyle lends itself to quick and easy food choices and away from exercise routines, successful truck drivers maintain a proper diet and physical activity. They do it for themselves and their families. A healthy driver is a productive driver, and that is good for everyone.
For tips on healthy eating on the road, read our blog post How to Live a Healthy Lifestyle Over the Road.
For tips on exercise on the road, read our blog post How Truck Drivers Stay Fit On The Road.
One aspect of the trucker lifestyle not well known outside the industry is driver perks. Most new truck drivers are surprised to discover how many trucker loyalty programs exist. National truck stop chains like AMBEST, Love’s, Pilot, and Petro and TA (TravelCenters of America) offer reward programs designed exclusively for truck drivers. Like loyalty programs in other industries, (typically) points accumulate, allowing truckers to use them for items in travel stores, full-serve restaurants, truck services shops, parking, and showers. Experienced truck drivers take advantage of truck loyalty programs and redeem points as it fits into a healthy lifestyle on the road.
Most carriers today have pet policies to enjoy life on the open roads with a best friend. Taking care of pets can have therapeutic value for truck drivers. Long-distance runs with a pet aboard can relieve stress and increase physical activity during rest stops. Pets provide companionship on the road and allow truckers to stay connected to life off the road. Many truckers find pets to be an easy conversation starter during downtime and when interacting with the public.
For tips on truckers with pets, read our blog post Top 10 Benefits of Truck Driving with Pets.
It’s a Family Affair
Most experienced truck drivers will tell you the trucker lifestyle affects more than those in the cab. Days or weeks away from home often changes family dynamics. Balancing life on the road and being at home can be challenging, though not impossible. Like most relationships, communication is critical. Communicating travel plans, home time, and other duties split between partners goes a long way to maintaining stability and a sense of unity. Smartphone technology has made keeping in touch with loved ones easier than ever. Live video or Facetime chats allow truck drivers to be part of special times, even without physically being at an event. Many truckers recruit husbands and wives to join them on the road and become what is known as team truck driving.
For tips on a successful truck driver-partner, read our blog Wives of Truckers.
Gone are the days when the CB radio and experience were the only ways to gather information. Today’s truck drivers have more technology available than at any other time in the trucking industry. From apps for truck stops, rest areas, weigh stations, and truck-friendly exits, to audiobooks and podcasts, fitness trackers, and cost-per-mile calculators – there’s an app for that. Truckers at every experience level discover three to four must-have apps for making life on the road practical, efficient, educational, and fun.
For tips on apps for truckers visit The Top 14 Apps for Truckers.
Truck driving has always been the backbone of the U.S. economy. Recent events spotlight how much necessary truckers are for keeping store shelves stocked and vital supplies like medicine available. The trucker lifestyle remains rewarding and lucrative. There are relationships to be made and money to made on the open road for those who join the trucking driving fraternity.
Interested in becoming a truck driver for Knight Transportation? View all available truck driving jobs.
You may also enjoy this article: How to Go From Rookie Truck Driver to Experienced Trucker.