A Day in A Trucker’s Life
I will walk you through my day of truckers life as an OTR delivery driver with pictures, video and audio (with notations for regular OTR drivers) when applicable.
It will help you get an idea of what life on the road might be like for you as a truck driver. (If I don’t scare you away first, lol)
Also, you will find tips, advice and links to more details that will help you get a better understanding for making trucking life a success should you choose this career path.
A Truckers Life…days don’t always go as expected!
A truckers life is never bored.
Then again, I think only boring people get bored but that is another story.
I usually start my day between 5 and 7 in the morning. Especially if I already have my loaded trailer. If I have to go and pick up my load, and I am at my yard, I may sleep until later because our office personnel doesn’t get in until 8 a.m.
(Many trucking companies have 24 hr dispatch, mine doesn’t)
While I am waiting, I do my stretching and meditating, push ups, sit ups, leg lifts and a few sets of curls and presses with the dumbbells. A few squats too on good days!
(All truckers should have regular exercise routine to maintain better health for a happier life. Sadly, many of us drivers don’t, then we say trucking made up get out of shape. Only takes a few days a weeks and smart choices for a truckers diet on the road.)
Live longer, stronger, healthier, be happy, exercise please!
For Breakfast . . .
I pop open a can of peaches or pears in lite syrup. I might eat cereal too all depends on how hungry I am. Then, I will drink a bottle of water with my multi-vitamins.
(Does not matter if I want the water or not, I just drink it. You should too! )
I changed my diet a little since building this page. For example, no more peaches in light syrup (too much sugar) only peaches it’s own juice and mostly pineapple instead of peaches. Also peanut butter with cinnamon & coconut oil and no more cereal.
Trucking life will put weight on you real quick and easy so developing good eating habits from the beginning will put you on the right track for a successful trucking career.
After breakfast . . . Time for the pre-trip inspection on the truck and trailer.
There is a checklist on the back of logs that must be signed and dated. The pre-trip is a mandatory safety precaution that must be done by every driver.
At 8am, I call to dispatch to get my delivery/pick up information. (Sometimes you need authorization numbers, but usually just the phone number and address for the shipper/receiver is all I need.)
Then, I pull out the Motor Carriers map and route my destination to the pickup location. Afterward, I call the shipper and get local directions to the company.
(Sometimes the shipper knows where they are and sometimes they don’t. If the directions sound fishy ask again, trust me.)
Next, update the logbook and hit the highway.
These days I use eLogs or Electronic logs. There are pros and cons about electronic logs. Starting December 2017 all trucking companies will be using electronic logs.
This video does not go with the text. I recorded it after. But you will pick up a lot of what the text describes in the the video. This video is older but a classic. At the company, I am at now, eLogs.
On the video I already have my load that I picked up from the yard. If I didn’t have that load the following story line would apply……..
(That means back up to the dock.)(If I were leaving the yard this would not be the case, I would be headed off to deliver first stop)
While I am waiting to be loaded, I update my logbook again and then grab my map, this time to plan my routing to the destination.
Most trips are from 500 to 2500 miles. The longer the trip, the more important planning ahead becomes.
Truckers can only legally drive 11 hrs in a 14 hour period during a 24 hr day.
Planning lets you know where you will be and at what time so you don’t run out of hours in an inconvenient location. Out west there is a lot of highway between bathrooms or food. It could make an unprepared truckers life very interesting!
I take the hours and divide them by 65 mph to see how many miles I can travel in the hours needed to get where I want to stop. Or I will find a place that I want to stop and see how many hours/miles away that it.
I can use the internet or truck stop guide and to find the closest truck stop or rest area to that location.
Hurry up and wait . . .
After the truck is loaded, I go in and use the bathroom before I sign the BOL(Bills of Laden), pull the truck up out of the dock, shut the doors and update my logbook to reflect my departure. I usually sign SLC when I don’t have to count the load. (Which means shipper loads and counts)
By now its 10am, so I grab a banana and another bottle of water and began trucking!
On the road to destination…
My favorite runs take me out west. For truckers, different strokes for different folks truly applies. There are many reasons that drivers prefer certain lanes over others.
I personally like going west for several reasons
- To enjoy the transition in scenery as I cross different
- There is less traffic going west as opposed to traveling I95
- The speed limit is a little higher (70 – 80)
- There is usually more maneuvering room in city limits
- And I have a thing for a Mexican food. (For my off diet days!)
Anyway back to the ride . . .
I usually drive until I have to stop to use the bathroom, which is 3-5 hours.
Most people think trucking is only about holding on to that steering wheel and annoying 4wheelers but there is a lot more to trucking and avoiding the 4wheelers is part of it not annoying the 4wheelers.
Professional drivers constantly scan the highway for potential problems. From the opposite side of the interstate on the left to the get on ramp on the right.
(Some people just don’t understand how to merge onto the highway.)
We learn how to read the highway. Usually there are tattle tell signs when things are about to go down on the highway and if your paying attention and looking far enough ahead you’ll catch it before finding yourself in the middle of a crisis.
I hardly ever have my CB on when I am going down the highway. I am usually listening to either talk radio, NPR, or something motivational about life to help keep a positive mindset and to learn new things. I just pay attention to the other drivers. There are times though when its good to have the CB on. For instance, in bad weather, rush hour, construction zones, unfamiliar back roads etc.The CB can be used as a tool or abused to aggravate others.
A simple example of reading traffic would be for instance, seeing up ahead the car that you were pacing for miles. . .
(you are neither gaining on him or falling back because you both are going the same speed)
you see him slowing down and there is no ramps just highway and you see nothing else going on then there is probably something in the road like an alligator.
Oh yeah, we see alligators in the road all the time.
That’s not really too good of an example but you see what I mean. Its just that when you drive 3,000 plus miles a week you have to stay focused on being aware of your surroundings.
By now its 1pm and time wet a tire.
(use the bathroom)
I pull into a rest area because its quicker and I have my food in the truck.
A can of tuna in water, and a bottle of water.
I am rushing to stay on schedule so that I will make it through the city before rush hour. Staying aware of such things are also the benefit of planning the trip out. It makes a truckers life simpler.
You never know what you will see out here on the highway or off. It’s all in how much you pay attention. I am thrilled to spot a hawk eating lunch the same time I am . . .
Ok. When my breaks over, I’ll update my logbook and get back to trucking. . .
We go through weigh stations where they make sure that the weight on each axle does not exceed the states or the federal limits.
(Usually 12,000 lbs on the steering axle and 34,000 lbs on the drive and trailer axles. Usually 80,000 lbs is the gross allowed for the truck and trailer together without a permit.) If the weight is not over gross but over on the axle then either the axle or fifth wheel must be slid or the load must be shifted so the the weight on the axles does not exceed the legal limit. (Don’t worry, they will teach you that in school)
Officers at weigh stations also sometimes inspect truckers paperwork and equipment for safety violations at any time that’s why its best to keep everything in order. Fines and penalties vary greatly from state to state.
They range from being too long in length from kingpin to trailer axle
to not having enough tire tread, or having an air or oil leak. Some violations will get truckers a ticket, a fine, and shut down until a service truck comes out and fix the problem.
Log book violations can be costly and varies from state to state. (from $50 – $1000 is not unheard of) In addition to fines a truck driver can be shut down for hours or for days.
If your going to be a professional trucker its just best to do everything within your power to have your papers and equipment in order. Trucking life is no fun when your placed out of service by the D.O.T.
(This is sometimes a challenge when many shippers and receivers have no concern about the drivers schedule. Just another ongoing issue that we deal with.It a built in part of trucking life.)
Out west they have inspection stations in addition to weigh stations. Sometimes they have
drug dogs or x-ray equipment at inspection stations. Most of this goes on in
California, New Mexico, and southern Texas.
All of these states border Mexico.
They look for drugs, illegal aliens, smugglers, bombs and any other illegal contraband.
Trucks have plenty of room for fake compartments, hollow walls and false cargo.
(As you see however, inspection is not limited to truckers)
NOTE: Life as truckers is always evolving. Truckers are now being trained to recognize unusual activity while they are out on the road, especially as it might relate to terrorism.
I try not to ride in a traffic cluster. If something happens like a steering tire blows or a deer runs out I’d like to have the freedom of being able to react in the best way possible without having to worry about running over someone else.
Sometimes its hard to keep that cushion of space because many other drivers especially 4wheelers don’t think the same way.
(Not YOU of course!)
Not only is it ridiculous to casually ride beside a big truck
(or any vehicle for that matter) it is also dangerous.
Arrival At Receiver
After finding the receiving entrance and then locating the office, I park out of the way to go in and see what door they want me to back into.
(Sometimes there are no dock doors, just depends on where you are delivering and what your company hauls)
I have to unload my freight 99% of the time. A lot of truckers prefer to work at companies that haul mostly no-touch freight.
I prefer to have the chance to unload or load my freight a lot to get the exercise.
(They call me the crazy trucker)
The way I look at it, I am getting paid to exercise just like I am getting paid to see the good old USA.
What a life!
I haul furniture so there are many stops on most deliveries out from the terminal. Some trips take 2 or more days to make all the deliveries.
So far 29 stops in 3 days has been my toughest trip. You do what you can until the places your delivering to closes for the day. (Or your logbook says your out of hours) When the day is over I am dirty and sweaty. Trucking life for me is a little different than other over the road truckers.
Truckers Home Away From Home
It’s time to find either a truck stop or a hotel with truck parking. If I am lucky there will be one near.
Every now and then you end up somewhere that it just doesn’t work out that way.
Those times are when you really appreciate the sleeper cab. the sleeper cab.
behind your driver’s seat that you so frequently take for granted.
(Sometimes, it’s the best thing in a truckers life)
On this trip we are lucky enough find a truck stop. Truck stops vary greatly, there are full service national franchises and there are mom and pops.
(and something in between the two)
Most of them have showers. Many have a restaurants, video games, pool tables,laundry room, theater room
(some have a theater room for movies and a tv room for cable television)
Some even have licensed massage therapists and barbers. I’ve seen one with a doctor’s office.
I usually go straight to the fuel isle to fill up with diesel.
Always being one to take in the beauty and nature around me. I notice the birds tripping over the bread someone has thrown out. What a way to end the day. I love observing the behavior of animals.
“I can’t tell if this bird is lazy or greedy, he keeps tripping every time the other bird picks up a piece of food until its given to him but he won’t bend over and grab a piece for himself”
(Does that sound like any people you know?)
Oh yeah, we are talking about trucking. . . well, that’s just it. . . for me. . . everything that goes on out here is part of the experience. That’s why I never get bored and I look forward to the next day on the road.
Especially, coming across moments that have nothing to do with trucking. I enjoy parts of life that others pay little attention to. This is provides constant rejuvenation. It’s like inserting a break into your every day routine (try it for yourself today)
After pumping my fuel, I pull up so the next truck can get to the pump while I go in to pay. Most companies use a fuel card to pay for fuel.
Companies that care about their drivers have a system in place so that carrying a lot of cash is not necessary for company expenses.
This is good because sometimes drivers are sometimes robbed when they park over nite in unattended areas.
(When possible always park at a truck stop or lighted and guarded location)
I try to go to a parking space in the back and at the end of a row beside a curb if one is available. At one time lot lizards was a big problem at some truck stops.
Parking in the back was sure to get you harassed all nite. Its really not a big problem now. Only some places you go, you know not to park in the back.
(Like Carlisle, Pa or West Memphis, Ar)
Getting a little extra walking in is a perfect way to end the day. I park to the curb because that means on that side of the truck,I won’t have to worry about being hit.
(Accidents happen every now and then!)
By now its probably 6pm and time for some nourishment. I eat another can of tuna and drink another bottle of water. Before going getting my clothes together for the shower.
Showers in the truck stop are free to truckers if you get at least 50 gallons of fuel. I qualify for that pretty easily.
You give them your rewards card and they give you a towel, wash cloth, soap and a key to a cleaned shower. Sometimes you may have to sign a list to wait for a shower to be cleaned. Patience is a must for trucking life.
(Better to have your own soap, theirs don’t lather)
In which case I just wait at the televisions on display and catch up on the weather for next day.
(Its always turned to the weather channel)
Most showers have a private toilet, shower, sink, mirror, some have fans. Some of the smaller truck stops may only have the shower and maybe a mirror.
However, most smaller truck stops are located in places where you wouldn’t even expect there to be a truck stop so only a fool would not love and appreciate them just the same. Truck stops big and small are what make trucking life bearable, they play an important role in life on the road.
(And yes you will hear a couple of truckers on the CB radio complaining)
I find myself in the shower sometimes singing to the music on the intercom or laughing out loud at the thoughts that cross my mind or the words that come out of my mouth out of the blue for no reason.
(Can’t really explain it, you would have to be there)
At that point its a wrap because then I start laughing at what the person in the shower on either side of me must be thinking.
Well, I forgot to say that sometimes if I am really feeling good I get hype and speak to the mirror as I counsel myself …..
(No I am not crazy, I am just a happy guy)Your saying,” is he trying to convince us or himself that he’s not crazy”
As I walk out of the shower, the lady who cleans the showers is cutting her eye as I take the key and towels back to the counter. I go grab me a 2% bottle of milk and walk back to the truck where the sleeper is calling me.
(Imagine that, voices in my head)
Truckers Relax In Many Ways . .
As I turned the corner to get in my truck, off in the distance I see Peter Cottontail. How ill is that, since you are looking at the pic you know the first thing I did was to get my digital camcorder.
As I started to the one in the distance I noticed another to the right. I got a little closer and just watched.
Then I just started making the weirdest sounds just to see how they would react.
They just looked at me like I was a crazy trucker and kept eating.
Absolutely delighted, I climb in the truck and back into the sleeper still smiling like I just won the lottery. My sleeper is pretty simple, a bed and cabinet space, and a slide out table top for the computer
(which I hardly use)
There’s room for a television but I have no desire to watch television here in the truck usually I will write, read or work on the website.
If I am at the truck stop early. I’ll do my laundry and mingle with the drivers for a while. It’s fascinating to talk to a lot of the guys out here.
You will never believe what some of the guys who are truckers did before they became drivers. They come from all walks of life.
(Like a World Series Baseball Player. Yes, really!)
Sometimes I will turn on the CB. (talk about entertainment!) Some of those guys will stay on the radio all night long. No, I mean all nite long like 2 or 3 in the morning. (It may be addictive)
I been listening more frequently lately just to record some stuff so yall could hear how it goes down.
You’ll hear everything from racial hatred to preaching the Gospel to corney jokes to bragging competitions about wives. It’s all a part of trucking life. The biggest radio gets heard, the little ones get walked on. (Talked over top of.)
I have a portable dvd player but I hardly use it to watch movies. I mostly use it to view footage I’ve shot so that I can label the disc. I’ve have about 300 disc full of footage.
I knew I would use it to create a Dvd about becoming a trucker and website about life as a trucker. I knew it was necessary for several reasons.
1. Listening to the drivers complain, it seemed some didn’t consider the impact of trucking on the family. So I wanted to better inform those who might be considering driving. Happier drivers means safer, more productive drivers.
2. Truckers and the interested public needed a constructive forum to communicate. Because by observing how people drive cars around big trucks, there is obviously many misunderstandings about safety and courtesy. If you have any questions about why we do what we do or if you have questions about trucking because you are thinking about becoming a trucker just ask a trucker!
3. Drivers needed a way to share valuable information and recommend companies to each other. With expenses and overhead rising, we need every possible tool to be cost effective and save time and money.
So now, this is how I relax by building a website that I know will help my fellow drivers, future truckers, and all who are interested in Life As a Trucker.
Thanks to all of you for taking the time to visit and learn about trucking life!
If you know anyone who is considering becoming a truck driver you should really tell them about Life-as-a-trucker.com or better yet get them a copy of the new and improved dvd, becoming a trucker.
Life as a Trucker.
It would make a great invaluable one of a kind gift!
Get the Life As A Trucker DVD by clicking on me