Writing has always been a big part of my life. I have learned over the years that good writing requires good research. If I do not know what I am talking about, then I cannot (or rather, should not) write. Starting in the trucking industry was no different.
My first days were filled with reading HOS rules, FMCSA’s regulations, and ATA and other group opinions. I then began to delve into the numerous companies to see what they offered to flatbed, van, and reefer drivers, as well as what team driving was all about. Once I had plowed through that, I helped compile a list of trucking jobs and information for all fifty states. I was learning a lot.
As my time as a trucking writer comes to a close, I wanted to reflect on some of the things I have learned as an outsider.
#1 Trucking isn’t just a job.
First, it is extremely apparent that a truck driver’s job is a lifestyle. There are few jobs that carry the same weight as the phrase, “I’m a truck driver.” Most people go to work and then go home. Truckers are at home on the road. No one else can truly know what they go through except for other truckers.
Truckers are asked to be so much more than a driver. There are “Highway Angels” protecting the wayward on the roads, big rigs carrying heavy loads or dangerous chemicals, and others that must spend weeks away from loved ones to deliver supplies. Truckers carry a heavy load on both their truck and on their entire being. There are those that thrive on this lifestyle. Much like the military, it is not for everyone.
#2 There is such a thing as too regulated…
My second lesson learned was that every little detail is regulated to death. I will soon be a secondary school educator, and I know that I first wanted to do this because I love to teach. I assume most truckers began driving, because they love to drive. Does anyone actually like filling out logbooks? It is part of the job. That’s why it saddens me to see so many non-truckers passing legislation to decide what these hardworking people can or cannot do.
#3 …But there is such a thing as too much whine.
Another thing that I have noticed is that the truckers who complain all of the time still love what they do. Good ol’ fashioned complaining may be a way of life for some truckers, but they are still out there riding the road. All I can say to that is that no job is perfect and that living with aggravation tends to make us worse at what we do. If you truly love the road, then stay true to what first brought you there. A little complaining may just be part of it for you, but don’t let it ruin your life or your day.
#4 Change is inevitable.
There’s a lot changing in the trucking industry. CBs are fading away. The old-timers are retiring. The regulations are choking the freedom that truckers once enjoyed.
The future can be intimidating sometimes, but the trucking life is not over. New technology makes driving safer and allows for safer and more reliable contact with cellphones and internet. Entertainment is easier to come by. Truckers are cracking down on sex trafficking. Awareness is growing for the industry.
Things are changing a lot, but that’s life. I have seen that although the technology, rules, and even the trucks have changed, the truck driver spirit is still alive. Those that are called to be truckers will find satisfaction and excitement in their job. It’s in their blood and it always will be. That’s what I have learned.
So, to you real truckers out there: Keep on trucking!