A Work Day in the Life of a Trucker

Newbies - Tips From the Trainer by Fozzy

Is it possible to land a regional job after graduation? I need to be home weekends.

I’m afraid that you are in for a huge let down, my friend. There is a huge problem in the industry; this same problem has existed for a long time and is not going away any time soon. There are some words and terms like “work”,” day,” and “weekend” which only apply to people who work outside of the transportation industry. There are no such things as “days” to a driver. For most workers, “work” is usually defined as clocking in at your place of business and completing a specific assigned task. The average work day begins at a set time, has a couple of paid breaks, a longer break that is usually uncompensated for and, of course, a day that ends at a certain time. The weekend usually consists of getting off from work or ending your day on a Friday and not coming back to work until that following Monday. That’s over 60-hours from Friday at 5pm until Monday at 8am. That rarely, if ever, will be seen in the trucking or transportation industries.

OTR drivers do not normally have set starting hours, unless it is when they are calling in to dispatch after returning from “time off.” The driver’s day is made up of chunks of time that fit into something called the “Hours of Service.” The Federal government has set the amount of hours that drivers are allowed access to the steering wheel. In the trucking world, most of what you are paid for is miles driven or hours spent driving, and most companies have whittled the remaining time into uncompensated work so you get paid to drive. You do not get paid when you are not driving, in most instances; therefore, unless you are driving, you are not making a dime. The drivers try to minimize time off and maximize driving time, and so do the companies! Companies are not compensated, either, for trucks sitting idle; therefore, they want the equipment to be moving other people’s freight.

A driver’s day consists of 14-hours during which you are to do everything that is required of you. Driving cannot take up more than 11 of these hours and, after 14-hours, you cannot drive anymore until you get some rest. 10-hours after you get off of work, you can legally drive an additional 11-hours, so 14-hours and a 10-hour break is what you are working with. Makes the normal worker’s 8-hour day sound pretty good, don’t you think?

There is a limit on how many total hours you can do this, and 70-hours is that magic figure. After you have worked and driven a total of 70-hours, you cannot drive again until you take a full 34-hours off duty. You can see how many hours we are talking about here. Remember what I said about the pay and the companies wanting you to drive all the available hours? Guess what most truckers’ end up doing on their weekend?

The time spent doing everything at home is considered time off. Sleeping, eating, getting ready to go back into the seat and leaving again. Most truckers’ weekends consist of a 34-hour break at home. Sometimes you’ll get more, but your time is just not yours anymore. Most of the trucking companies out there will allow you to be home for one 24-hour period of time for every 7 calendar days you are away from home, so 21-days away from home gets you 36-hours home. Most regional carriers will now give 24 – 34 hours at home before you are required to be ready to report for work again.