Truck drivers, colloquially known as truckers, earn a living by transporting goods and raw materials with semi-trucks, box trucks, dump trucks, tankers, or tractor-trailers to numerous facilities. Truckers provide an essential service for industrial companies by moving goods and raw materials to and from retail centers, distribution centers, and manufacturing plants. Truckers have a wide range of responsibilities that must adhere to strict rules administered by the United States Department of Transportation. For instance, truckers must possess a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in order to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). Prospective truck drivers must pass a practical and written exam covering the scope of handling large commercial vehicles. In addition, they must understand the mechanical systems required to operate a commercial motor vehicle, including its air brakes, suspension, and cargo. Prospective truck drivers must be 18 years of age, and must pass the medical examination to qualify for a CDL.
Prospective truck drivers who wish to pursue their CDL can apply for one of three classifications, including Class A, Class B, and Class C. Each classification determines what the driver can legally drive, especially in regards to the commercial motor vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). The gross vehicle weight rating encompasses the maximum operating weight or mass of a vehicle, which includes the vehicle’s engine, chassis, fluids, accessories, body, cargo, driver and passengers. A Class A CDL grants permission to drive any commercial motor vehicle (CMV) or motor vehicle, including a combination of vehicles exceeding 26,001 pounds or more (GVWR). A Class B CDL grants permission to drive any single vehicle of 26,001 pounds or more (GVWR), or any vehicle towing another vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds (GVWR). A Class C CDL qualifies drivers to operate any commercial vehicle or combination of vehicles that do not meet the restrictions outlined under the Class A and Class B classifications. In general, Class C drivers use commercial motor vehicles to transport sixteen or more passengers, or to transport placarded hazardous materials under the Hazardous Material Regulations. A CDL may also require certain endorsements to transport passengers or certain cargo.
Despite its rewarding potential, truck driving carries numerous challenges that may prove difficult for most over the long term. For instance, truckers face long and boring drives that may take months before they finally return home. In addition, truckers have one of the most demanding and life-threatening occupations available across industrialized societies. They have to drive in unsafe weather conditions under strict time restraints that cause them to push themselves to their limit, regardless if it starts to pour down rain or snow covers the asphalt. Truckers also have to face driving for long hours, which can cause problems when driving at night. Therefore, truckers have to exercise caution while traveling the roads. Safety plays an important role in the overall safety of truck drivers and other drivers on the road.
Follow these resources to find out more about becoming a truck driver:
Truck Driving Basics
Driving in Inclement Weather & Other Conditions
Defensive Driving and Maneuvering
Staying Fit and Alert to Drive