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Day in the Life of a Truck Driver

Are you curious what a day in the life of a truck driver actually looks like? Want to learn more about the life of a truck driver so that you can decide whether the profession is right for you? Below, we’ll highlight the typical schedule of a truck driver. We even discuss some of the benefits of becoming a truck driver and you can learn more about this in-demand profession.

What Does the Typical Day for a Truck Driver Look Like?

Today, we’ll be looking at a typical day in the life of an over-the-road (OTR) truck driver. Unlike local drivers that are home every evening, OTR truckers are typically gone for weeks at a time. They will pick up a load, deliver it to its destination, and then proceed to the next designated location.

Depending on the company that they work for, an OTR driver may haul loads throughout a region or even across the nation.

Regardless of what type of trailer they use or what materials they are transporting, most OTR truck drivers’ days can be broken down into the following three phases:

Truck Driver’s Typical Morning Schedule

If the driver is already on the road, then they will usually begin their day in the sleeper cabin of their truck.

  • Starting Early: Most truck drivers like to get an early start on their day. This practice allows them to perform basics like taking a shower or performing other hygiene-related tasks before the truck stop gets too crowded.
  • Breakfast: The life of a truck driver often involves eating breakfast at the truck stop that they parked at for the night. Fortunately, most of these truck stops are connected to fast food restaurants, which means that drivers can grab a quick bite to eat without wasting too much time.
  • Pre-Trip Inspection: Once they have had breakfast and that all-important cup of coffee, the driver will need to perform a pre-trip inspection on their truck. They will also need to inspect the trailer to ensure that it is safe to drive.
  • Getting on the Road: After the pre-trip inspection is complete, the driver will hit the road. They will usually try to get on the road as early as possible so that they do not have to contend with rush hour traffic. Remember, drivers must log their hours of service, which means that any traffic delays can cause a delivery to be late.

Truck Driver’s Typical Afternoon Schedule

If all went according to plan, the driver would likely make it to their delivery location by early to midafternoon. Their afternoon schedule will consist of the following:

  • Drop & Hook: Depending on the company and the type of materials that the driver is hauling, they may be able to make a “drop & hook” delivery. This means that they will “drop” their current load at the destination and “hook” up to another trailer. The drop & hook method is the most efficient style of delivery.
  • Live Unload: Live unload is a delivery method that is commonly used among LTL or less-than-truckload haulers. The driver must back up to a warehouse bay and remain there while staff members unload the requisite items from their trailer. After unloading is complete, the driver will either proceed to their next location or will return the container to a port.
  • Lunch: After completing the delivery, the driver will then stop for lunch. They may have food stored in the cabin of their truck or park at a restaurant, depending on their current schedule.
  • Next Load and Trip Planning: The driver will conclude their afternoon by driving towards their next load pickup destination. If they do not have another load already arranged, then they may stop and plan the next phase of their trip. This is particularly common amongst owner-operators, as they get to select which loads they want to haul.

Truck Driver’s Typical Night Schedule

As they wind down their day, truck drivers will generally complete tasks like:

  • Finding Parking: Drivers must find parking before they hit their 11-hour time cap. If the driver violates this time cap and operates their vehicle for more than 11 hours in a single day, then they may be subject to fines or can even be put out of service. Generally, drivers will park at a truck stop, which will charge a small overnight parking fee.
  • Post-Trip Inspection: After they get their rig parked, drivers must complete a post-trip inspection to ensure that their vehicle did not incur any damage during the workday. They will assess tires, lights, and other components to verify that they are in good working order.
  • End-Of-Day Paperwork: Drivers must complete daily paperwork, including an hours of service log. The log will list how many hours they drove that day, how many hours they were working but not driving, and how long they spent resting in an off-duty status.
  • Dinner: The driver will then find a place to eat dinner. They may eat at the truck stop, walk to a nearby restaurant, or consume foods that are readily available in their vehicle.
  • Rest and Relaxation: Drivers conclude their day by resting in the sleeper cabin of their truck. Many drivers have installed TVs in their cabins so that they can wind down with a good movie or their favorite TV show.

Advantages of Being a Truck Driver

There are many advantages to living the life of a truck driver, including:

  • Decent salary
  • Career stability
  • Paid time off
  • Freedom
  • Solitude
  • Tuition reimbursement opportunities
  • Travel opportunities

Disadvantages of Being a Truck Driver

While there are many perks to being a truck driver, there are a few drawbacks as well:

  • Lots of time spent alone
  • It can be tough to get a good meal
  • Must be away from home for weeks at a time

Is the Life of a Truck Driver Right for Me?

Now that you know what a day in the life of a truck driver looks like, you are better equipped to decide whether the profession is right for you. 

As you’re making your decision, make sure to weigh the pros and cons of working as a truck driver. If you don’t mind being away from home and enjoy working independently, then you may be well-suited for the life of a truck driver.

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Is Truck Driving a Hard Life?

Like any profession, the life of a truck driver has some benefits and challenges. Driving a commercial truck can be a very rewarding career, especially if you enjoy having time to yourself. However, over the road trucking can be difficult for individuals with children, as they are often gone for weeks at a time.

How Many Hours Do Truck Drivers Drive a Day?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sets maximum hours of service (HOS) limits for commercial truck drivers. Currently, a truck driver can operate their truck for 11 hours per day. At that point, they must take a minimum of a 10-hour break.

Do Truck Drivers Get Weekends Off?

The exact work schedule for a truck driver will vary depending on the company they work for. Over-the-road (OTR) truck drivers are generally gone for several weeks or months at a time and may have to drive on the weekends. However, some OTR companies promise their drivers that they will be home every weekend. It all depends!

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