Truckers can often times be misunderstood. The public see semi-trucks and their drivers every day, but they rarely interact with each other. Truckers have complicated, difficult jobs, and other motorists often contribute to that difficulty.
What do truckers want the rest of us to know? What could the everyday driver do to ease the lives of the hard-working men and women who deliver the world’s goods from place to place. Truckers would be happier people if everyone knew these things.
Driving a semi is a lot different than driving your little Prius. That’s why you need training and a special license to operate one. Everyday motorists should not assume that truckers will behave on the road in the same way that other drivers do. The signs on the back of the trucks telling you to stay back a certain number of feet in order for the driver to see you? Follow them. They’ll keep you and the truckers safe.
Additionally, trucks accelerate differently than smaller vehicles. According to Burch, George & Germany, “Large trucks often weigh 20 to 30 times as much as passenger vehicles.” Trucks are heavy and cumbersome, making navigation difficult and sometimes even dangerous. This makes trucker behavior in traffic confounding for some motorists, but it’s not because the truckers are reckless or rude. It’s just the way their gear moves.
Here’s one thing truckers get tired of hearing: “trucking’s easy. You just drive around all day.” Trucker is definitely not easy. The road contains countless hazards, and every veteran trucker has seen them all. Truckers work very long hours and often rely on cheap food and chemical stimulants like caffeine to keep up the pace. Managers often set schedule that are impossible to complete without speeding and risking tickets.
Life on the road is hard. Trucking is lonely, and the long hours away from home lead to unbearable strains on relationships. And nutrition? Tough luck. Staying healthy is near impossible when you’re forced to sit down all day and have to eat whatever it is the next Denny’s up ahead is offering at three in the morning.
Trucking is its own vibrant subculture. Truckers have their own slang, their own songs, their own social norms, and their own stories. When truckers meet for the first time, each understands that the other one will share many experiences and point of view. This is very important for truckers because life on the road forces drivers to begin and end friendships often. Each stop has its own bunch of people, and truckers need to be able to meet and greet each other with ease.
The image that Hollywood projects of truckers is not true. Many women drive trucks, and truckers come from every educational, ethnic, and class background you could name. They’re not all drug addicts or people with dark secrets. Truckers are just ordinary people trying to make a living.