The Underappreciated Professional Truck Driver

    

Born and raised in trucking, Campbell is passing his years of experience along as C1 Director. Read more from

Professional truck driverToo often, truck drivers are underappreciated because the majority of people simply don’t realize what it takes to do the job.  I routinely tell students here at C1 Springfield that the easiest part of being a professional truck driver is driving a truck.  What does that mean??  The singular act of driving a tractor trailer down the highway can be fairly simple.  When I was an OTR truck driver, I LOVED driving my truck down the highway.  That’s because that was the easiest part of the job.

More than just driving

Before I ever started my trip I had a multitude of things to do before I ever “put ‘er in the wind.”  I had to know exactly what my load weighed, how much my tractor/trailer weighed, can I legally scale that load, do I have the hours of service to deliver that load as planned, do I need maintenance en-route, am I permitted to travel the states that the load requires, if not, how do I get that permit, what are the various states’ bridge (length) laws, where are my fuel stops, am I pre-planned to pick up a load after I deliver this one, etc, etc, etc.  Believe  me, this list of considerations is NOT totally inclusive.  That’s why I loved the driving.   The planning was done and I could focus on what I truly love:  traveling our beautiful country in a safe manner while earning a good living.  I have always prided myself on doing the job to the absolute best of my ability, and the vast majority of drivers do the same.

When do you become a professional?

I ask all of my students on day one to raise their hand if they believe that they will leave C1 as a “truck driver” and each week everyone does.  I never raise my hand, and I explain to them that earning your CDL at C1 Springfield is just tiny little step one in your training pipeline to becoming a professional truck driver.  From here you will attend orientation, go over the road with a driver trainer, and then have to be evaluated by your carrier in order to get a truck assignment.  At that point, you have just scratched the surface.  You have received a lot of training but honestly, you cannot train experience.  I don’t care how good of a training program you have.  I feel like after 1 year over the road after your initial training period, you can truly call yourself a professional driver.  There are too many roads, too many loads, and too many variables to encounter in one year, however that one year will expose you to enough to have you both mentally and physically trained for what may come next.

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Courtesy toward the professional truck driver

I wish that people would show common courtesy and appreciation year round for what it takes to be a professional driver.  Extended periods away from home, living day and night in your truck, and facing the ever-changing climate while traveling are enough to break a lot of people.  Truck drivers are hard working, dedicated career men and women like anyone else.  Their chosen vocation brings a multitude of stressors encountered in one day that most people won’t experience all week, or month for that matter.  No matter their background or where they’re from, they share one common goal — to pick up and deliver all freight as scheduled,  in the most safe and reasonable method possible.  Show your appreciation by understanding what it takes to navigate a 70 foot long, 80,000 pound vehicle.  Understand what it takes to stop, turn, and get the vehicle moving from a dead stop.  If you understand what it takes to operate the vehicle, I think you’ll have a greater appreciation for what these professionals go through daily.

  • Wayne Cragg

    Thank you Rich! Great Blog..