What Indiana Truck Drivers Want the Rest of Us on the Roads to Know
We have realized, especially in the past couple of years, how much we depend on truck drivers. Just about anything and everything we want or need in our lives has to be delivered and is almost always done by truck drivers.
Have you ever considered a career in trucking? Have you, at least ever just wondered what is like to be a truck driver? I have an immense appreciation for what those folks do - the hours they put in, the way they maneuver through tight places, and the idiots (myself included) they deal with on the roads every day.
We spoke to a couple of truck drivers and basically gave them an open forum to tell us anything they want us to know. Some of it is advice for the rest of us - ways we can make their job easier and safer - and some of it is just a bit of insight into the life of a trucker, including advice for anyone interested in driving a truck for a living.
We interviewed Chance Albin, a driver for Marathon Corp., and Kirk - the owner of Freedom Transportation, LLC.
What's the Most Frustrating Thing About Being on the Road?
Chance: In all honesty, the scariest part of driving a truck is that you have no idea what people around you are going to do next. You always have to assume that everybody is going to cut you off or somehow cause an accident. You have to be the one to look out for yourself and other people. Not to mention, you're driving an 80,000 lb vehicle and you're the one that's supposed to be trained to keep control and keep everyone safe.
It’s really really frustrating that people text and drive. It’s also really, really frustrating when they cut you off. 80,000 lb vehicles can’t stop as quickly as your Honda Civic.
Kirk: Don’t cut truckers off. When you do, they have to stop quickly and that wastes gallons of fuel. Give truckers plenty of room – again we don’t start and stop as quickly as you do.
Are Truckers Stereotyped?
Chance: It's funny the way that truckers can be perceived. Back in the '60s to the '90s truck drivers were considered the modern-day cowboy. And then after a while, a select group of truckers who didn’t care about their personal image became the stereotype. I think it kind of soured people. But there are really respectable truckers from all backgrounds, all nationalities, and all walks of life.
Kirk: Truckers are not dummies. There’s always a stigma with an unknown culture and there are some truckers who give the entire industry a bad reputation but lots of us have college degrees. And you aren’t just sitting there zoning out. 100 % of your focus is on driving. You have so many things going on with your truck and around you, you have to stay focused.
Also, this is a male-dominated industry but trucking is definitely for women too. Some of my best trainees and the best truck drivers I’ve known have been women.
How Did You Get into Trucking?
Chance: I have a college degree but I quickly realized that I would start off making next to nothing. I could barely support myself and it was so frustrating. Trucking has a fairly short training time for livable income. And there’s always room for opportunity and growth.
How Can You Grow Your Career as a Trucker?
Kirk: Trucking is an industry that offers plenty of vertical movement for lots of different types of people. I started off as a driver. Then I did training, was in management, and now I own my own company.
What Should People Who Are Thinking About Going into Trucking Know Before Diving In?
Chance: Trucking is long hours but is also rewarding.
If you are thinking of going into trucking, do your homework on the different trucking employment opportunities. Depending on if you own or lease your truck and the contract you have under your company, you might make a huge paycheck but then you have to turn around and pay for things like a truck payment, insurance, maintenance, licensing, and fuel. Fuel costs can make or break you.
Kirk: If you are thinking about going into trucking the first thing you need to do is research what line of work you want to get into. There are so many avenues, you’ll waste time and money if you don’t have a clear path.
There are three main types of truckers – Over-the-Road (OTR), Regional, and Local. OTRs will be gone for about eight weeks at a time. Regional drivers are gone for a few days a week. And locals go home each night.
This past February, it was federally mandated that once you obtain your trucking permit, you must either attend a certified school or receive training from an employer that trains. There are grants to help with offsetting the cost of school, but I’d suggest going with the employer training if you can. Mainly because most places won’t hire you without experience – the second route gives you that experience.
Do You Have to Parallel Park?
Kirk: Yes, you have to parallel park on your license test. I think parallel parking a semi is easier than parallel parking a car. It’s also easier than backing straight up.
Did You Like OTR Trucking?
Chance: Over-the-road trucking has advantages and disadvantages. There were times that I requested hauls to California or Florida so that I could spend a few extra days on vacation. But you have less time with friends and family.
Anything Else You Want People to Know?
Chance: Parking sucks and if you go into trucking, a trucker’s GPS is worth every cent.
Kirk: Be patient with truckers. We are just doing our jobs to get you the things you want and need to get through your life!
SEE: 35 Personalized License Plates the Indiana BMV Rejected
- Carries a meaning or connotation offensive to good taste and decency;
- Would be misleading; or
- The BMV otherwise considers improper for issuance.