Becoming An American Trucker

by Rick Huffman

I was probably one of the most unlikely candidates to become a truck driver that the world has ever seen. Not only had I worked in a sedentary job for the past 20 years, I had never driven anything larger than a U-Haul. To be sure, my skills at maneuvering any vehicle larger than a Ford Focus left a lot to be desired. I once attempted to back a U-Haul to the door of my former girlfriend's apartment. She finally grew weary of observing my struggle and offered to take over. While I can't swear to it, I think that I could literally feel my testosterone level depleting as she deftly manuevered the truck exactly where it needed to be.

Time For A Career Change

american-trucker.jpg

Meanwhile, I had spent the past 20 years of my life working in television broadcasting in various roles. While it had been exciting and challenging at first, the years had eroded my role into a thankless and suffocating rut. I seriously needed a change...a new experience. I can only chalk it up to chance that I ran across one of those CDL school ads in the Sunday paper and, unlike the dozens of other times that I'd seen them, and ignored them, it caught my eye this time. If a major change was what I needed, this certainly seemed to be the ticket.

In the following days, I will attempt to share my experiences from my first year on the road. This story runs the gambit from a wide-eyed rookie in CDL school to the eventual embracing of a new lifestyle at a dusty little truck stop in Crab Orchard, Tennessee. My loyal traveling cat accompanied me for the entire journey, and the adventures of "Kitty" will be included as well.

Understanding Truck Drivers

There are over 3.4 million long-distance truck drivers in the United States and millions more in local delivery operations. Motorists share the highway with them every day yet, little is known about the lifestyle of a long-haul trucker outside of the inner sanctum of the trucking industry. Hollywood paints truckers as uneducated southern rednecks who are heavily adorned in flannel and answer to a name such as Bubba, Jim Bob, or Cooter. Through his tobacco-stained teeth, he necessarily hits on every woman he sees while hiding his wedding ring.

In truth, trucking attracts people as diverse as the aforementioned stereotype to former doctors, CEO's, bankers, engineers, and even members of MENSA. The diversity among truck drivers is just as great as in any other profession.

Telling It Like It Is

In the days to follow, I seek neither to champion the causes of truckers, nor to verbally flog trucking company management, although each may happen to some degree. I make no claim that my view is the correct one nor that my opinion reflects that of all truckers...this is simply an account from one driver's perspective. The only guarantee I make is that the story will be told with honesty and from a singular perspective.

It is said that everyone has a story to tell...and this is the story of the life of an American Trucker.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

by Brett Aquila

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TruckingTruth was founded by Brett Aquila (that's me!), a 15 year truck driving veteran, in January 2007. After 15 years on the road I wanted to help people understand the trucking industry and everything that came with the career and lifestyle of an over the road trucker. We'll help you make the right choices and prepare for a great start to your trucking career.

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Becoming A Truck Driver is a dream we've all pondered at some point in our lives. We've all wondered if the adventure and challenges of life on the open road would suit us better than the ordinary day to day lives we've always known. At TruckingTruth we'll help you decide if trucking is right for you and help you get your career off to a great start.

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