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Truck Driving Question And Answer - Question 5

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Trucking Question:

I am thinking about getting my CDL and becoming a truck driver. How safe is truck driving from the stand point of getting enough rest? How do you keep your loads safe from people who may hurt you and steal the load? What do you do when you are extremely tired and your manager wants that you keep driving? Please tell me about all the obstacles and challenges that you have, so I can see if truck driving is the right career for me.


Hi Mansour

You have some excellent questions. First, there are a lot of materials on my website that cover some of these exact questions, and my book covers every one of them.

Here are a few articles that you'll find very helpful:

Becoming A Truck Driver Part 3: How Do I Know If Trucking Is For Me?

Becoming A Truck Driver Part 5: Will I Enjoy Life On The Road?

Truck Driving Story From Phoenix, AZ

Truck Driving Story From New York, NY

The first two explain a lot about what life on the road is like. The last two are stories of mine from the road to give you some examples of some of the stuff you will find out there.

Now I'll answer your questions directly.

How safe is driving from the aspect of getting enough sleep?

As far as safety concerns with getting enough rest - there will be times when getting enough sleep is very tough or nearly impossible. The hours are very inconsistent. Sometimes you might pick up a load at 2:00 in the afternoon, sometimes 2:00 at night. Sometimes you have to run odd hours because of traffic concerns. Say for instance you have a delivery at 8:00 in the morning in Chicago. Well, you sure can't go strolling into Chicago at 7:30 and expect to get there on time. You'll be stuck in traffic and you'll be late. So you go in about 4:30 in the morning, arrive at the customer, take a nap for a few hours, and your day begins again. So there is no way that you will always get enough sleep. Time will teach you how to schedule your runs the best way you can - but more than anything else you will learn to get by sometimes on 3 hours of sleep sometimes. That is just the reality of life on the road. It's not a nine to five schedule.

How do you keep your loads safe?

Really, this is very rarely a problem. If you put a super heavy duty lock on the trailer, that is usually all you will ever need. I've driven for 15 years, rarely locked the trailer, and never once had anything stolen. Now here is something to look out for - sometimes you will pick up valuable loads - say a load of computers. What will happen is there are thieves that will drive around in vans. They know the company you picked up at has just given you a load of computers. So what they will do is secretly follow you, hoping you stop somewhere soon down the road to get something to eat at a truckstop or take a nap in a rest area. When they get their chance they'll open up the trailer, grab a bunch of computers, load them in the van, and be gone in a matter of minutes. That's if you're lucky. If you're unlucky, you'll go in the truckstop to get something to eat and when you come back outside, your truck is gone. The best thing to do when you get a load like that is leave the shipper and drive for at least 200 miles. They will only follow you for so long and then they'll turn back and wait on the next truck to leave the warehouse. 200 miles without stopping and you should be fine. The other obvious point is don't sleep overnight in a bad part of a city. It isn't always avoidable, but usually it is. But I wouldn't be too concerned with this. Theft does happen, but it's pretty rare overall. Common sense will usually keep you out of trouble.

What if you're really tired and they want you to keep driving?

See, this is a fine line you have to walk. If once in a while you're just too tired to get somewhere on time, most companies will let that go. But if you do it too often, they simply won't give you very many good loads. You'll be sitting a lot and all of the good loads will go to the guys who are consistently on time. Again, after a while you will learn to schedule your runs in a way that you can get the job done safely. But no matter how long you've been driving, sometimes you're going to be tired and it comes down to a decision you have to make - can I grab a nice big cup of coffee to stay awake safely for a couple more hours or do I have to shut down for the night and be late with this load? You have to know your own limits and always put safety first. Your manager will never, ever actually say you have to keep running even though you are tired. He will start giving you less miles though if you can't seem to get the job done as well as other drivers. It's kind of an 'unwritten rule' that the guys who are willing to run the hardest will get the most miles and the best loads. The guys who can't seem to get the job done wind up sitting an awful lot.

The articles and my answers will give you a good start. If you're really, really serious about becoming a truck driver and you really want to know all the information you can get before making a decision, my book is the way to go. It's very inexpensive and it is packed with every detail I could think of from 15 years on the road. Here is the link to my book about becoming a truck driver.

I sure hope this helped!

red peterbuilt ask a truck driving question

For questions about becoming a truck driver, we highly recommend:

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