Rites of Passage on the Highway

  • Blogs By Author

  • Blogs By Tag

A "Rite Of Passage", as defined by Wikipedia, is a ritual event that marks a person's progress from one status to another. Ever since man crawled out of caves on his knuckles, there has been a "rite of passage" in the community. Rites of passage, going back to the tribal days of man's existence, have largely been religious in nature. In trucking, as in many areas of life, there is also a rite of passage - several of them, actually. Rites of Passage didn't disappear. They've transformed.


In 1893, a French sociologist named Emile Durkheim published a book called "The Division of Labor in Society," which in part posed that, because rites of passage from our "tribal" days were no longer being practiced, that we as a society were experiencing a loss of norms, values, and a cultural loss (in French, he described it as "Anomie"). Durkheim posed that as individuals in a modern world, we were no longer socially connected to our communities.

While Durkheim may have missed the mark on a few levels, he was on to something, especially as it relates to today's trucking culture. Rites of passage are everywhere in our society. First Communions for Catholics and Bar Mitzvah for Jewish people are a couple of religious examples. In the military, there is the transition between enlisted and the NCO Corp, for example. In the factory, there is the transition to Shop Foreman. For Walmart, the transition from hourly employee to salaried employee is a rite of passage. A rite of passage always marks some transition in life in the eyes of the community.

In almost all cases of rites of passage however, the actual rite has to be earned. You don't get the promotion unless you've earned it. You don't make First Communion unless you put some work into it. The Military pilot doesn't get the new airplane unless he/she has proven themselves a capable pilot.

Yet in the Trucking industry, many drivers expect the rite of passage into a new truck right away, without doing anything to earn it or prove themselves. Many new drivers expect the best equipment, best freight, tons of miles, and plenty of home time without doing anything to engage the rite of passage.

A society is simply a group of people gathered together with a common interest. While truckers may believe that they are "not the same," and certainly there is a unique culture in trucking, the fact is that every society has a basic framework - rites of passage being one of them. It takes a concerted effort to destroy the basic framework of a group, and such groups really do end up with no values, no norms, and no culture.

While many truckers, especially those that are new to the industry, may believe that they deserve brand new trucks, the best loads, and special favors, the fact remains that they have to prove themselves first - something every industry (society) does. When you finally do receive the new truck, or start to get the better loads, you know you have "come of age" and received a rite of passage that lets the rest of the community know that you've proven yourself. In that, there is no greater pride.

Related Articles:

Choosing A Truck Driving Job Part V: Comparing Large Trucking Companies To Small Ones

In this article, learn about the pros and cons of working for a large trucking company, and the differences between a small and large company. Understand the importance of making smart decisions, and find out about different types of trucking jobs.

Mama Said They'll Be Days Like This

A truck driver recounts his week of misadventures, from Jacksonville to Stockbridge, Georgia. After a series of mishaps, the driver learns a valuable lesson about always checking the kingpin to the fifth wheel before hooking up to a trailer.

Do I Have What It Takes To Be A Successful Truck Driver?

This article explains the importance of proving your worth as a truck driver to succeed in the trucking industry. Find out what qualities make a successful truck driver, how to communicate with dispatch, and how to manage time efficiently.

Four Traps That New Truck Drivers Fall Into

This article provides tips for truck drivers and anyone in the trucking industry on how to avoid common traps that cause people to quit their trucking career prematurely. It explains the research, training, and solo traps, as well as the starter company trap. It encourages readers to be tenacious and independent to achieve success in the trucking industry.

The First Year Trap

TruckingTruth provides advice for first year drivers on how to make the most of their first year in the trucking industry. Learn how to avoid the First Year Trap by having the right attitude, communicating effectively, and performing well.

Why Join Trucking Truth?

We have an awesome set of tools that will help you understand the trucking industry and prepare for a great start to your trucking career. Not only that, but everything we offer here at TruckingTruth is 100% free - no strings attached! Sign up now and get instant access to our member's section:
High Road Training Program Logo
  • The High Road Training Program
  • The High Road Article Series
  • The Friendliest Trucker's Forum Ever!
  • Email Updates When New Articles Are Posted

Apply For Paid CDL Training Through TruckingTruth

Did you know you can fill out one quick form here on TruckingTruth and apply to several companies at once for paid CDL training? Seriously! The application only takes one minute. You will speak with recruiters today. There is no obligation whatsoever. Learn more and apply here:

Apply For Paid CDL Training