Responsibilities that Come with Being a Truck Driver
I remember the first time I climbed into a big rig. I was around 8 years old, and it felt like magic. I knew there would come a day that I’d drive a transport, that I’d listen to the chatter on the CB radio, and that I’d roll more miles in a month than some folks do all year.
Well, the CB sure has gotten quiet, but the miles still roll by, with the restrictions and regulations getting heavier and heavier. To many, trucking still looks like a free-living lifestyle that gives the brave men and women of the road, an opportunity to see the country, courtesy of the profits of trucking. Well, some of that may be true. But there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with being a truck driver.
This has always stuck with me: “Anyone can drive the tractor, but not everyone can drive a trailer.” The finesse of truck driving is missed by many. Drivers are always looking at safety from the space we need to pass another driver, to the way we back into a parking spot. It’s incredible how we can maneuver 70+ feet into tight spaces, yet small errors in a transport can have catastrophic effects on those around us. Included in driver safety is the oft-neglected pre-trip and post-trip inspections. I know many drivers simply tick the box saying it was completed but actually getting out of your truck to complete the daily inspection can save you headaches down the road. More than once I have discovered a punctured trailer tire on a morning inspection. I’d rather face a flat at the beginning or end of my day than have a highway blow-out causing delays and potential damage to my truck, and others around me.
When I decided to be a truck driver, I envisioned myself behind the wheel, sun shining on the smile plastered across my face. I soon learned that I was responsible for ensuring the load on my trailer was safe and scaled. Learning how to determine the weight of a load per linear foot, balancing the load to maximize capacity, securing a load with straps or chains, and different load bar weight limits stretched my early capacity for learning. Get secured, then you can drive.
The basic rules are the same, but there are truck specific rules. And some rules vary between states and provinces. For example, the use of certain colored lights on your truck can get you a fine in some states, but not others. The onus is on you to know. Some areas have specific truck lane restrictions to help ensure a smooth traffic flow (for non-commercial transport), but you will see some asphalt cowboys ignoring the road rules and hoping for the best. One tip I wish every trucker on a three-lane highway would understand: The center lane is a passing lane so if you’re not passing anyone, please move to the right. Thank you. I feel better already.
Gone are the days of two or three logbooks to get you across the country in record time. It is your responsibility to understand the proper use of your ELD to ensure you don’t violate the hours-of-service regulations. Being off by a couple of minutes can shut you down for hours so know your device and the rules.
Finally, if you’re not well, everything else takes a hit. It’s your responsibility to look after your physical and mental health. You matter. There’s only one of you so be sure to care for yourself so you can keep on truckin’.