“What does a truck driver do exactly?”
This is one question that often gets asked when the topic of truck driving is raised. With a fairly lucrative career path and an obviously high level of mobility, surely there must be more to truck driving than just operating a fairly large vehicle across vast distances.
The truth is that the humble truck operator takes on several roles. And, many of these do not exactly limit themselves to merely maneuvering the vehicle through traffic.
Obviously, drivers are tasked with operating the truck through a considerable distance in order to carry goods from Point A to B, and so on. In this regard, they can also be tasked with assisting in the loading and unloading of cargo. They are likewise tasked in making sure that the same is secured within the truck’s cargo area.
On the road, drivers are expected to adhere to traffic rules and must coordinate their activities with the dispatcher, as well as other truck drivers within their vicinity. This includes reporting any occurrence that is unusual within the road, as well as alerting others of other potential hazards that they might encounter.
Lastly, the truck driver is expected to keep a log of all their activities while on the road. This includes the number of miles they have driven for that assignment, and the hours they have spent driving.
Truck Maintenance and General Safety
Drivers are also required to make sure that the vehicle assigned to them is in working order before and after every assignment. In this regard, the operator of the truck is expected to conduct a thorough inspection of their assigned vehicle and notify maintenance crew of anything unusual they might discover.
If the truck itself breaks down in the middle of an operation, the driver is also expected to coordinate their efforts with responding personnel and dispatchers to get the truck back in working order as soon as possible. Also, they must be able to perform minor repairs and clean-up on the vehicle whenever necessary or on schedule.
In the event of the truck figuring in a roadside collision or any other similar incident, the operator is responsible for checking the state of the cargo, coordinating their movements with responding personnel, and assisting affected individuals. They are also expected to prepare a detailed report on the incident for the reference of their company and the client.
One of the more important responsibilities of a driver is in making sure that their activities, practices, and vehicles comply with most recent standards in the transportation industry. It is important to note that state requirements for truck drivers change from time to time. This is why operators of trucks are expected to be aware of the most recent amendments to their codes.
One of the areas that a driver also has to focus on is in adhering to traffic laws, as well as specific road signs. Due to the nature of the vehicle, there are places where it will be difficult for a semi truck to maneuver through. As such, an ability to identify these areas and coordinate one’s movement through it will be important in ensuring that the cargo arrives in its destination on time.
Becoming a Truck Driver
The path to a truck driving career is a fairly straightforward experience. There are other requirements that a prospective operator must meet. These include:
Simply put, a truck operator hopeful must have enrolled at a certified Truck Driving school. There is quite a number of vocational institutions out there that offer courses in handling large vehicles for commercial use such as lorries, tractors, and other truck-like machines.
Here, students will learn how to maneuver these vehicles through traffic on city streets as well as the open highway. Other topics to be tackled include vehicle maintenance, trucking communications, roadside safety, the different traffic and trucking laws for that state, and interpreting traffic signs.
Training and the Licensure Exam
Hands-on training for potential truck operators is usually given by a company linked to the school or any other affiliate. This would span a few hours of instruction and several days of monitoring through an experienced operator. Either way, the potential operator should learn how a vehicle of this design should be handled on the road within a few short weeks.
Once they have clocked in the necessary driving hours, they can then submit themselves to the state exam for a Commercial Driver’s License. The CDL exam is highly necessary as passing it allows a person to not only operate large vehicles, but also transport hazardous materials.
Rarely does a person enter into truck driving without a solid foundation of the basics of operating a vehicle. One must also get a Driver’s License from their state, which signifies that they are capable of operating light vehicles.
Other job experiences related to this career might include handling shipping and freight operations as a truck driver’s helper and work as an emergency response vehicle driver. Experience handling large vehicles in the Armed Forces also helps in securing a job as a truck operator quickly.
Aside from the right credentials, a potential truck driver should also possess the inherent qualities that make them compatible to their job.
- Physical Requirements – Truck drivers must be able to lift at least half of their body weight and have good health. Their vision must at least by 20/40. They must possess good hearing. Lastly, a truck operator must have strong spatial awareness to properly maneuver a large vehicle through small spaces.
- Verbal and Communication Skills –Drivers must at the very least speak basic English. They must also be able to properly interpret road signs, as well as the cues given to them by dispatchers, other motorists, and law enforcement personnel.
- Social Standing – If possible, a prospective truck operator must not have been convicted of any felony. As a matter of fact, drivers with a history of driving under the influence, drug dependency, and figuring in hit-and-run incidents tend to have fewer job opportunities than those with a clean background.