I started driving for a living back in 2002, after having gone to a truck driving school in St. Louis, MO. Over the years I have seen a lot, experienced a lot and even learned some things, about life, about being a man and fortunately for myself and everyone else on the road, about driving.
I have traveled all 48 lower United States, plus Ontario, Canada and I visited Mexicali, Mexico once while making a stop in Calexico, CA. I have had the opportunity to visit places that children dream of when they open an encyclopedia, turn on the TV or computer or most importantly open up a book to read. Places like Hannibal, Missouri, famous for being the home of Mark Twain, New Orleans, Seattle, Chicago, L.A., NYC and many places in between.
The life of a truck driver is first and foremost, business. The job involves a lot more than driving, though that is what most people see and why a lot now want to be truck drivers. There are many early morning or late night pickups and deliveries, the occasional government inspection of equipment, driver and freight and tons of paperwork that has to be done just right. It is nearly impossible to have a set schedule and drivers are constantly "fudging" the books to make it to the next stop.
By federal regulation and state law(which is uniform throughout the U.S. for interstate drivers) a long haul driver is only allowed to drive 11 hours followed by a 10 hour break and the 11 hours driving has to be finished by the 14th hour of going on duty and only 70 hours total working and driving in an 8 day period. Many drivers flaunt these rules, though they are absolutely necessary for the protection of life and property on our nations highways.
After the business aspect, there is the fun part, traveling. On average a driver runs about 2000 to 2500 miles a week with a few pushing 4200. The miles are long and when a driver is by himself it does get lonely and boring, but there is a lot to see and many new people to meet each and every day.
I always enjoyed the occasional visit to the truck stop. This is the outpost, oasis if you will where a driver prepares for the miles ahead. Truck stops today come equipped with showers, restaurants, arcades and even a lounge with a big screened TV. A driver who is waiting on his next load can drive over, get freshened up, grab a bite and relax, not to mention a few that have a barber shop, electronics/cb store and even the occasional bar(ok, I know alcohol and the road don't mix, but it's nice to unwind after a long week.)
Speaking of the CB, this is a great tool, used by both truck drivers and the traveling public to get information and even keep each other awake and provide someone to chat with over the long miles. Back in the sixties there was a surge in CB use as it hit it's prime and a whole new language came into being. This is still around and even though the CB isn't as popular today as it once was, many still use it and enjoy the benefits.
A little about the truck itself. Most trucks weigh about 30,000 pounds empty, this is truck and trailer. With the load and freight that goes up to at or near 80,000 pounds. Most, though not all, trucks are on the order of 68 to 71 feet long and are 8 and 1/2 foot wide. It takes about 600 feet to stop a truck at 60 miles per hour.
In closing, I'll say that trucking and those who drive, dispatch, work in the warehouses and on the docks are the lifeblood of our great nation. If any of these elements of this industry cease, everything comes to a screeching halt. We need to give thanks for and to those who keep America moving and our economy(even slow as it may be) afloat and in good times, prospering. Please, as you ride up the highway, throw up your hand in thanks to those kings of the road and give us just a little more room when passing, your life may depend on it.