Truck Driving – Solitude or Solace

Truck Driving – Solitude or Solace

Life as a truck driver can be one of long times by yourself. Local delivery drivers will often have much more interaction with customers and even company dock workers. However, most new drivers will not be working locally. They will be at best regionally and most likely Over the Road (OTR).

The result is that you will be spending a lot a time alone. Some people become truck drivers because of they crave this loneliness. Some are tired of the rat race of office politics or the being just a number of factor working. Some people are natural introverts and being alone is no big deal.

Every person deals with the alone time differently. Some people do not realize how lonely driving a truck can be. They think that they are going to enjoy it, yet all their employment thus far has been part of a team. A truck driver is part of a team – but they are operating as independent team member. The truck driver has to be a self motivated and self starting person by nature or must be able to learn these skills and traits.

The ability to handle and deal with the Solitude or Solace of being a trucker, especially an Over The Road driver gone from family for weeks at a time, can seriously affect your health. A long haul (1,000 mile average) driver who literally will spend 90% of their time locked in their truck cab is about like being a prisoner in solitude. The driver will have dock interaction picking up the load, getting fuel and maybe stopping to eat and then when they deliver the load. The rest of the time, it is just them. That is a lot of alone time.

This solitude, unless accepted and even appreciated, can also affect the safety of the driver and the rest of the traveling public. Solitude can be very tiring. And a tired truck driver is a dangerous truck driver. The sudden increase in Solitude that a person that had previously had a daily interactive family life and was part of an office or business environment with numerous co-workers could be more then some drivers can stand. One of the ways to deal with this sudden shift in social interactions would be to be part of a team driving. Most new drivers will spend several months as a trainee driver anyway where they will be working with an experienced trucker to learn their job. It may be necessary or at least recommended for some new drivers to seek opportunities as a team driver member even after completing any training requirements.

On the other hand, there are many people that the change from an interactive life style to one of solitude as a truck driver is actually a blessing. It may just what they need to achieve the mental state they relish. Being alone does not mean being lonely – it just means you are comfortable without the need for external reinforcements.

Being a truck driver, especially a new one working over the road, is a different lifestyle then most people are use to living. It can be one of Solitude or it can be a life of Solace.

Happy trucking, John

Hours of Service (HOS) Overview

Hours of Service for truck drivers

The Hours of Service regulations for commercial truck drivers was originally in implemented in 1938. The regulations have been regularly tweaked but have had major revisions in 1939, 1962, 2003 and 2011. The HOS specifies such things as the number of hours a driver may drive without both short and long term breaks, how many hours drivers can do other work such as load and unload, paperwork, truck maintenance and other support services.

In general, all drivers of vehicles of vehicles with a combined Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of 10,001 pounds or more or hauling cargo requiring HazMat placards are required to comply with HOS regulations. Local delivery drivers, while still subject to driving/duty hours requirements, may be exempt from maintaining log books (if their employer uses time clocks or other methods to monitor their activities. There are also other exemptions for select industries, certain weather events or during certain peak business days for some drivers.

The purpose and enforcement of HOS rules are strictly safety based. Contrary to comments over coffee at the local truck stop that the rules are to prevent drivers from earning money – research has repeatedly proven that the longer a driver is working the more likely they are to be involved in an accident. And the risk increases greatly the longer the driver is on duty.

Hours of Service ~ A Driver’s Guide ~ Driver Handbook (Hours of Service)

Hours of Service are divided into 4 classes of activities:

  • Off Duty: No duties or obligations
  • Sleep Berth: Resting in truck sleeper area
  • Driving: In the driver’s seat and operating the truck
  • On Duty, Not Driving: All official duties not driving

HOS activities can be recorded either with a paper log book or electronically using an Electronic On Board Recorder. Either way, the driver is responsible for accurately recording their duty status. Violations of HOS rules by drivers can result in drivers being fined or being placed out of service (truck and loads now parked and delayed). Companies can also be fined or have other actions taken against for them repeated HOS violations by their employees. One action that can be taken against companies with chronic violations is the requirement that the company install Electronic On Board Recorders in their trucks. Another factor affecting truck drivers is that if they get too many moving violations (traffic tickets), they can have their license suspended by their state’s licensing agency – which would mean they would also lose their job.

The goal of Hours of Service rules

In general, HOS regulations state that drivers must log all time as either Driving or On Duty if they are doing any form of work or if they have any obligations. Drivers may not log time spent waiting to load or unload as Off Duty unless they are actually free to leave the truck and have no responsibilities to be present.

Current HOS rules also state that a driver must get at least a 30 minute break after 8 or less hours of driving. And, the driver is entitled to 8 hours of consecutive hours of rest (either off duty or in sleeper) before beginning a new “day” of up to 11 hours of driving. Also, the driver may not drive (at all) if they have accumulated more then 11 hours of driving or 14 hours of all work activities until they have taken the required rest times and time off duty.

Your compliance with Hours of Service regulations will be followed carefully – so play by the rules and have a safe trip.