February 22, 2011

What Next?: Truck Drivers

You could make a career out of your love for the open road.

Shely: Hi, guys! I am in Columbus, Ohio, and today we are going to show you what a day in the life of a truck driver is like. We found a teen who thinks she might want to be a trucker. So, let’s go pick her up and take her for a spin!

This is Jerry he is our truck driver for the day, and he just flew in all the way from Boston to show us the ropes. Hi, Jerry!

Jerry: Hi, guys!

Shelby: Jerry is a winner of the Master Truck Driver Award, which is like the MVP award for truckers. So he goes around the country educating people about truck driving.

And now he is taking us to a school to pick up our teen and surprise her.

“Shelby! Shelby! Shelby!”

Shelby: Hi, guys! Is one of you Jordan Bury?

Jordan Bury: I am!

Shelby: I hear you want to be a truck driver when you are older?

Jordan: Yes!

Shelby: Well, we would love to give you a spin! Do you want to come with us?

Jordan: Yes!

Shelby: Let’s hop in!

Like Jerry, our truck is an ambassador for the industry. This baby is 70-feet long and weighs in at 80,000 when fully loaded. It is state-of-the-art inside.

Jerry: We have got our own TV and DVD. We have got a refrigerator. Right up here, behind you, we’ve actually got two bunks. So you can have one guy back here sleeping and the other is up front driving. The guys that end up going across the country, that’s what they’re doing.

Shelby: Since many drivers are on the road for two to three weeks at a time, Jordan wanted to test out the bed.

Jordan: I think we should take a nap!

Shelby: Then it was time to dine at a truck stop.

It’s spicy chipotle!

Truck drivers not only eat at truck stops, they shower, do laundry and shop.

Jerry: This is one of my favorite sections where they have all the electronic goodies truck drivers like. I like my CBs a lot.

Shelby: What is that?

Jerry: That’s how truck drivers talk to each other on the road and let each other know if there’s a problem.

Shelby: What was Jordan’s favorite item?

Jordan: Barbie!

Shelby: Then we hit the road!

Jordan: How many hours a day do you drive?

Jerry: You are only allowed to drive for 11-hours a day and work 14-hours a day.

Shelby: How come?

Jerry: They want to cut down on driver fatigue.

Jordan: Do you drive at night?

Jerry: Drivers try to drive at night. You can make a lot more miles at night, a lot less traffic, a lot less congestion and the construction isn’t as bad.

Shelby: Many drivers get paid by the number of miles they drive so that is important to them. And so is getting goods into their truck.

Jerry: a lot of people think truck drivers get on the truck and drive up and down the road and that’s all they do. Well, that’s not true.

Shelby: Most truck drivers spend several hours a day loading and unloading cargo. They do it by backing their truck into a place like this one called a loading dock.

Jerry: You might have 15-20 pieces of freight come in on a trailer and they are all going different directions.

Shelby: Truck drivers like Jerry unload the goods and reorganize them, putting all packages going north on one truck and everything going south on another. At some point almost every product sold in the United States is driven by a truck driver at some point.

So, what is next for Jordan?

Truck drivers need to take a 4 to 8 week training course to get a commercial driver’ license. But you  can’t start driving trucks until they are 21 though. As far as school goes, aspiring truck drivers should study business and mechanics.

Most truck drivers earn between $14 and $23 an hour, that is $35 – $65,000 a year. It may pay well but it is also one of the most dangerous jobs in terms of injuries from lifting cargo and fatalities from accidents. In 2009, 550 drivers died on the job.

Jordan: Do you consider your job dangerous?

Jerry: I don’t consider my job dangerous.

Jordan: Have you ever had an accident?

Jerry: No. I’ve driven over 1.8 million miles over twenty years and never had an accident or a speeding ticket.

Shelby: It was time to let Jerry get back behind the wheel.

Thanks so much! That was such a fun day. We had a great time with you.

Jordan: Thank you.

Jerry: Glad to have you along. Like to see you on the road some time.

Shelby: Will he? Well, at the end of the day Jordan gave truck drivers like Jerry a thumbs up!

Jordan: I have a have a newfound respect for them. And I probably won’t get mad the next time they cut me off on the highway because they are delivering everything I have.

Shelby: But she is not sure it is the road for her.

Jordan: It’s a possibility. But I have no idea what college I’m going to yet, so I’m still exploring my options.

Shelby: It is a ways away. Thanks so much. It was great to meet you. Talk to you soon.


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