Unless you've worked in or near the transport industry, it's easy to fall for some of the most common myths and misconceptions about truck drivers. People have earned a good living as professional vehicle operators for more than a century. In the 1920s the industry was small and there were few national carriers that employed large numbers of drivers. Today, the situation is completely different from what it was in the early days of transport trucking.
It's important for investors as well as consumers and small business owners in other industries to understand what makes the transportation sector tick. It's also essential to understand the truth about common myths, which include ideas about how many drivers work long-haul routes, how they maintain records of their work, what they earn, how their benefits stack up against other industries, and what training programs cost. Here's a summary of the most common myths about the people behind the wheel of commercial trucks.
Most Truckers Drive Long-Haul Routes
The vast majority of what the public refers to as truckers are short-haul or local employees. Only a small percentage of these professionals do long runs between cities or on interstate routes. In terms of miles driven, it's not even a contest because local haulers work the same number of hours, but there are many more of them. Every convenience store, grocery chain, and retail outlet receive local shipments on a daily basis. This can provide you a good work life balance if that is something you need to prioritize.
Fleet Drivers Keep Written Records
Not long ago, all vehicle operators kept detailed written, hard-copy records of all their activities, including hours on the road, rest periods, accident reports, breakdowns, and more. Nowadays, all records are maintained by ELDs (electronic logging devices) that meet strict legal compliance requirements automatically. The sophisticated devices do everything the old written records did but verify the data by having a third-party compile it. It's thus easier to meet HOS (hours of service) requirements, streamline routes, help supervisors oversee the work of multiple drivers, and more. There's no better way to understand how modern technology helps fleets stay compliant and reach efficient goals than having vehicle telematics as part of daily operations.
Pay and Benefits Are Average
In the 2020s, big-rig operators are among the best paid of all transportation industry employees outside of airline pilots. This was not always the case. With the rise of high-tech vehicles and strict legal requirements in the transportation field, anyone who drives a modern truck must undergo intensive, thorough training and long apprenticeship periods before becoming established in the job. You should still measure inflation against your salary though to be sure that you are earning a living wage in accordance with industry standards.
Training is Expensive for New Operators
Very few who enter the industry today pay for their own training courses, which can be quite pricey. In the majority of situations, fresh recruits enter training via a corporate sponsor, usually one of the transport firms that want to hire them. In exchange for free tuition, the candidate typically agrees to work for a specific carrier for the first year of their driving career.
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© Drew Allen 2022