Trucking is a great career. It offers good pay, new places, life on the move, and lots of personal freedom. Yet, like any career, it has its downsides. Technical issues and malfunctions, organizational, and interpersonal problems. These things can go wrong sometimes. That’s why it can get difficult to find balance and stay relaxed as a trucker.
But, you can get to know all the sides of trucking as a career – the good and the bad. From that knowledge, you can adapt and prepare so that your life gets a lot easier. If you’re able to understand these problems and what causes them, you’ll be able to expect and avoid them.
We’re here to help single out the problems that truck drivers face in their everyday lives. But also to offer solutions so that your trucking career is completely enjoyable. Get to know each problem and the quickest way to solve it, and your trucking career will get on the right track. These are the top 5 biggest problems for truck drivers:
#1 The Schedule (problem)
One of the biggest potential problems for your trucking career is an irregular schedule. Not knowing when you’re driving your next route can be frustrating. Getting routes that are not planned well can hurt your driving efficiency. Finally, not being informed about how much time you’ll be spending behind the wheel can make you feel uneasy. All that affects you on multiple levels.
Inconsistent route plans influence your financial status. Driving a profitable lane for a week, and then getting a bad route the next can make your income unstable. After earning a good fee for a profitable lane, you don’t want to get a bad route that pays poorly or takes too long. Having an inconsistent influx of money will hurt you in the long run, because as a trucker, you can earn up to $130.000. So, every month spent with a bad company means missing out on growing as a professional and getting the best out of a trucking career.
Furthermore, bad schedules for routes hurt your home. Home time is important for drivers. For single drivers who don’t have families, it means recharging your batteries and enjoying some peace and quiet. It’s also a great opportunity to meet up with your friends and loved ones. Every driver needs to maintain their social life and feel satisfied. For drivers with families, this problem becomes even bigger. Not knowing when exactly you will be a home can take a toll on you and your family. Not being able to plan for any appointment can be stressful for everyone involved.
The next big issue with poor scheduling is your health. Inconsistent timetables for your routes will affect your sleeping and eating schedule. Uneven time on and off the road can affect your mental condition and overall mood. If you don’t have any routine on your job, you may find yourself in a burnout very soon.
The Schedule (solution)
To avoid all the negative consequences of poor scheduling, you have to choose companies wisely. Communicate with the management about your schedule before joining the company. When you meet your dispatcher, state your personal needs. Try to kindly ask if there’s a particular route that would suit your life. And keep your eyes open. You need to assess if the company and dispatch are keeping their word.
You don’t want to find yourself working for companies that force you to go on certain routes. Instead, always go for companies that offer no-forced dispatch and who deliver on that deal. Keeping an honest relationship with your employer is crucial for successful cooperation.
If you find yourself working with poorly scheduled routes, your best choice is to communicate. State everything that’s been bothering you. If you are having a problem keeping up with your weekly and monthly tasks, it’s in everybody’s best interest to help you. Talk to your dispatcher and talk to your employer. See if they are able to listen to what you have to say. See if their response is positive. Perhaps, there’s something that you can do better to keep up with the schedule that’s been given to you. But maybe the company should create a better working plan for you.
After you’ve made your case with the company, and if they were responsive, wait to see their reaction. If everything is resolved after your communication, you are free to drive and improve. Sadly, there are companies that don’t care about the drivers as much as they should. Companies like that will often promise changes, but keep things the same way. In that case, the only solution is to find a better workplace.
Luckily, honest companies that form good relationships with their drivers are out there. You’ll find a place for yourself in no time.
#2 Irregular Pay (problem)
This problem stems from what was described above – irregular route schedules. If the routes aren’t planned well you stand to lose your efficiency. Also, “empty” miles can cause fewer earnings after your route. Waiting to get loaded and unloaded can be pretty time-consuming. If you spend a lot of time at the dock, waiting to load or unload, that’s less time on the road. Less time means less miles behind you And that means less earnings. Furthermore, bad traffic, weather, and other irregular events can make unwanted delays on your route. These events can cause you to earn fewer miles for a given time, and consequently, less money.
Not having steady pay is one of the biggest factors of stress for any worker. So this problem definitely needs to be addressed, analyzed, and solved. Luckily for all the truckers out there, it’s possible to solve it.
Irregular Pay (solution)
If you have a good working schedule and quality dispatch, this problem is 90% solved already. But there are a couple of more things to understand. If you figure out the following things, you’re going to be in a much better position when choosing companies.
When searching for companies, always give an advantage to companies that pay empty and loaded miles the same. That means that if your route plan leaves you driving without the cargo, you’ll still be compensated. That’s a big positive factor that will make your earnings steady and your driving stress-free.
Quality dispatch will also increase your efficiency and prevent any unwanted situations. By staying in constant contact with your dispatcher, you’ll avoid situations such as driving through bad traffic and weather conditions. Always try to arrange smooth, fast, and stress-free routes with your dispatcher.
Keep in mind that companies that offer drop and hook freight should be on your primary list. These jobs are much faster. That’s because there’s no procedure involved when taking and dropping off your cargo. Instead of waiting to take over the cargo, you have more time to earn those valuable miles and increase your fees.
#3 Regulations (problem)
This is a big obstacle for both drivers and company owners. Trucking is a heavily regulated industry. And rightfully so. The machines have to be in optimal condition, the paperwork has to be pristine, and the drivers need to be well-rested, capable, and responsible. That’s the only way to keep this huge industry running and make everyone safe. But, audits for company owners, and inspections for drivers are still a big challenge.
Every driver needs to take care of their machine. You need to make sure that your logbook is in order, and never consume any alcohol or drugs. You have to be at the highest level of responsibility if you want to succeed in this business. There is no room for error. And most respectable companies don’t want drivers with failed alcohol or drug tests. Also, if you’ve committed speed violations, or failed to pass safety inspections, you won’t find a job that easily.
One of the biggest problems for truckers generally, is just keeping up with them. You always have to be on top of your game and keep yourself informed about the newest changes in the regulations.
One of the most challenging regulations for truckers is the Compliance, Safety, and Accountability program. The well-known CSA prevents carriers from hiring drivers with a history of unsafe behavior. It works by giving out a Safety Rating to drivers. The safety rating is an assessment of a motor carrier’s compliance with the safety fitness requirements. After a rated investigation, the FMCSA may assign one of three safety ratings – Satisfactory, Conditional, or Unsatisfactory.
Another regulation to keep in mind is the Hours-of-service limit. This limit implies that a driver cannot drive for more than 14 hours in a row after reporting for duty. Also, after their working hours, there is a mandatory 10-hour break. The 14-hour working time span is not extended by extra time spent off-duty. Also, the 14-consecutive-hour span begins when truckers start any kind of task.
This limit is tightly regulated through electronic logbooks or E-LOGs. So, exceeding the limit with extra hours behind the wheel will be recorded inside the electronic logbook and cause trouble with the inspection.
Of course, there are drug and alcohol regulations. It’s important to emphasize that truckers face much heavier penalties when convicted of a DUI/DWI (driving under the influence/driving while intoxicated). Getting a DUI or a DWI penalty can end a trucker’s career. Avoiding alcohol and drugs while on duty is paramount for truck drivers.
Without going further into protocols and rules that truckers have to know and keep in mind at all times, these rules already present a big challenge for truckers. How to solve this issue?
The first step to a safe and responsible career as a truck driver is committing to your CDL training. After that, it’s all about your personal responsibility.
You can make it easy for yourself by keeping lists, using reminders on your smartphone, and marking important dates on your calendar. There’s a lot that you have to keep in mind at all times, and that’s quite stressful. But being organized will reduce that stress. And if you get used to keeping everything in check every day, it will become just another part of the job.
At the end of the day, these rules are here to keep you not only safe but also protected from mistreatment by employers. Always remember that the rules are there to protect you. And if you learn to manage everything, they will work in your favor.
Your safety score will be clean which will make you very desirable as a driver. Many companies offer appealing safety bonuses for passing the inspection and following the rules. So it’s not all about being convicted and getting some form of punishment. These rules are actually there to improve your experience on the job.
If you change your mindset like that, you’ll become more responsible and less stressed out. And the problem will become the advantage.
Like any job , truckers sometimes face problematic situations. It takes patience to understand how the trucking industry works. Solving these problems takes experience. But after you do, your trucking life will become easy and enjoyable.
But if you can learn from other truckers’ experiences, stick to these easy tips, and your career will get much easier in no time. At the end of the day, it’s all about doing the job that you love and enjoying every day on it.