Long haul truckers have the gruelling task of driving trucks full for thousands of miles. They can be on the road for days, weeks, or even months at a time, often keeping them away from their families and home. Needless to stay, living on the open road brings its own challenges as well as culture.
There are many things the public doesn’t realize about long haul truckers and some so-called secrets we doubt these drivers want turning into common knowledge. In this article, we take a deep look into the lives of long-haul truckers and the facets of their work that they’d rather keep on the down low.
From the dangerous way they prepare food while driving to discrepancies in wages and dangerous working hours, we bet you’ll be both surprised and dumbfounded once you get to the end of this list. Here’s what you need to know.
There often isn’t time for truckers to stop and grab a snack every time their stomach growls. Given their long hours though, they have to find a way to eat somehow. Some truckers have admitted to cooking while on the job – or should we say, on the road.
“When I was with my driving trainer, he had a Foreman grill,” Keith (who only gave his first name) told Mental Floss. “I’d be driving and he’d hand me a plate of food. When I got my own truck, I got a Crock Pot and kept it on the floor.”
Long-haul truckers will carry a wide variety of products in their vehicle, such as food and beverages. It isn’t unusual for them to take a sample of whatever they’re transporting. Sometimes, the client will even offer them a sample.
“Some of the bigger ice cream or candy companies, when you pick up or drop off a shipment, someone might give you a sample,” Keith told Mental Floss. “Ben & Jerry’s, for example, gave me a pint of ice cream. I had a freezer on board, thankfully.”
That’s right, there are online dating sites specifically for truck drivers. These are designed to help drivers meet individuals who are aware and okay with the demands of their lifestyle. Otherwise, maintaining a traditional relationship can be a challenge for truckers considering their work schedule.
“One of these sites, Trucker Passions, a specific site off of the larger Passion’s Network, has been making romantic matches for truck drivers since 2004. Passion’s Network has boasted over 3.5 million member profiles in the decade since they’ve begun,” according to All Truck Jobs.
To ensure their employees are keeping up with code, many trucking companies install cameras in the trucks to (literally) keep an eye on drivers.
“We have a camera on the dash,” senior truck driver Jim Simpson told Mental Floss. “One lens points out, and one points to the cab. If I hit a bump or anything that seems like it could be an accident, it snaps on for 30 seconds and sends footage to the company.”
‘Lot Lizards’ are the unfortunate names truckers have given streetwalkers who hang out at depots and truck stops in order to service drivers.
"The dude I was driving with – he and I were, well, you know – and there was a knock on the door,” trucker Mallory Spine told Cracked. “Turned out to be a prostitute who wanted to know if we wanted extra company." Mallory added it’s also common to stumble across dealers in these situations, too.
Especially given that trucks are often equipped with security cameras, there’s a high chance a trucker can get fired for picking up a hitchhiker. So, even though it may be tempting to have a buddy along for the ride, most drivers won’t risk their job.
“You can't trust people like that anymore, and most companies prohibit it now anyway. So, you can't really pick them up anywhere, but most of us wish we could,” Aquilla told Travel Channel.
Truck drivers basically live out of a suitcase while they’re on the road but having access to a shower or clean amenities isn’t always so simple. In fact, there are times when the workplace conditions of drivers seems downright unacceptable.
“[There are] awful working conditions some UK drivers accept: horrible food, lack of parking, filthy toilets and showers, hanging around unpaid while waiting to load and unload,” The Guardian explains.
It’s easy to give into temptation when you’re all by yourself. Many truckers or partners of truckers have reported that many drivers don’t stay faithful while on the road.
Life As A Trucker features a variety of anonymous posts from truck drivers who want to share about their romantic rendezvouses while on the road.
Surprisingly, many truckers have the Uber app downloaded on their phone. If they’re running ahead of schedule, they might stop to visit a tourist attraction along their route. Since they can’t easily park or drive their trucks on narrow roads, truckers will sometimes call a ride-share. “When that happens, we might park a quarter-mile away and then call an Uber if it’s an urban area,” Simpson told Mental Floss. “That happens all the time.”
Truckers often spend their nights in roadside hotels, but some drivers say they spend more time inside hotels than behind the wheel.
“Been on my own on the road for 2 weeks,” one driver anonymously shared on Whisper. “I’ve spent more time in hotels than I have driving. I think I’m with the wrong company.”
Driving alone can get, well, lonely. We guess that’s why it’s not so unheard of for some truckers to invite their spouses or significant others along for the ride.
“One time I was traveling with my girlfriend and we were walking through a parking lot and a husband-wife team asked us if we'd like to ‘join them’ in their truck for the night,” Aquilla told Travel Channel. “I deferred to my girlfriend, who politely declined, and we had a great laugh about that."
Although laws differ depending on where you are, for the most part, it’s pretty easy to get a trucking license. Oftentimes, you just need to complete a course that takes a few weeks and you’re on the road.
"Most people are fresh out of those diploma mills known as truck driving school," Mallory told Cracked. "It usually takes about three weeks to complete."
In most jobs, senior employees tend to earn more as a reflection of the time they’ve put into the position. This is true for trucking, too.
New, inexperienced drivers often make way less than their more experienced counterparts, which is a way for trucking companies to reduce costs. "There's never a shortage of new, naive drivers willing to work for practically nothing, keeping wages for experienced drivers deflated,” Mallory told Cracked.
Truck driving is no joke. The job is actually pretty risky, given how much time drivers spend on the road dealing with sleep deprivation on top of poor weather conditions.
“Truck driving has been in the top 10 of the most dangerous jobs throughout America consecutively for more than 20 years. Forbes listed truck driving at number 8,” Semi Truck Driving explains.
Given their long hours on the road – especially with the risk of overtime – it’s no surprise truck drivers often feel sleep deprived. They have to rely on other methods to stay awake.
“Drink a ton of coffee or energy drinks, roll down the window in the winter to make it freezing cold in there, blast the radio and sing at the top of your lungs or slap yourself repeatedly in the face,” trucker Brett Aquilla told Travel Channel.
Truckers don’t often stay in the business for very long. According to Mental Floss, the American Trucking Association claimed the turnover rate is currently 88%.
“A lot of people get into trucking because they see it as a way of making decent coin and they’re preyed upon by companies who just churn them out,” Simpson told the publication.
In order to make the hours pass by more quickly or to help them stay awake, it’s not unheard of for drivers to experiment with substances while behind the wheel, which is a scary thought. Even worse, some of the trucking companies even encourage their employees to partake if it increases their efficiency.
"One company I worked for used to hand out uppers to their solo drivers along with their paycheck," Mallory told Cracked. "I can remember being so damn tired and hopped up on ephedrine that the center line would sprout wings and fly away as I drove past."
Needless to say, truckers spend a lot of time on the open road. As a result, they often have wild stories of some of the things they’ve seen during their travels. This can include everything from natural disasters to multiple car accidents.
“I've seen gigantic wrecks -- trucks barrel-rolling in front of me, a truck on fire under a bridge with flames engulfing the entire truck and bridge,” Aquilla told Travel Channel. “I've driven through the edge of a forest fire that covered thousands of acres with small flames on either side of the Interstate. Very creepy.”
Being a trucker means spending long periods of time away from your home, including your loved ones. Not everyone feels that the paycheck is worth the sacrifices.
“Been a truck driver for the last 6 years to help improve my families [sic] lifestyle,” one person anonymously wrote on Whisper. “Now I seem to be out of style in most of their lives. Maybe staying home being broke was a better plan.”
The number one person truck drivers spend time with is, well, themselves. They have to get used to their own silence, which oftentimes gets pretty lonely.
“This is the day in and day out of trucking. Alone the majority of the time, with mostly only yourself to rely on,” Semi Truck Driver writes. “Once or twice a day you may speak with your dispatcher, maybe a couple of your friends on the phone. Other than this, you have to entertain yourself.
Sources: Travel Channel, Cracked