The road is long. The trees that flank both sides of the road aren’t holding all that much interest for the child in the back seat. The parents bicker in the front seat, the mother saying, “Just ask for directions, Howard! I don’t understand!” And the father announcing, “I know how to get there Nancy, honest!”
Regardless, the little one in the back is bored out of their wits when suddenly, the kid hears a certain rumbling from somewhere behind them. The child whips around in their seat and there, in the distance, is a massive semi-truck, its brightly colored hood glistening in the bright sun of the day.
The child’s excitement eviscerates the boredom of the earlier hour and even drowns out the argument the parents are having. All this kid sees is the truck. The kid waits in anticipation, and as the rumbling monster makes its way closer, the kid sticks his or her head out the window and gives the driver the old salute, the arm gesture signaling a horn pull. The seconds seem like hours for the child; will he pull the horn or not? The kid asks him or herself. And finally, the booming sound comes, and it even startles the kid's parents.
Yeah, truck drivers are cool and the rigs they drive impressed us, even as children. But the men and women that make big rigs their everyday job actually have a lot of rules and regulations to follow. Today, in this article, we’ll be taking a look at them in detail. So, climb aboard and get ready to rumble on down that road, folks.
20 THE BASIC RULES OF THE ROAD
There are in fact a lot of rules that big rig drivers have to follow when they're out there, and of course, we'll be getting into them in this article. But perhaps the most important rules are those that all drivers must learn and abide by as motorists. It's true; truck drivers need to respect the same rules that all of us do when we're out there swerving, changing lanes, and revving it up on our way from destination to destination. Even before they embark on their training to becoming truck drivers, they need to have a driver's permit, and a standard one at that. There are indeed a few more things that need to be covered on the way to becoming a truck driver and we'll get into them in a bit, but this is standard rule numero uno.
19 KNOW YOUR REGIONAL LAWS
Interestingly enough, the rules and regulations that truck drivers need to follow actually change from region to region. The ones we've listed in this article are pretty much standard almost anywhere you go, but were sourced primarily from US laws (and some from Canada). But as a truck driver, either in training or at the novice level, it's your responsibility to check the laws and bylaws about the state, province, or region you'll be driving from or in. The rules from one county to another can be very different and you've gotta know them all if you'll be passing through. Understanding the rules that keep drivers safe goes both for the big rig drivers themselves and the motorists around them.
18 INTENSIVE TRAINING
So, let's say you get inspired to climb aboard one of these magnificent machines and learn a new and interesting trade or profession. As we've already stated, a regular driver's license is step one. Step two is a tad more difficult, as these massive machines are nothing like the Kia you drive around town running errands. These are massive monsters that are actually very difficult to maneuver and the training it takes to learn this trade isn't as easy as one would think. Au contraire, folks! The intensive training for this requires a lot of studying and when all the studying is out of the way, a practical understanding of these trucks and the way they are to be driven is an undertaking all its own.
17 PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS
Perhaps we can blame Hollywood and the plethora of depictions they've shown us of truck drivers on screen for this one, but truck drivers cannot be out of shape. No way on that one. In fact, this is a pretty harsh rule and one that many governments are pretty strict on. If a driver tends to be n the heftier side, he or she is required to undergo a physical every three to five years or so, and if there are any physical effects because of his or her size, then their trucker's license can, in fact, be taken away. Most municipal laws are pretty strict on this count and should be respected as such. We can't all be as ripped as Stallone was in Over The Top, in which he played a trucker, but health and fitness should actually be a concern for these men and women, after all.
16 SECURING CARGO
The driving isn't the only thing these men and women need to be good at, or rather, expert at. As it turns out, these trucks are so big and powerful for a reason, after all. They aren't that big and impressive just for nothing. In the end, they haul. That's what they were built for and they haul quite well, and sometimes lots and lots of weight. But the securing of these charges is something that the drivers have to make certain of, especially with flatbed and open concept trailers. Before they take off, they must make sure that their cargo is well in place and there is no danger of the cargo moving around and being a danger to anyone on the road. They might not be responsible for loading the cargo, but guaranteeing that everything is secure is just a good thing to do.
The open road can be a pretty stressful place. A lot can happen out there and at the end of the day, there are a lot of different people and temperaments to contend with on a daily basis. You've got your hotheads, your raging drivers, your slow-as-molasses drivers, and the incredible amount of construction sites you can come across every day. There is one thing and one thing only that can prepare you for all of this and is a rule of thumb for real drivers out there. They call it patience. Patience will go a long way out there and if you've seen a truck driver without it, he or she isn't following one of the most important rules out there.
14 RULES AND REGULATIONS ABOUT SLEEP
We all need our sleep. And if we listen to those doctors on TV, we need about eight hours a night to be considered tip-top and ready to face the day ahead. But there are many out there that are okay with just a mere five a night. For regular people out there, and by regular, we mean those of us that don't drive big rigs, we don't really have to regulate our sleep in order to keep our jobs. But for these men and women that do operate heavy machinery like these awesome big rigs, they have to make sure that they sleep enough out there. And yes, that means they have to stop at truck stops, like the one pictured here. They even have to keep a log and can be asked to show it to their dispatchers or even the authorities at roadblocks at any given moment. A common ratio is 11 hours on to 10 hours off, and that is plain R and R.
13 BE ON TIME
The tick-tock of the clock can definitely inspire some of our most stressful moments. And that pretty much goes for absolutely any profession. But, perhaps, truckers that are out there every day are the ones most required to meet certain delivery deadlines, and at the same time, these deadlines aren't always realistic ones. They are fueled with the need to make it to certain destinations by a certain hour or date, yet they are bound by many rules and regulations. It can make for a pretty stressful period of time, but finding a balance is definitely key to making it all work out in the end.
Perhaps the rule that is most difficult to adhere to while out there and trying to meet deadlines is the oldest rule on the old road: don't break the speed limit. It's easier said than done. These men and women get pressure from both ends. They could be making a pick-up, hearing their dispatchers say: "And don't be late. The client wants that merchandise by 10 AM tomorrow." And then when they make a delivery, we're all sure they hear enough of this golden standard: "You're late!" Really, it must seem like they can't do anything right and they're definitely pulled in a million directions at once—but at the end of the day, they need to push all of that aside and stay within the limits.
11 ROAD GAMES
Staying awake is probably very hard for these men and women. They do work long hours and driving can, at times, get pretty boring. Especially when there's nothing to see out there but farm houses and rows and rows of trees. So, when the caffeine in your coffee and the taurine in your energy drinks aren't really working, there are always road games to keep you busy. In fact, these road games are so commonly used by truck drivers, it's actually a rule of thumb that most of them play a few on long hauls. One, in particular, is passing. You pick a vehicle and pass it, then carefully get into its lane, then slow down. You wait for the vehicle to pass you, then start all over again, doing this for as long as possible, all the while hoping the driver in the car plays along and doesn't get too frustrated.
10 HAZARDOUS MATERIALS
The materials transported by big rig truck drivers are quite numerous. There are a plethora of items that trucks haul around on the open road. But perhaps the most dangerous of materials is in their description. Hazardous materials are present in everyday life and somebody needs to be charged with their removal. As they say, "Taking out the trash is a tough job, but somebody's got to do it." As it turns out, big rig truck drivers are the ones that are charged with such a responsibility and enough incidents have occurred over time to make society establish some rules about the handling of such materials and common practices to adhere to.
9 WATCH OUT FOR HITCHHIKERS
Of course, this isn't a written rule—at least, not for everyone—but there may be certain transport companies that actually restrain their drivers from picking up hitchhikers along the way. In this day and age, picking up a hitchhiker can be quite dangerous. And if the transport companies aren't implementing this rule or forcing it on its drivers, then it's the drivers themselves that need to take the appropriate care out there, and staying away from picking up hitchhikers is just good sense. You never know what their intentions can actually be. For every honest one out there, there can be nine that have bad intentions. It can get lonely out there but that is precisely why country music was invented.
8 REQUIREMENTS TO GET LICENSED
Getting a license isn't as easy as many would think it would be, though. It takes a lot and there are certain rules and procedures that need to be respected and abide by. First and foremost, as we mentioned earlier, a normal driver's license is required. After that basic rule, one must have a clean driver's record, as well as a clean record altogether, although there are some companies that overlook that. The person getting the trucker's license must be over the age of twenty-one, and of course, those applying must pass the required examinations sanctioned by the governing body for the CDL (Commercial Driver's License), in whatever municipality. Meeting all these requirements and a physical will get anyone on their way to becoming a truck driver.
7 WEIGHT LIMITS
There are limitations to absolutely everything. And although these trucks are massive and powerful and can probably take on charges that they are allotted, there is a legal weight limit for many areas around the US and Canada, and the world, as well. The maximum amount of weight allowed is actually different from place to place and there are weighing stations along the road for many of these trucks. Such weighing stations can be for financial reasons, stating just how much to charge a client, as weight plays a factor, but the ramifications are also quite obvious if one goes over the allotted weight. These allocations are to be respected.
6 POSSESSION OF AN ELECTRONIC LOGGING DEVICE
Earlier, we mentioned that drivers need to have a certain amount of time off on their schedule. And that would mean both sufficient amounts of time dedicated to sleep and, of course, certain amounts of time dedicated to basic R and R. But what a lot of people don't know is that there is an easy way to make sure that these men and women are getting their rest. And it's a better way than there used to be, which was a simple log where a lot of drivers lied anyway. In fact, the electronic logging device has now become mandatory for drivers to have in certain areas, and it truly is the best way to guarantee safety out there. Not all regions have implemented this, but soon, they should pretty much be all over the place, and thankfully so. Interestingly enough, these gadgets are actually connected right to the engine, giving extremely precise readings.
5 STAY ON THE STRAIGHT AND NARROW
This can't be unsaid. These days, enjoying life seems to be everyone's major concern and on one hand, that's a great thing. After all, it all passes in the blink of an eye, as they say. But perhaps there are those that enjoy life a little too much and it can definitely be a tad much. The expression about burning the candle on both ends certainly comes to mind. Some truck drivers work hard and they play hard, as well, if not more. That, of course, depends on the driver. But a rule implemented by many of these drivers and the transport companies that employ them is, simply put, stay on the straight and narrow, especially when out there making deliveries and pickups.
4 WATCH OTHER VEHICLES CLOSELY
An interesting rule—and one that you wouldn't think was important—is that these drivers need to keep an eye out for other drivers. Now, this doesn't mean that they have to make sure that they are safe in what they themselves do, but they actually have to make sure that others are safe as, well. We're sure that you or someone you know may have been the recipient of a harsh blaring of the horn should you have cut one of these trucks off. We can certainly label them the keepers of the road, as these "road dogs" certainly don't mind keeping everyone else in line as they glide through traffic. They need to stay alert and if they honk their horns at you, chances are, you've done something wrong—or three times out of five, at least.
3 DON'T BE A BULLY
By the same token, however, there are those that abuse the power or responsibility they've been given. This goes for any profession, actually. It's an unfortunate occurrence, but it does happen often enough to be considered a problem. But these men and women that are given the ability to work as drivers for either themselves or for a transport company need to check their egos at the door, way before they climb up into their cabins. They need to realize that they will be driving the biggest vehicles on the road and with such responsibility must come also a sense of humility and they can't just be thinking about their own deadlines. So yeah, at the end of the day, they can't be bullies.
2 DON'T GET OUT!
This is probably one of the strangest rules that these men and women must follow, but according to the insurance that covers them and their companies, they are required to stay put and not exit their vehicle in the case of an incident out there on the road. It's true. They cannot descend from the cabin in such times, but are to radio in and wait for authorities to arrive on the scene, and sometimes, even in serious situations that are a tad more gnarly than a fender bender. In movies, when you see the drivers come down, it isn't really realistic. Of course, this isn't the case in all regions but enough do have this rule in place.
1 TAKE PROPER PRECAUTIONS IN CERTAIN WEATHER CONDITIONS
Now, this rule goes for many of the truck drivers that work in Canada and the northern United States of course, because we've got that powdery substance that visits for about four months every year. What's it called? Oh yeah, snow. Certain parts of Canada and the States sure got hit with a lot of it this year and boy, did the truck drivers in the area have a lot to contend with. And they did well because the level of incidents was quite low, and that is owed all to the standards and practices these men and women are made to follow in serious weather conditions. Specific rules to watch out for are: distances between your rig and the vehicle in front of you, tire inspection before setting out, and being a stickler for all other rules and regulations, as everything is made that much worse in the cold weather.
Sources: Wikipedia, Rothlawyer, and CA DOT.