Heavy Duty Trucking Firms
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Most long-haul drivers plan their own routes, keeping in mind the delivery location and deadline. They must fill out logs to show that they have complied with the rules and guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which stipulates appropriate maximum driving times and rest periods. To minimize downtime, some companies employ two drivers on long distance runs. One driver will sleep in a berth behind the cab while the other drives.
Heavy duty trucking is a physically demanding job as drivers must spend many hours at a time on the road in addition to loading and unloading cargo. Long-haul truck drivers may be away from home for days or weeks at a time, and spend a lot of time alone. They often work nights, holidays, and weekends, and face boredom, loneliness, and fatigue.
Truck drivers operating trucks with a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 or more pounds or carrying hazardous materials or oversized loads need a commercial driver's license (CDL). Drivers may train for a CDL through private and public vocational-technical schools. Some states require drivers to complete a basic training course in truck driving before receiving their CDL. Per federal regulations, employers must test drivers for alcohol and drug use prior to employment and at random intervals thereafter. Truck drivers should have good hearing, at least 20/40 vision with correction, and a 70 degree field of vision in each eye. In order to cross state borders, truck drivers must be 21 or older.
Experienced truck drivers may advance to jobs with higher earnings and preferred schedules. Some long-haul truck drivers become owner-operators by purchasing or leasing trucks to go into business for themselves, but they must have good business sense in order to avoid going out of business. Job opportunities should be favorable for long-haul truck drivers, but the earnings, work hours, and number of nights away from home may vary greatly. Please visit the American Trucking Associations website for information about truck driving career opportunities, and the Professional Truck Driver Institute site for a list of certified tractor-trailer driving courses.
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