On The Road

Physical Requirements – At least 20/40 vision with glasses or corrective lenses is required for a truck driving career. You must have a vision of a 70-degree field in each eye and good hearing ability to work as a truck driver. Must be able to pass the medical required by regulations.

License – To become a truck driver, you will need a Commercial Driver’s License

MAIN SKILLS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

One of the most essential skills in a truck driver job description is the ability to plan.

Truckers should take dispatched instructions and review them for accuracy, prior to leaving on a trip. Take a look at the trip orders and do some planning for rest and fuel stops.

Familiarize yourself with the area you’ll be traveling to avoid dangerous situations.

Check the weather. Manage your time wisely. Take the time necessary to plan your trip, to avoid problems.

With all of the electronic devices available for truckers, such as a GPS, cell phones, laptop computers, scanners, routing software etc., truck drivers really have no excuse for not being able to implement a good solid trip plan.  Of course, there’s always a good old-fashioned atlas, for those who choose not to invest in the various electronic toys available.

  1. MONEY MANAGEMENT

It’s not an essential skill required on an official truck driver job description, but it can mean the difference of making it or not in a truck driving career.

With the profit margin for owner-operators and company drivers being so tight these days, it’s more important than ever for truck drivers to manage their income wisely.

The cost of food on the road is a major expense. It’s easy to spend lots of money on food. Setting a daily food budget certainly helps control this essential expense.

  1. KNOWLEDGE OF RULES AND REGULATIONS

Part of truck driving training involves studying the rules that control the trucking industry. The industry is not very forgiving of ignorance. DOT hours of service rules must be followed at all times.

Knowledge of loading and unloading procedures, weight restrictions, scaling methods, and trailer axle weight adjustments, are essential skills.

  • Before hitting the highway, there’s work to be done by the truck driver. A careful inspection of the truck and trailer is essential for safety and it’s THE LAW. Proper functioning of brakes, lights, etc, enough fluid levels, correct tire pressure and much more.
  • Pre-trip and post-trip inspections require the driver to note any problems with the equipment and any problems brought to the company’s attention.
  • Owner-operators must schedule their repairs during their time off and of course, at their own expense.

5. RECORD KEEPING

  • Paper logbook records or electronic logs are maintained by the truck driver.
  • If the driver is required to keep paper logbooks, they must be started before leaving for a trip and maintained periodically throughout the journey.
  • Drivers of semi-trucks must keep in contact with their employers for pick-up, delivery and any changes to plans, as they occur. Due to new legislation, cell phone laws are changing, and drivers will be forbidden to use any hand-held devices while driving. This will mean that truckers will need to make additional stops periodically to call their dispatch.
  • The driver must pick-up and carry records of the goods being transported, in the event of a D.O.T. roadside inspection and when crossing international borders.
  • Especially for the owner-operator, retaining receipts and accurate records are very important. Income tax returns depend on sound record keeping. Truckers can claim various expenses on their tax returns but need proper records for back-up.

6. SECURING THE LOAD

A truck driver job description will vary, according to the type of freight being hauled.

  • Flatbed work requires securing the load with straps and tarps.
  • Producerequires the driver to supervise loading to ensure proper patterning of skids and then securing the load with load locks as needed.
  • General freight also requires careful supervision of loading the product and often load locked or secured as needed.
  • Preloaded Trailers –Some drivers have the luxury of picking up a loaded trailer and dropping it at a destination, without any involvement whatsoever in the loading procedure.

7. UNLOADING FREIGHT

  • When the truck driver arrives at his destination, he submits his cargo documents to the receiver. A driver shouldn’t be required to unload his cargo. A truck driver job description usually doesn’t dictate that a driver unloads his freight.
  • However, in the real world, this doesn’t always happen. ‘Lumpers’ will break down cargo that is ‘unsuitable’ for unionized dock workers for a fee. It’s often that an owner-operator can get stuck with the cost of a lumper, to expedite the unloading process, and then chase the trucking company he is leased on to, for reimbursement.  Sometimes, the trucking company has an account set up with the lumper for service and the owner-operator isn’t required to pay out money out of his pocket.
  • For a company driver, the carrier may already have arrangements for lumpers and the unload doesn’t affect the driver in any way.
  • Sometimes trucking companies will ask the driver to ‘assist’ or unload the freight and pay him to do so. Sometimes, the unfortunate driver is asked to unload the entire truck without any help and any pay. This is, of course, is the worst-case scenario. It shouldn’t happen but be warned that is DOES happen.
  • At the receiver, the driver has the customer sign for receipt of the delivered goods and that the goods have been received intact without damage. If the freight is damaged in any way, the trucker needs to contact his dispatch promptly for instruction.
  • Whether a company driver or an owner-operator, ensure the notes written on the documents are accurate, before signing!
  1. PATIENCE

A truck driver job description wouldn’t be complete without mentioning ‘patience’.

Heavy traffic, waiting at loading docks, rude and careless 4-wheelers, ignorant dispatchers. These are just a few of the situations and people that a trucker will encounter regularly. These people and situations will challenge the patience of the best of drivers, but patience and tolerance are a must.

It’s imperative to handle dispatchers, loading dock workers, DOT officers, police and others in the industry as the professional driver that you are, even when sometimes they don’t deserve your patience and respect.

  1. HANDLING STRESS

Driving a big rig can be a stressful job, even at it’s best.

The endless number of rules and regulations to follow

traffic volume and congestion

tight manoeuvring

poor weather conditions

long hours of work

health issues develop from difficult working conditions

tiredness

demanding dispatchers

driving distractions

being away from home for long periods

loneliness

 

Driving a big rig can be a stressful job, even at it’s best.

  • an endless number of rules and regulations to follow
  • traffic volume and congestion
  • tight maneuvering
  • poor weather conditions
  • long hours of work
  • health issues develop from difficult working conditions
  • tiredness
  • demanding dispatchers
  • driving distractions
  • being away from home for long periods
  • loneliness
10. SAFETY IS ALWAYS
  • A truck driver job description that is complete and honest, will dictate that whenever in doubt, the driver chooses safety above all else.
  • There are lots of dangers involved when behind the wheel of a 44 ton of a truck, trailer, and load, on a congested highway at any speed or in any weather conditions.
  • Know your truck. Be sure it’s mechanically sound.
  • Do proper inspections.
  • Get proper rest.
  • Drive defensively.
  • Be a professional.
  • The best drivers know that safety ALWAYS comes first.

 

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Fit to Drive

Driving demands your constant attention, good judgment, the ability to maintain your health, and have a positive attitude.

Some personal health conditions (e.g., poor vision, heart problems, diabetes) may affect your driving. You should discuss your condition with a physician and follow their advice when you get behind the wheel.

Whether you are calm, nervous or hot-tempered, your personality affects the way you drive. As a result of your mood, you may also take more driving risks than you normally would when you're calm, relaxed, and alert.

Any changes in your health and the ability to drive should be reported to the DVLA because the state of our health can have a huge impact on road safety, affecting reaction times and judgment.

As far as the law is concerned, everyone has a legal duty to ensure they are fit to drive and to notify the DVLA of the onset or worsening of any condition that could affect this. Failing to do so can net you a £1,000 fine (or worse if you cause an accident as a result of that failure). 

On the DVLA website, you’ll find a full list of illnesses and conditions, ranging from cancer to diabetes, which requires direct notification. A doctor will only alert the DVLA about your health if they think you may be a serious risk, so most drivers must take responsibility for themselves.

Make sure you’re up to date with your eye tests and consider issues such as general mobility – you need to be able to turn your head to look behind, and need to have good movement in your lower limbs so that you can brake quickly. If any of this is compromised, you may not be fit to drive.

a study by the insurer Confused.com, in partnership with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, found that one in seven motorists who had taken cold or flu medication containing codeine had suffered side-effects at the wheel.

A lot of drivers are unfit to drive from the beginning—sometimes they're fatigued, sometimes they fall asleep as they drive in the middle of the night, sometimes they're worried, stressed or inattentive or distracted.

Apart from the driver's state of mind, other factors, such as their health, what road they are driving on, the weather conditions and what time of the day it is, influence driving and increase the risk of crashes.

Those with a serious weight problem can also present a risk to themselves and other road users. One side effect of obesity is sleep apnoea [a disorder that disrupts sleep] even though a person may not even realise they have it, explains Paul Reddy, a specialist motoring lawyer with Slater & Gordon. “Sufferers can feel extremely tired during the day, which is a risk to driving.”

Don't endanger yourself and others on the road with driving under the influence.  According to NHTSA statistics most car collisions, injuries, and deaths occur due to drunk driving.

In Europe, more than 25,000 people lose their lives on the road every year, while another 135,000 are seriously injured. The main culprits are speed, alcohol or drug driving, non-use of seat belts, distraction, and fatigue. 

Approximately, 25% of all road deaths in Europe are alcohol-related. As alcohol concentration in the drivers' blood increases, the crash rate does too.

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Healthy Living

The actual definition of Healthy Living is the steps, actions, and strategies one puts in place to achieve optimum health. Healthy Living is about taking responsibility and making smart health choices for today and for the future.

You spend most of your time out on the road and at the mercy of motorway restaurants, fast food outlets, and lay-by burger vans to feed you.  On many occasions, eating out of boredom waiting for your vehicle to be loaded or tipped at the loading bay offers very little healthy options via vending machines, only offering sugary drinks and snacks within the drivers waiting area. 

If you are truly spending a lot of time in your vehicle during the day, then chances are you're not going to be as physically active that day and this also means if you aren't burning up lots of calories doing what you normally do, you may need to take in fewer fuel calories as well.  Prevent the tedium routine and keep yourself entertained with other non-caloric options during this period.

 

Is it possible to stick to your diet -- or at least avoid gaining weight?

Fast food is easy and convenient and sometimes it can even be rather tasty.  They may be tasty, but so-called ultra-processed foods are not what the doctor ordered. Yet, these foods — which are high in salt, sugar and other additives — are an increasingly large part of people's diets.  However, it is junk for your body and has no place in a healthy lifestyle. 

High sodium and hormone-rich processed meats loaded with nitrates, trans-fat rubbish that can easily develop into an addiction. It may sound like a conspiracy theory, but the science indicates that a person’s brain can become addicted to the sugar, sodium, and trans-fat content in fast food.

Britain has the highest rates of obesity in Western Europe, with rates rising even faster than those in the United States.

Studies have found that obesity causes 13 types of cancer and appears to also make some types of disease more aggressive.

Getting enough sleep is not only helpful in combatting stress and fatigue, but it is also essential to maintaining a proper weight and the ability to focus and concentrate to prevent roadside hazards and accidents. Without enough sleep, your body simply does not work right.

“Get toned in the gym;

Lose weight in the kitchen”.

 

The following lessons will guide you in the choice of food options available, no one size fits all and it dependable on a few criteria.

Mindset: do not consider this to be a diet, it is a long-term change that will keep your health and prevent future illness and disability that could shorten your professional driving career.

Small changes could make a big difference.

One step at a time.

Paying attention to the food you are eating and making the most out of it- it helps us connect the simple act of eating to our emotions, thoughts and body cues.

Learn about the various nutrition options available and take control of your weight and health.

Within the Health & Nutrition course, understand the concept of high carbohydrates and low carbohydrates dietary options.

There are many dietary combinations and fads, learn the science behind each one and decide which one is the best long-term option to suit your work schedule and palate.

Nutrition is the study of food, how the body uses nutrients in each meal, and the overall relationship between diet, health, and disease.

A nutrient is a source of food, a component of nourishment, for instance, protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamin, mineral, fibre, and water.

Similarly, nutrition involves identifying how certain diseases and conditions may be caused by dietary factors, such as poor diet (malnutrition), food allergies, and food intolerances and excessive high-density food (calories) intake (obesity).

Therefore, nutrition focuses on how diseases, conditions, and how problems can be prevented or reduced with a healthy meal.

5 Lessons

Intermediate

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