On The Road

3 Lessons

About this course

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


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.


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.


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.


  • 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.


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.


  • 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!

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.


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


demanding dispatchers

driving distractions

being away from home for long periods



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
  • 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.


Start Course

Course Structure

A brief history of traffic signs

More use is being made of new technology to provide better information to drivers on hazards, delays and diversions.
The future will undoubtedly see more developments in traffic signing to keep pace with the changing traffic demands on our roads.

Prevention of bridge strikes

This guide has been produced for the benefit of the freight transport industry and construction plant hire sector and it is Network Rail’s intention to permit free copy and distribution.

No action under copyright laws will be pursued.


The information contained in this document is believed to be correct at the time of publication but regulations, standards and specifications do change.

The reader must ensure that they refer to their latest company instructions which this document does not supersede. Network Rail and the contributors to this document have used their best endeavours to ensure that the content, layout and text of this document are accurate.

Network Rail or the contributors make no warranties, express or implied, that compliance with the contents of this document are sufficient on its own to ensure safe systems of work or operation. Each user is reminded of their own responsibilities to ensure health and safety at work and their individual duties under health and safety legislation and road traffic legislation.

Network Rail and the contributors to this document will not be held responsible for any loss or damage arising from adoption or use of anything referred to or contained in this publication.

The inclusion of a process or product in this document should not be construed as an endorsement of that process or product by Network Rail.

The Hazard Perception Test

The Driving Standards Agency introduced a new element to the Theory Test at the end of 2002.

This new element is intended to improve the learner's hazard perception skills. It consists of a computer-based test of moving video clips, which involves candidates clicking whenever they spot a developing hazard.

In this section, you can read about the details of the Hazard Perception Test.

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