Published on 2018-12-18

Essentials on qualifications and safety that you need to know before you hit the road.

Being a truck driver is something that many people enjoy. It allows them to visit new places and see new things, and it means they are always (literally) on the move. This makes it exciting and no two days are ever the same.

There are some essential requirements which need to be met concerning safety and qualifications, however, before a truck driver is able to hit the open road. If you are thinking of taking up this noble profession, here is a rundown of the most critical requirements to take note of.

The Right License

Being able to drive a car (no matter how big it is!) is nothing like being able to drive a truck, and this is why different licenses are needed for each. Having a driver’s’ license does not entitle you to drive a truck for a living. You must get your own truck drivers’ license as well.

There is a lot to think about when carrying out the training and taking the test for a truck license. Firstly, the candidate needs to have 160 hours behind the wheel, and the training itself can, therefore, take a number of months. Not only is there driving to think about, but there is the theoretical side too which takes place in a classroom. There is a lot to learn, and until the driver knows everything exceptionally well, they won’t be able to take the truck out on the roads.

Remember also that it is often the truck driver’s responsibility to pay for their own training (although not in all cases since some of the larger haulage companies pay for it to ensure they have the best candidates), and it is not a cheap thing to do.

No Drinking

As might be expected, a truck driver must not have any alcoholic drink if they are going to then drive their truck. In fact, if they do have any alcohol, there must be a gap of at least eight hours between their last drink and the next time they get behind the wheel. Driving while under the influence of alcohol is extremely dangerous, and if the driver is caught, they are likely to lose their job.

To be completely sure that there is no alcohol in their system, some truck drivers purchase a breathalyzer for car use that they can keep in their trucks and test themselves to ensure that they are not a danger to anyone else on the road.

Driving Hours

There are a set number of hours that truck drivers are allowed to drive in one go before they are required to take a break. Going over these limits is dangerous not just to the driver but to everyone around them on the roads as well, and even if no one is hurt during an accident caused through tiredness, the goods within the truck might be damaged, and that could be a big problem for the companies involved.

Truck drivers:

  • Can drive for as many as 11 hours, but can only drive for 14 hours in any one duty period (this can’t be extended using rest stops for fuel or food).
  • They must take a half hour break before they reach the eight-hour mark (when they take this break is their choice).
  • They can drive a 168-hour work week but must have 34 consecutive hours off before starting the next week of work.
  • There must be at least 10 hours off between each duty period.
  • There are exceptions, including those caused by adverse weather, but they are rare.

Truck Maintenance

Truck drivers always have the final responsibility when it comes to maintaining their trucks. That could be anything from ensuring that it looks good (and enhances the company’s reputation) and therefore keeping it clean and tidy, from doing mechanical work on the engine if there is a problem.

Drivers will also need to make sure that their lighting is good, and they can add light bars for trucks for added safety. They must check the oil and water levels, and generally maintain the upkeep of their vehicle all the time they are using it.

Cell Phones

Another requirement for a truck driver is that they must never use their cell phone behind the wheel. It is illegal and extremely unsafe; as many as 21% of all vehicle accidents in the United States stem from one of the drivers using a cell phone while driving. Although currently hands-free devices are allowed in trucks, there are calls for these to be banned as well because they still cause distractions.

Alec Neufeld is a retired builder, now freelance writer and part-time general fix it man. He has strong opinions on the use of alternate energy and is also an avid sports enthusiast.