Truck drivers are given the large responsibility of transporting various materials from one point to another such as cars, store merchandise, and machinery. Before a driver takes his or her vehicle out on the road, one of the first tasks that has to be done is a careful vehicle inspection. The driver must check some of the following items: fluid levels, proper safety equipment is on board, tire pressure, functioning of the brakes, lights, windshield wipers and turn signals. The driver also has to make sure that the car go on the back of the bed is properly loaded and secured before taking it out on the road. The vehicle’s side mirrors have to be adjusted so that blind spots and to ensure that the driver has proper visibility.
Truck Driver Job Responsibilities
Drivers, as required by the United States Department of Transportation, have to keep a running log that records their daily work tasks, any accidents that he or
she is involved in and the basic condition of the vehicle. The driver has to be familiar with use of technology, be able to drive long distances and for extended periods of time along with having the ability to aid in the loading and unloading of cargo that he or she will transport. Drivers work with different sizes and types of trucks, depending upon their job description. Those driving delivery trucks work with a vehicle that is primarily used for local pickup and delivery of various packages and products. This individual will usually handle the loading and unloading of the items and obtaining signatures upon delivery. Some using a truck of this type may also sell the products that they are transporting. When a driver has returned the vehicle to the company, they are responsible to turn in any problems or repairs that need to be addressed. Drivers can either be self-employed or work for a company.
Truck Driver Training and Education Requirements
Many companies will offer their own driver training program while some institutions will offer a public based driver training to their campus. These are often found at vocational and/or technical schools, where the driver will learn various skills such as the federal and state regulations, maneuvering of the vehicle and related tasks. The classes will also involve actual hands on experience driving a vehicle and practicing turning, backing up and parking. Other training that can be beneficial to a perspective driver is taking classes in mechanics and driving courses during the high school years. Some states require that a driver attend an approved training program before he or she passes for a CDL license. Drivers have to be a minimum of 21 years old in order to drive a truck across state lines.
Truck Driver Salary and Wages
The salary for a truck driver can vary according to the amount of hours driven a week, length of time on the road and mileage driven. Jobs that feature flexible hours and the best pay can be the most competitive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that employment of these individuals will rise by 9% by 2018. The projected number of new truck driving jobs will be created in the next decade is approximately 291,900. For those driving tractor-trailers, the average rise in employment over the next decade is expected to be 13%. The average hourly pay for a tractor-trailer driver is in the range of $14.21 to $22.56. The lowest paid found the $11.63 with the highest being at or above $27.07. Those driving long miles over the road are usually paid by the mile, while local delivery drivers are paid by the hour.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Truck Driver Certifications
Drivers who plan to drive vehicles that are able to transport 26,000 pounds or a heavier load of cargo, such as in a tractor-trailer, are required to obtain a CDL, or Commercial Driver’s License. This license is issued by the state in which the driver works and requires that he or she has both a written and performance test. The written test encompasses times of the road, driving laws and other federal and state regulations. The performance test requires the driver perform a thorough check of the vehicle in the presence of the test administrator and go for a drive that involves certain maneuvers and recognition of signs. If the driver will be transporting hazardous materials, they are required to have their fingerprints taken and a criminal check of their background will be done. These are sent to the Transportation Security Association.
Truck Driver Professional Associations
Many truck drivers can join a number of professional organizations and unions. One union that has a large number of truck drivers in its membership is the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The union helps drivers to obtain higher pay, better benefits and to ensure a good working environment. The union will often deal for the drivers in salary negotiations with a company. The Professional Truck Driver Institute, located in Alexandria, Virginia provides training for new drivers and membership for those already in the field along with continuing education opportunities.