Truck Facts: 8 Mind-Blowing Facts About the Trucking Industry (You Would Never Know!)
While many of us stay safe cooped up in our homes, thousands of essential truck drivers continue hauling building supplies, food, livestock, chemicals, and more all over the world. Large trucks are a common sight for people in well-populated areas, but you probably can’t name too many truck facts off the top of your head.
Haven’t you ever dreamt about spending days on the road and wondered what it’s like to drive an eighteen-wheeler?
Wonder no more, because it’s to reveal some of this little-known information about trucks and truck driving. Take a look at these 8 fascinating trucking industry facts.
1. There Are Special Schools for Truck Drivers
Have you ever considered how to become a truck driver? While some people don’t think too much of truckers and stereotype the job as something uneducated people do, truckers do have to go to a trade school before they can do the work.
In the United States, trucking school teaches drivers everything they need to know in order to get a commercial driver’s license, also known as a CDL. Other countries have different, but similar regulations but also won’t let some random person off the street jump behind the wheel of a big rig.
Driving a big freight vehicle isn’t like driving any passenger car, nor like driving the biggest vans and pickup trucks. There’s a lot to know if you want to be a trucker—much more than you can fit in a quick list of trucking industry facts like this one! If that appeals to you, check out trucking school.
2. Truck Crashes and High-Risk Loads Make for Dangerous Work
One of the biggest reasons truck drivers need specialized education is that big trucks are dangerous. Most drivers know from endless public service advertisements and large truck crash facts that cars weigh several tons. Driving a small sedan alone is often compared to wielding a heavy metal weapon.
With that in mind, think about how much bigger cargo trucks are than any passenger vehicle. Their higher weight and high centers of gravity make them easier to tip than most vehicles. Rough weather and other reckless drivers get the best of even the most diligent truckers, so wrecks are all too common.
The rate of accidents combined with the possibility of transporting hazardous materials and the strains of loading, unloading, and tending to the huge vehicles makes trucking one of the most dangerous jobs out there.
3. Weighbridges Are Essential for Truckers
The average semi-truck weighs without a trailer weighs up to 25,000 pounds. With an empty trailer, the weight rises to 35,000 pounds.
The maximum weight for trucks in the United States is 80,000 pounds, but individual states can set their own maximum weights. Michigan’s maximum gross vehicle weight is more than twice the federal limit.
Other countries have limits on truck weights, too. The limits vary by state and by country, but it’s always necessary to enforce a freight truck weight limit.
An excessive load can ruin a truck’s balance and cause an accident. Too much weight could also break the truck, so it’s in companies’ best interests to follow weight restrictions. The weight of trucks takes a toll on the pavement, so it’s common for authorities to put weight-based fees and taxes towards public infrastructure.
When enforcing these limits, governments and private entities need special tools. The average scale isn’t going to do the trick for this massive job! The tool used for weighing trucks is called a weighbridge.
These huge scales are cool devices: Look at these cool weighbridge facts for more information.
4. Truck Drivers Aren’t the Most Diverse Group
In the United States, most truckers are older, white men. That’s changing, to a degree: Hispanic and Latino drivers are more common in recent days, and more younger truckers are women and have more racial diversity.
One interesting fact about minority representation in trucking is that compared to the overall average, more truck drivers are disabled. It’s often difficult to find a job as a disabled person, so the trucking industry is a great opportunity for this underserved group.
Still, there’s a long way to go before the distribution of truck driver demographics comes close to reflecting the actual makeup of the world we live in. Racial, gender and sexual minorities are wary of the profession due to discrimination. Even if an employer happily welcomes diverse applicants, being on the road and among large groups of old, straight white men is intimidating.
The sad reality is that minority truckers often face harassment. That could mean verbal heckling, and sometimes more severe threats or going through with physical and/or sexual violence. The trucking industry wants a more diverse workforce but struggles to rein in traditional biases.
An office might sit everyone down for a seminar on racial discrimination, for example. It’s a lot harder for trucking companies to reach drivers spread out all over the open road.
Many truckers don’t work regular 9-5 shifts, so few people are on the same schedule all the time. Drivers aren’t always in close contact with the companies that employ them.
Those aren’t good excuses for the trucking industry’s problems but are real challenges. Trying to guarantee that drivers complete sensitivity training is enough of an issue. Enforcing rules and courteous behavior is a near impossibility.
5. The Industry Needed Truckers
Unless you lived under a rock for the past few years, chances are you’ve seen commercials, web ads, decals on trucks themselves and more trying to recruit truckers.
What you might not know is how long the shortage existed, or why it did. Up through late 2019, the American Trucking Association listed a lack of drivers as a key problem in the industry.
As e-commerce increased, so did the number of goods shipped across the nation. That created a need for more truckers.
Despite competitive pay and benefits, trucking struggles to attract enough drivers. The history of discrimination, long hours away from home, and hardship inherent to the job all contribute to the loss. Overall, the delivery culture that created more frequent shipping also means that would-be truckers are sitting at home, around ordering off eBay and Amazon Prime themselves.
Now, drivers in high-risk COVID-19 categories or living with people who are high-risk have another reason to avoid travel.
6. Trucking Struggles With Drugs
The increasing popularity of drugs—marijuana in particular—has more drivers failing mandatory drug tests. Long hours and strict deadlines mean trucking has always had a problem with stimulants like amphetamines and cocaine. On the other hand, marijuana is the most popular depressant with truckers.
To be accurate, it’s the most popular banned depressant. Drinking is legal in most places, so more drivers use alcohol. Unlike marijuana, the industry at large doesn’t care if a driver has a drinking problem at home so long as their vice doesn’t lead to drinking behind the wheel and driving accidents.
Home use of marijuana is more popular and accepted than ever before in the United States. Yet, even if a state allows cannabis, employers such as truck companies don’t have to. Carriers can’t prove whether drivers use drugs on the job versus in their free time, but they’re not willing to take any chances.
The industry learned a lesson from the rise of accidents due to stimulant use. So, they crack down on marijuana.
In many countries besides the USA, cannabis remains illegal for recreational use. Medical legality is more common. Like stateside carriers, international employers tend not to care whether a trucker uses weed for aches and pains, as a medical treatment for a chronic condition, or for fun.
Excuses that cancel out a positive drug test are few and far between. This offense can take away trucker’s licenses and force them to go through rehab before they can drive again.
None of that helps the driver shortage. Chances are, this problem isn’t going to get any better as more of the world turns to legalization and decriminalization.
7. Hundreds of Companies Went Bankrupt
The COVID-19 pandemic puts extra pressure on an already struggling industry. The end of the 2010s saw a huge number of trucking companies go under. Almost 800 companies failed in 2019 alone.
Before the pandemic started, raised tariffs led to less shipping even though more people were shopping remotely. Companies laid off thousands of drivers even though the driver shortage remained.
8. Trucking Takes a Mental and Emotional Toll
Long hours on the open road aren’t easy on the body. They do a number on the mind, too, as isolation leads to loneliness and depression.
In some cases, the mental strain alongside the hazards of the job and the issues with discrimination can even lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Liked These Truck Facts? Learn More Cool Things Here
Now that you know these truck facts, you’ll never look at large trucks the same way again. This insight should give you a new appreciation and understanding of the industry.
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