What Are The Biggest Long Haul Trucking Myths?
Drivers often don’t think twice about the big rigs they pass on the highway, but the country would grind to a halt without them. More than 70% of the country’s freight ships from one end of the country to the other, thanks to long-haul truckers. It’s also one of the most misunderstood professions, with many pervasive myths that follow it around. What are the biggest long-haul trucking myths?
Myth #1: Long Haul Trucking is Just Like The Movies
Big Rig. Big Trouble in Little China. Joy Ride. Convoy There are tons of movies that feature long-haul truckers as the main character. These are great for a bit of entertainment, but they don’t have anything to do with what the long-haul trucking industry looks like in the real world. Whether you’re looking to join the industry as a driver or just wanting to learn more, don’t turn to Hollywood to help with your research.
Myth #2: No Girls Allowed
Trucking might look like an old boy’s club from the outside, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. As of 2021, the industry employs more than 200,000 female long-haul truckers, representing 6.7% of the industry. A record number of women are obtaining their CDL and their long-haul credentials. This growth is a valuable asset for an industry that has spent the last few years struggling with a labor shortage that made it impossible to keep up with delivery demands.
Myth #3: Bringing in the Big Bucks
It’s important to note that the amount of money a long-haul trucker makes depends on their experience, location, and miles they drive every pay period. In some instances, a trucker could easily make six figures, but long-haul truckers on average make between $45,000 and $50,000 a year. The range for this career is wide, though, with those on the low end making as little as $10k a year while those on the upper end could earn more than $280,000.
Myth #4: Truckers are Dangerous
The big rigs they drive might look intimidating if they pull up alongside a sedan or other daily driver, but the truckers themselves aren’t dangerous. The industry goes out of its way to train and vet drivers, ensuring that the safest and most skilled are behind the wheel on these long-haul deliveries. Drivers will go out of their way to prevent or avoid an accident because even a small collision could be devastating when considering the size difference between their rig and the other cars on the road. Even if we disregard the risk of death, collisions could jeopardize the driver’s career.
Myth #5: Big Rigs Don’t Use A Lot of Fuel
The myth that long-haul trucks don’t use more fuel than the average vehicle keeps circulating. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to compare the fuel usage of a 2,500-pound sedan with a 100,000-pound fully loaded big rig, but the myth still persists. The average daily driver will burn through about 500 gallons a year. The average big rig will use more than 20,000 gallons of fuel in the same period.
Myth #6: McDonald’s is the Most Transported Item
Long-haul truckers carry everything from food to medical supplies and industrial materials. One pervasive myth is that McDonald’s food is the most transported item. This might make sense to the average driver because it’s hard to get on the highway without seeing at least one McDonald’s truck, but it isn’t the most transported item. Long-haul truckers are most commonly protecting and transporting furniture, clothing and mechanical equipment.
Myth #7: Truckers Aren’t Allowed to Shower
No one wants to spend hours in a truck without being able to freshen up, use the bathroom and find somewhere to relax for the night. Truck stops sit along highways and interstates and offer food, fuel, showers and safe places to stop for the night for long-haul truckers and travelers alike. Truckers are also limited on how many hours they’re allowed to spend behind the wheel, which will be explored more in a moment.
Myth #8: Big Rigs Will Never Go Electric
Long-haul trucks might be big diesel guzzlers right now, but that won’t always be the case. Tesla is working on making electric semis available to the logistics industry. Depending on the extras package, these trucks can travel between 300 and 500 miles between charges, generate no emissions and haul just as much freight as their diesel-powered counterparts. They won’t completely replace traditional rigs anytime soon, but these electric semis will likely gain momentum to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint in the coming years.
Myth #9: No Sleep Til Brooklyn
One of the biggest myths is that long-haul truckers don’t stop until they reach their destination. These truckers operate under what is known as the 14-hour rule. Each duty period lasts for 14 hours, but after driving for eight hours, the driver must take at least a 30-minute break. They are also not allowed to drive for more than 11 hours straight during a single duty period. Drivers must carefully plan their routes and stops, depending on when they’re on the road and the distance to their next destination.
Myth #10: It’s a Lonely Road
Truck driving, especially long-haul trucking, is often portrayed as a lonely profession. While it’s true that many drivers work alone, that isn’t the only option. Drivers can also work together, creating a partnership that enables them to travel further, reach more destinations and get more work done. Truck driving, in general, is also a very social career, with drivers communicating through radio or just catching up over coffee at the truck stop while they wait for the shower to open up.
Which Myth Surprised You?
Which of these myths did you find the most surprising? Long haul trucking keeps the country moving forward and without the men and women who sit behind the wheel, much of what the average American takes for granted would vanish. It’s worth the effort to better understand this essential career, even if you never intended to get a CDL or explore a career in the industry.