For a truck driver, the average day consists mostly of, well…driving.
Although, this job isn’t just as simple as getting cargo from point A to point B. Truck drivers transport any number of goods, and many of these require training and knowledge to be able to handle their loads safely.
6am - Start of the day
For the sake of simplicity we’ll start the day at 6am, but as a driver your day could realistically start at any time. You could start early or late, stick to sunlight hours or drive through the night (Although, from a safety point of view, it’s better to drive during times you’d normally be awake). Though, regardless of when you start, the work doesn’t begin with just jumping in your cab and driving away.
A driver’s day starts when they start working, which doesn’t necessarily mean driving. This could including loading the truck, performing a pre-start check or fuelling the vehicle. A pre-start check is a daily ritual and is vital before starting (the name may have given away that one). It double checks that the vehicle is roadworthy and that the cargo has been safely and correctly restrained.
6:45am - Let’s get driving
Now that all the safety necessities are out of the way and the truck’s actually been loaded, the driving begins. Just like starting time, the length of the trip, route and number of drop offs can vary. Truckies normally have a plan for their day, given that they’re a little bigger than your regular car. They have to plan out their rest stops, food stops, fuel top ups, naps and overnight stays. These breaks are crucial for fatigue management and have to be planned out to ensure that you’re not stuck falling asleep and starving with the only place to stop being a car park with a 3m height regulation while you’re driving 4m tall truck.
9:30am - Still early, still driving
Most people have started their day, but you’re probably beating traffic. Being on the road can start to get tedious, especially as a solo driver, so while driving, the radio, music, podcasts, and audiobooks provide some much needed entertainment.
12:15pm - First break. Woohoo!
Throughout the progression of the trip, records must be taken, every break must be noted and recorded. This should be completed at the time of each break to ensure the records are as accurate as possible. This is also probably the time to grab some food. Finding a feed on the road when you don’t want your entire diet to consist of unidentifiable meat from a multinational fast-food chain can be hard, but there are local road side options that can provide a slightly healthier alternative.
2:45 - Arvo coffee
The afternoon caffeine hit is an essential in most professions but the time in which you need to take this break depends on your fatigue management strategy. Working under standard hours, with Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) accreditation or with Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM) accreditation, determines when you’re required to take breaks, and how long you are able to continuously drive for. Under standard hours, breaks must be taken closer together than with BFM or AFM. Accreditation allows for longer and more flexible work hours, as long as those hours are balanced out by sleep and rest and fatigue management practices are put in place and adhered to.
5:00 - Evening stroll
Using breaks to do some form of exercise – even if it’s just a quick walk – is good not just for your physical but your mental health too. Maintaining your health while on the road can be difficult, but by using some of your break time to get in some physical activity is a good option. That, or you could try doing exercises in your cab. I’m not sure how that would look but you could give it a go (just don’t try while you’re moving).
6-8pm - Put it in park
In a 24 period, under standard hours, drivers can only work up to 12hrs, with BFM this is extended to 14hrs. By this time you may have reached your destination and can spend the last moments of your shift unloading your truck and thinking about the couple 100km you managed to drive today, or you could be only part way there in which case, you have to stop for the night and sleep/rest for the next 7 continuous hours.
The days of a truck driver are long and mostly filled with open roads and driving and this is just one possible option of what a day could consist of. Does this sound like a regular day to you? If we’ve missed anything, let us know in the comments below!