The life of a trucker has always been hard, especially for long-haul drivers. Today there is a shortage of about 200,000 truck drivers. Many companies are willing to train their own drivers now as opposed to making them pay for driving school, so long as they drive for them for a contracted period of time. The health risks of a sedentary lifestyle with poor food, little exercise, hours cooped up behind the wheel, and long lonely weeks away from home have made a career in trucking seem like a last desperate resort to young people today and with amount of goods to move only going up drivers are now more crucial than ever. With most of the “baby-boomer” generation truckers retiring and younger people opting to trades like plumbing or construction out of high school, companies are taking serious measures to perk up life on the road for their hard-working drivers:
- Opportunity for Exercise: Over the last two years truck stop operators have spent over $170 million on amenities such as jogging trails, gyms, and cleaner shower facilities to give truckers the chance to lead a healthier lifestyle. Obesity has always been a common problem among truckers. Between a gallon of coffee a day to keep from driving off the road, frequent fast food stops, and the less than healthy menu choices at truck stops it can be extremely difficult stay healthy living life on the road. Some are even going as far as to bring a bicycle along when they go out on the road. Most of all, these new and convenient amenities allow truckers to relieve stress. As a result they sleep better, are happier, and are more motivated.
- Healthy Diet: Another serious upgrade truck stop operators are making is the selection of food available on their menus. As mentioned above fried and fast foods are a traditional part of the diet on the road. Throw in an excess amount of coffee and you have a lot of employees at a serious health risk. Companies like TravelCenter and Pilot(Since taking over Flying J in 2010) have made huge upgrades to their restaurants and delis to give truckers a healthier selection of food. Baked chicken and fresh fruit are now served at most of these stops and the availability of green tea has served as a healthier alternative to coffee for some. Truckers now have access to healthy lifestyle like they have never had before and it is only getting better.
- Jobs: Unlike many other businesses in today’s economy, truckers are at no shortage of available work. In fact, that 200,000 driver shortage has created such heavy demand that drivers in training typically have 3 or more job offers before they are certified to go out on the road. In an economy where unemployment is over 8% this wide open field of work is pretty rare to find.
- Comfortable Living Space: Newer trucks are being financed by companies like Ryder, Con-way Truckload, and many others. These new rigs are carrying luxuries like DVD players, satellite dishes, and GPS. In addition, the sizes of the cabs are being expanded to make truckers feel less cooped up and more comfortable in their rig. In other words their making work feel more like home.
In an economy where business is down and good work is hard to find, transport is only growing and with it the demand for drivers. The entire industry is not only hiring but looking to make life as comfortable as possible for its employees. Best of all, for one year of your loyal service a lot of companies will train you for free. Free training, never-before-seen perks, plenty of opportunity, trucking business is the place to be.
Dale Jackson has always been passionate about the open road. In order to help other people realize their dreams, he writes for Capital Solutions, who specialize in commercial truck financing.
Photo by psiaki.