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Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers transport goods from one location to another. Most tractor-trailer drivers are long-haul drivers and operate trucks with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) capacity of more than 26,000 pounds. These drivers deliver goods over intercity routes, sometimes spanning several states.Duties
Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers typically do the following:
Most heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers’ routes are assigned by a dispatcher, but some independent drivers still plan their own routes. They may use satellite tracking to help them plan.
A driver must know which roads allow trucks and which do not. Drivers also must plan legally required rest periods into their trip. Some drivers have one or two routes that they drive regularly, and others drivers take many different routes throughout the country. Also, some drivers have routes that include Mexico or Canada.
Companies sometimes use two drivers, known as teams, on long runs in order to minimize downtime. On these team runs, one driver sleeps in a berth behind the cab while the other drives.
Certain cargo requires drivers to adhere to additional safety regulations. Some heavy truck drivers who transport hazardous materials, such as chemical waste, must take special precautions when driving, and may carry specialized safety equipment in case of an accident. Other drivers, such as those carrying liquids, oversized loads, or cars, must follow rules that apply specifically to them.
Some long-haul truck drivers, called owner–operators, buy or lease trucks and go into business for themselves. In addition to their driving tasks, owner-operators also have business tasks, including finding and keeping clients and doing administrative work, such as accounting.
Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers usually have a high school diploma and attend a professional truckdriving school. They must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL).Education
Most companies require their truck drivers to have a high school diploma or equivalent.
Many companies require drivers to attend professional truckdriving schools, where they take training courses to learn how to maneuver large vehicles on highways or through crowded streets. During these classes, drivers also learn the federal laws and regulations governing interstate truck driving. Students attend either a private truckdriving school or a program at a community college that lasts between 3 and 6 months.
Upon finishing their classes, drivers receive a certificate of completion.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is considering a requirement that mandates all newly hired interstate truck drivers to take a truckdriving course.
The Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) certifies a small percentage of driver-training courses at truckdriver training schools that meet both the industry standards and the U.S. Department of Transportation guidelines for training tractor-trailer drivers.Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
All long-haul truck drivers must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Qualifications for obtaining a CDL vary by state but generally include passing both a knowledge test and a driving test. States have the right to refuse to issue a CDL to anyone who has had a CDL suspended by another state.
Drivers can get endorsements to their CDL that show their ability to drive a specialized type of vehicle. Truck drivers transporting hazardous materials (HAZMAT) must have a hazardous materials endorsement (H). Getting this endorsement requires passing an additional knowledge test and a background check.
Federal regulations require random testing of on-duty truck drivers for drug or alcohol abuse. In addition, truck drivers can have their CDL suspended if they are convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or are convicted of a felony involving the use of a motor vehicle.
Other actions can result in a suspension after multiple violations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website has a list of these violations. Additionally, some companies have stricter standards than what federal regulations require.Training
After completing truckdriving school and being hired by a company, drivers normally receive between 1 and 3 months of on-the-job training. During this time, they drive a truck with a more experienced mentor–driver in the passenger seat. This period of on-the-job training is given so that the new drivers will learn more about the specific type of truck they will drive and material they will transport.Important Qualities
Hand-eye coordination. Drivers of heavy trucks and tractor-trailers must be able to coordinate their legs, hands, and eyes simultaneously so that they will react appropriately to the situation around them and drive the vehicle safely.
Hearing ability. Truck drivers need good hearing. Federal regulations require that a driver be able to hear a forced whisper in one ear at 5 feet (with or without the use of a hearing aid).
Physical health. Federal regulations do not allow people to become truck drivers if they have a medical condition, such as high blood pressure or epilepsy, which may interfere with their ability to operate a truck. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website has a full list of medical conditions that disqualify someone from driving a long-haul truck.
Visual ability. Truck drivers must be able to pass vision tests. Federal regulations require a driver to have at least 20/40 vision with a 70-degree field of vision in each eye and the ability to distinguish the colors on a traffic light.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Tractor-Trailer Driver
Top Careers After Tractor-Trailer Driver
Hispanic or Latino10.6%
Black or African American0.5%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
All-State Career School9.1%
New England Tractor Trailer Training School8.3%
University of Phoenix8.3%
National Tractor Trailer School Inc7.4%
Sinclair Community College5.0%
College of Southern Maryland5.0%
Central Texas College5.0%
Southern Illinois University Carbondale4.1%
Camden County College4.1%
Bergen Community College4.1%
Mohawk Valley Community College4.1%
Pennsylvania College of Technology3.3%
Community College of Philadelphia3.3%
New England Tractor Trailer Training School of Connecticut3.3%
Pima Community College3.3%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Horse Tractor Trailer Driver||Brook Ledge Inc.||Oley, PA||Apr 01, 2016||$51,194|
|Truck Driivers, Heavy and Tractor-Trailer||Manuel Huerta Trucking Inc.||Rio Rico, AZ||Oct 17, 2007||$36,000 -
|Truckdrivers, Heavy and Tractor-Trailer||Manuel Huerta Trucking Inc.||Rio Rico, AZ||Feb 21, 2008||$36,000 -
|Tractor Trailer Driver||Bullet Transport Services, Inc.||Presidio, TX||May 19, 2008||$31,994|
|Tractor Trailer Driver||Winding Brook Turf Farm Inc.||Suffield, CT||Jan 04, 2016||$24,501|
|Tractor Trailer Driver||Winding Brook Turf Farm Inc.||Suffield, CT||Apr 15, 2015||$23,500|
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