Over the road trucking sends truck drivers on long-distance hauls. Long-distance hauling involves truck drivers pulling tractor trailers, flat beds or tankers with rigs and 18 wheels. This type of transportation is a necessity to the commercial transportation industry as the quickest, least expensive manner of transporting goods, such as food and construction materials. Log books record thousands of miles, often in one trip. This job keeps truck drivers away from home for long periods, and at risk for health issues related to stress, high blood pressure, diet and fitness.[/box]
[box type="shadow"]Handling Fatigue
An over the road trucker often drives at night as well as day in order to deliver her load on time. Roads are less crowded at night, providing favorable conditions for the truck driver. When driving through the night and day with little rest, she is likely to experience fatigue. Fatigue is characterized by blurred vision, sleepiness and loss of concentration. Dangers of fatigue include weaving in and out of traffic lanes, increased errors while driving, mistakes with deliveries and missed gear changes. All truck drivers are federally required to maintain log books with hours and miles driven in order to curb fatigue and promote rest when on the road. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, each trucker must rest for a certain amount of hours per total driving hours, varying on load type and distance traveled. Sleeping for at least seven hours at a time rather than dividing sleep into segments is necessary to provide efficient sleep. Tips for sleeping during the sunny days include covering the windows, keeping the sleeper cool and not overeating before sleeping, which can hinder the quality of sleep.[/box]
[box type="shadow"]Over the Road Expenses
Truck drivers who travel over the road receive pay for their time and mileage. However, a truck driver must consider the costs he will incur during his trip. A truck driver traveling long distances pays for his fuel, truck maintenance and highway toll fees, as well as meals, showers, entertainment and, occasionally, lodging. Some companies give their drivers a per diem for these expenses and others provide reimbursement for certain expenses. Independent drivers who own their truck may not receive any immediate reimbursement, but can file these business expenses as deductions on their income taxes. Most truck drivers are eligible for fuel cards at major truck stops that record their fuel purchases for reimbursement. These cards often come with perks such as free items, including coffee, showers or meals with fuel purchases. Oversize fuel stations, shower facilities, Wi-Fi access, lounge areas and full-service restaurants featuring quick-serve buffets are typically found at major truck stops to accommodate the needs of long-distance truckers.[/box]
[box type="shadow"]Use of Technology
Technology is entering the field of over the road trucking. Truck drivers utilize global positioning systems (GPS) to locate delivery locations and reroute the trip in construction areas. Some larger companies use satellites to determine the location of trucks on route, and provide their employees with weather reports and traffic information. Detailed mapping, email communication with dispatchers and research tools for mechanical problems are accessible through an Internet connection. Truck drivers communicate with their families via the Internet using computer technologies, such as video or email messaging. Computerized inventory tracking tags placed on products provide monitoring of products while in transit. Customers benefit with these cost effective means for ensuring their product is delivered on time and to the correct address.