Nearly every good that goes from one place to another spends at least part of its journey in a truck. U.S. businesses rely extensively on the services of truck drivers to quickly and securely move their products.
Before leaving on a delivery, truck drivers inspect their vehicles (much as someone leaving on vacation checks the fluid levels, tire pressure, and other things in their car). While driving, truck drivers must be constantly alert. They try to pick routes where traffic is steady and conditions are safe. Today's truck drivers have technology on their sides, including GPS (global positioning systems), enhanced radio communication, and electronic monitors for engine performance, fuel levels, and cargo conditions.
Heavy truck and tractor-trailer drivers operate trucks weighing at least 26,000 pounds (gross vehicle weight, or GVW). Most travel from one city to another over long distances. For especially long trips, companies might send two drivers, so one can sleep in a berth behind the cab while the other drives. Once they reach their destination, they file reports for the U.S. Department of Transportation. DOT rules are quite strict, and include mandated 10-hour rest periods for every 11-hour driving stretch.
Light and delivery services truck drivers often run loops, delivering goods to one city, unloading them, and picking up new ones to return to their city or neighborhood. These drivers are more likely than others to have to load and unload merchandise, adding to the physical strain of this job. Most work 50-hour+ work weeks. However, they usually get to go home each night - unlike long-distance haulers. Some delivery drivers are also responsible for making sales and collecting orders. For example, local bakery trucks deliver to area stores and pick up the next order.