It’s no doubt that truckers work long hours. Over the road (OTR) truckers travel long distances and put in a lot of miles — that’s how they get paid, after all. But what does a truck driver do to pass the time when not driving? What is a “day in the life” of a trucker like?
The best way to answer that question is, it depends. A typical day differs depending on whether you are an over-the-road, regional trucker, or local delivery driver. That said, the better part of any truck driver’s day is spent behind the wheel delivering loads.
What Do Truck Drivers Do When Not Driving?
What truck drivers do in their off time also depends on whether the truck is long-haul or local and whether the person is a solo truck driver or part of a team.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limits truck driving “hours of service” (the number of hours driving) is limited to 11 hours per day with a 10-hour break. So, it won’t surprise you to learn that truckers spend much of their off-time sleeping
Local drivers likely spend that time at home, but for OTR or regional truckers, it’s in the sleeper compartment.
Because semi-truck manufacturers realize that long-haul truck drivers can spend days and even weeks on the road, they make sleepers fully loaded to maximize comfort. (It wasn’t always that way; in the old days, a mattress was the only thing you’d find.)
Some have two beds and come equipped with a small refrigerator, microwave, and TV. Storage for clothes and bags is also a must. Nicer sleeping compartments have a fold-out desk, space for a laptop computer, and even a toilet. Some drivers, particularly owner-operators, personalize the space to make it feel homier.
Other Ways Truck Drivers Pass the Time
Another way truckers pass the time when not driving is by spending time at truck stops. Many modern truck stops have a restaurant (some have more than one), showers, a lounge, laundry, and free Wi-Fi.
The best ones even offer creature comforts like mini-movie theaters, salons, barbershops, and shoeshine stations. Truckers can also stock up on essential items (e.g., toiletries, snacks, bottled water, etc.) at truck stop convenience stores.
The largest truck stop in the US, Iowa 80, located on Interstate 80 in Walcott, Iowa, boasts a chiropractor, dentist, workout room, and dog washing station!
The many hours spent on the road can make truckers hungry. Although a hearty meat and potatoes meal is still standard fare, restaurants now offer all types and varieties of food. It’s not unusual to find everything from Mexican to Asian to seafood, steaks, and more.
Of course, truckers have responsibilities that include communicating with dispatchers, filling out logbooks, and inspecting their tractor-trailer rigs. But other ways truckers pass the time is by chatting with fellow drivers on CB radios, listening to music or podcasts, playing video games, or just surfing the web.
As you can see, life on the road doesn’t have to be hard. Between the comfortable sleeper compartments built into trucks these days to all the conveniences that modern truck stops offer, it can be downright enjoyable.
If the road is calling you, consider applying to a truck driving school training program. The CDL School is a great place for new drivers to start their careers. Learn what types of jobs you can get with a CDL and the professional truck driver salary you could earn.