First of all, it’s worth taking a moment to recognise that there is not a ‘normal’ day for a trucker, and especially for a long-distance lorry driver, whose schedules can be affected by everything from the weather, to mandatory rest stops, to roadworks, to delivery deadlines.
A day can mean anywhere around ten hours behind the wheel, and for many truckers it is this that attracts them to the job in the first place – just their HGV and the open road, and hopefully not too many other vehicles or traffic cones to contend with.
Expect an early start, especially if the pickup or delivery slots demand it, and again many HGV drivers prefer the roads in early morning or late at night, before the busy traffic of the daytime has started to appear.
Motorway service stations will become a familiar sight for rest stops and ‘comfort breaks’, but equally you might find earlier delays mean you feel compelled to drive on by with no time for a break if roadworks, congestion or a lane closure due to an accident have put you behind schedule.
When you do find time to take a break, it’s normal for many truckers to have more than one eye on the clock, as from the moment you reduce your speed to leave the motorway, you’re falling behind on where you could be.
Compared with parking a car and hopping straight out, pulling an HGV into a suitable space is no mean feat in itself, and getting back out on to the open road and up to speed can come as even more of a relief than the comfort break itself.
But there are rules to make sure you get the rest you need, including a cap on daily driving time at nine hours, which can extend to ten hours twice a week, and a weekly limit of 56 hours, plus a slightly lower fortnightly limit of 90 hours.
You should get at least 11 hours’ rest every day, plus a weekly rest period of 45 hours with no work-related driving, and 45 minute breaks in every four and a half hours behind the wheel.
Best of all for many truckers is the relationship with the vehicle that gives them their job title – the truck, lorry or HGV itself.
Not all haulage companies allocate specific vehicles to specific drivers, but more and more are recognising that pride in one’s own vehicle can mean designated drivers take better care of their truck than if they are just given whatever vehicle is available at the time.
There are also plenty of owner-operators, and you’re likely to spot these out on the roads as their trucks are often more distinctive, with much more personalised paintwork, decals and vinyl wraps to express the owner’s sense of style.
Some larger haulage firms famously fit their trucks with unique name decals or graphics inspired by Hollywood movies and videogames, too, and looking out for any of these can help a long journey to pass more enjoyably for all motorists.
Long-distance truckers are committed not only to a job, but to a way of life – with some aspects that stay more or less the same, and others, like your working hours or destination, that can change wildly overnight, but this is all part of the appeal for those who stay in the job for the long term.