This year, the Pride and Polish event is all virtual, and Overdrive Magazine is still taking entries for the 2021 photo competition. You can enter your photos by June 3 (no fees to enter!).
What is Overdrive?
Overdrive was launched in September 1961 by Mike Parkhurst. He was its vocal editor and publisher until its sale to its current owner, Randall Publishing Co. (now Randall-Reilly), in 1986.
During the 25 years he published Overdrive, Parkhurst championed the rights of owner operators to work freely amid a complex web of Teamster pressures and over-regulation.
Throughout its early history, Overdrive called for protests over fuel prices and anti-trucking legislation. Those conflicts, notably during the late 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s, eventually led to deregulation in the early 1990s and today’s climate in which the self-employed contractor can operate with much greater independence.
Today’s trucking industry owes a lot to Overdrive!
What is Pride and Polish?
Pride and Polish events, produced by Overdrive Magazine, are the gold standard of truck shows. They provide an opportunity for camaraderie amongst drivers and their families in the trucking industry.
Pride and polish launched in 1990 at MATS in Louisville, KY. In 1999, Pride and Polish was added to GATS in Dallas, TX. Pride and Polish is open to company drivers and owner operators.
This year, due to the cancellation of in-person events, the GATS Pride and Polish show will be held virtually.
After many, many years of being in the trucking industry, I dare say I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen loyal drivers that go above and beyond to provide for their families and support other drivers. But I’ve also seen drivers make catastrophic mistakes without realizing the consequences.
Here at Freight X, we have some of the most desirable lanes in the industry – numerous drop-and-hook customers out of Florida, lanes that have you home every night, and over-the-road opportunities throughout the southeast with very competitive pay options. Plus, when you call us, we know you by name – not a number. Why in the world would you give that up?
While we have some of the most loyal, hard-working, smart guys and gals working here, there are always a few that seem to give truckers a bad name. And they ruin their career – and life – in the process.
From lying on the application to refusing a drug test, here are 12 things truck drivers can do to ruin their driving careers.
1. Lying On Your Application
This is by far the most common stupid thing drivers do. We will find out what you did at your last job and why you got fired if you did get fired.
If you have an accident, speeding violations… we will find out! And if that’s not on your application, we’re not going to hire you. There’s so much documentation available, and drivers will continue to lie even when we show them the DOT documents… it’s just a waste of your time to lie.
Just be honest! We give drivers the benefit of the doubt, but when you begin the relationship by lying, we will never trust you and thus, we can’t hire you.
2. Drinking and Driving
This one is pretty obvious – when you’re caught drinking and driving, you lose your license and your driving job. In fact, it’ll be at least over a year before anyone will consider hiring you again. And the desirable trucking companies may never hire you again with that kind of infringement on your record.
States have different regulations, but many states lower the drinking limit if you have a CDL. For example, it goes from .08 to .04 – professional drivers are held to a higher standard, even if you’re not driving a commercial vehicle (FMCSA).
Consider this: after three hours of drinking, a 200-pound male would measure a 0.05% BAC after just four 12-ounce beers. I don’t know about you, but it’s pretty easy to drink four beers in three hours!
So while drinking and driving is an obvious mistake, some drivers don’t realize that having a few beers at dinner and driving home can ruin their entire driving career.
3. Doing Recreational Drugs and Refusing Drug Tests
It’s true that many states including Illinois, Michigan, and the entire western seaboard have legalized medicinal and recreational use of marijuana.
However, even though many states have legalized marijuana, it’s still not legal with the federal Department of Transportation (DOT).
Under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), a person is not physically qualified to drive a CMV if he or she uses any Schedule I controlled substance such as marijuana. You can’t possess it in your truck, and you certainly can’t be under the influence. In fact, you can’t do it period – even while you’re off-duty.
Being high or having marijuana in your vehicle while driving a CMV is a DOT violation.
Truck drivers are in a safety-sensitive role – being fully present with quick reflexes is so important, especially when you’re driving a vehicle that can end someone’s life if it’s done improperly.
Unfortunately, this does happen, and don’t think you’re smart enough to get away with it. It will catch up with you, whether it’s from a dock worker who smells it and reports you or a random drug test. And when that happens, you’ve ruined your driving career.
Refusing a Drug Test
Additionally, refusing a drug test is the same as testing positive. And now, with the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, everyone will know if you refused a drug test.
We can’t stress this enough – you won’t be able to get a good driving job if you’ve refused a drug test.
Your only option is to meet with a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) who will do a face-to-face assessment, recommend a plan of treatment or education, send a report to your employer about it, monitor your progress as you do the plan, and do a final evaluation.
It’s a long – not to mention expensive – process, and even when you do it, you’ll never get a high-quality trucking job again.
And here’s where a lot of drivers ruin their careers without even realizing it – if we schedule you for a pre-employment drug test and you don’t show, many companies consider that a failed test. As you know, a no-show is the same as testing positive.
If you’re not interested in working somewhere, don’t accept a drug test and then not show up!
4. Getting In a Fight
Again, it feels like some of the things on this list are so obvious, but they’ve all happened far too many times.
Thankfully, the majority of our drivers are professionals and take the job extremely seriously. But there are always a select few, particularly at large trucking companies that accept newer drivers, that ruin the good name of drivers across the country.
As a truck driver, you’re a company’s representative in front of the customer. Getting agitated, being annoying, being mean, acting rudely to the dock workers, and getting in a fight all reflect badly on the company you work for.
Any of these, particularly getting in a physical fight, will cost you your job, and you probably won’t get any future trucking jobs with that on your DAC report.
Remember that the information on your DAC could be the difference between landing an incredible driving job that brings in six figures and never operating a CMV again.
5. Leaving on Bad Terms
Speaking of your DAC report, you never want to leave a trucking company on bad terms. If you have to part ways, do it respectfully and with dignity.
Trucking companies document when they terminate someone on your DAC report, and they put the reason they terminated you.
If you had a disagreement with your employer – and you might even be right – bring that truck back in working order, and don’t vandalize it! If you do, believe me – that will go on your DAC report.
Always try to end on good terms, even if you have to bite your tongue. Always have your future in mind. If you have a family, think of them – don’t let your pride or anger ruin the rest of your driving career just to get back at a trucking company!
6. Being Late, Oversleeping
Time management is a part of the job. If you accept a load, it’s your responsibility to be on time.
If there will be any kind of delay, you must contact dispatch and inform them.
We understand that life happens, and we’ve all overslept! But the worst thing you can do is not communicate with anyone and set the company up to fail.
Informing the customer that we’ll be late as soon as we know is the best way to maintain a great relationship. Of course, being on time every time is what we shoot for, but when the inevitable happens – you can’t stop highway accidents from happening! – having excellent communication sets us apart.
When you’re late, you’re failing on one of the most important parts of the job, and that will make you a less desirable driver to any trucking company out there.
7. Abusing Equipment
Take care of the equipment! Treat all equipment as if it’s your own.
Think of your truck as your office. Keeping your truck neat and tidy is not just a reflection on you, but it’s an FMCSA regulation not to have “things” which could become projectiles in an accident.
Failing to take care of your equipment will leave you out of a job, and it’s unlikely high-quality trucking companies will hire you with that kind of commentary on your DAC report.
8. Job Hopping
One of the worst things a hiring or safety manager can see is the constant moving from job to job.
We all know that sometimes, core values are not compatible between a company and an employee, but a driver should not set a pattern of moving from one job to another.
There are onboarding costs involved with hiring a driver, and a company is not likely to invest their time and resources into you if you have a job hopper track record.
9. Having a Poor Reason For Leaving
We all know that getting paid one’s worth is essential. However, that doesn’t mean you should badmouth your previous boss or state that money was a deciding factor for you.
Be professional in stating why you left. A more appropriate statement could be, “There was no room for advancement,” or “I needed to relocate.”
When the first concern out of your mouth is money, it’s not a great start to the business relationship. These types of drivers have a pattern of borrowing money, complaining about their work, and quitting.
Drivers that are professional and respectful set themselves up for success and earn the highest-paying loads, the newest trucks, and room for advancement within the company. Loyalty goes a long way in this business, and the drivers that have been with us the longest and conduct themselves in a professional, respectful manner are treated accordingly.
10. Failing to Report Accidents
Just because an accident isn’t your fault doesn’t mean you can keep it to yourself. Drivers are mandated to report accidents to their employers and to the state in which their license was issued.
We once had a driver that got into an accident with our truck two blocks from the terminal. The officer told him it wasn’t his fault, so he thought he didn’t have to tell us. The side of our truck was all scratched up, and we found out on an inspection notification.
It turns out the other people tried to sue us, even though the police report said it wasn’t our fault. You can imagine how that kind of news is a shock to the employer – we will defend our drivers any day, but when you keep an accident from us, you will lose your job.
That driver could’ve kept his job, but by lying, he ruined his driving career and now has to find a trucking company that will accept him despite this information on his DAC report.
11. Roadside Inspections
If you get roadside inspections, they will look at anything from your logs to the equipment itself. Do proper pre and post-trip inspections to make sure you’re not in violation of any safety regulations.
Violations go on your record as well as the company’s record, and if you have too many violations on your license, trucking companies won’t hire you (including Freight X).
12. Excessive Speeding Violations
Certain traffic violations categorized as “serious violations” can lead to losing your CDL privileges. The specific regulations vary by state, but going 15+ miles per hour over the speed limit is considered a serious volition in every state.
If a driver receives two “excessive speeding” violations in a commercial vehicle, they lose their CDL.
And what some drivers don’t realize is your personal vehicle also counts. If a CDL holder is convicted of one excessive speeding volution in a CMV and one in his or her personal vehicle within three years of the first violation, you lose your CDL.
Additionally, if you are convicted of excessive speeding violations in your personal passenger vehicle, and the second offense is within three years of the first, you also lose your CDL (FMCSA).
Your license is your livelihood – why would you place yourself in this situation?
What Happens Next?
Any of these 12 things can ruin your trucking career – permanently.
Once you’ve damaged your record, your only options in this field are undesirable and/or low-paying trucking jobs. For example:
Jobs that require a CDL-B
School bus driver
Driving dump trucks with small trailers
Getting shipments from ports, which typically require you to live near the port
You go from six-figure earning potential to about $30,000 per year, on average.
Please think twice before doing something stupid, like smoking pot during your 10-hour break!
If you’re a truck driver and your company leaves you stranded, it can extremely stressful. Being stranded in the middle of nowhere is nothing new for drivers, but as of late, it has become an even bigger issue.
In 2019, about 10 midsize to large trucking companies shut down, including HVH Transportation, New England Motor Freight Inc., Falcon Transport, Stevens Tanker Division, and most notably, Celadon (Freight Waves).
Celadon Group Inc. had the largest trucking failure of 2019, leaving over 2,500 drivers stranded thousands of miles from home. These drivers found that their fuel cards were deactivated, and no one was telling them what to do about upcoming planned loads or their trucks.
To make matters even worse, many drivers were in the middle of a load with trailers full of goods. They knew they wouldn’t be paid if they finished their route, but at the same time, what are you supposed to do with a loaded trailer full of someone’s stuff?
Whether your trucking company went bankrupt or your truck broke down and they’re not sending you help, we have some advice on what to do going forward when you’re stranded far from home.
Don’t Trash The Truck!
The theme here is that you shouldn’t take a bad situation and make it worse. Although the company may owe you money, they left you stranded, they deactivated your fuel card, and you have their equipment, you don’t want to do anything stupid. It’s not worth risking your future!
As a truck driver, your license, your record, and your overall standing as a driver is your livelihood. Resist the urge to trash the vehicle, leave it in some random field, or park it on a back road in the middle of nowhere. Decisions like that can come back to bite you, and you want to be employable in the future.
Park Your Truck at a Truck Stop
If you’ve tried contacting your dispatchers, the management, and you’ve exhausted all resources, we recommend parking the truck at a truck stop. Put the keys on the dipstick, remove your personal items, and lock the doors.
Don’t leave the keys in the ignition, because that’s a pretty obvious spot, and you could be blamed in the future if the truck is stolen.
Take Photos of How You Left the Truck
Finally, take photos of where you left the truck and what condition you left it in. The more photos, the better. Treat it like an accident and document the truck thoroughly.
This extra step will make sure you’re protected if someone tries to blame you for damage to the truck later on.
Sometimes, trucking companies are also bought out by venture capitalists, and their goal is to sell everything off and close the doors to milk it for all its worth. We aren’t bankruptcy law experts, but that can happen. They’re going to come after that truck eventually, so take photos to make sure you have nothing to worry about.
Get an Uber or Bus Ticket Home
Once you’ve dealt with the truck, it’s time to get home. If you’re relatively close to home, you can get an Uber or Lyft relatively inexpensively.
If you’re a bit farther away, consider purchasing a bus ticket, which can be a lot cheaper than airfare.
Contact Trucking Companies In the Area
If you’re seriously stranded – as in, thousands of miles from home – larger trucking companies can often afford to send for you. They are all itching for new drivers, so you may find that they’re willing to go the extra mile to recruit you.
You might also contact trucking companies in the area. If you’re out of money and can’t get a ride, lots of companies will definitely help you out. People out there want you as a driver and may be able to pick you up.
Budget a Rainy Day Fund
Especially as an owner operator, we recommend having a little bit of savings in a rainy day fund. While you never expect your trucking company to go out of business or leave you stranded, you want to be prepared for anything. That includes the potential of being stranded without help.
In addition, don’t expect your trucking company to shell out $10,000 to come get you if your truck broke down across the country. A lot of drivers jump from job to job, so why would the company bend over backward if they expect you to leave?
However, loyal drivers can expect the “royal” treatment. Trucking companies will go the extra mile (pun intended!) for drivers who stick around and are dedicated to their position. (Including us.)
In any case, having some money set aside for situations like this will ease your worries and help you transition to the next opportunity.
As a trucker, you’re in demand and are always employable. The nice thing is it won’t take you months to find a new job. Move on, but do it in the right way.
In our industry, integrity is key. Keep an excellent reputation and resist the urge to retaliate. This too shall pass.
Choose a Trucking Company That Won’t Leave You Stranded
Finally, be sure to work for a company that won’t leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere! Here at Freight X, we’re there for our drivers – especially when they need us the most.
Maurice Watson, a loyal driver currently on our lease-purchase program, explains in his Driver Spotlight, “you’re never stranded with this company.”
When his truck broke down in the middle of Arizona, Maurice found out it would take nearly a month to get it fixed. Our team at Freight X sent help from Florida all the way to Arizona – and with a tractor in tow!
“I was so happy to see them come over the horizon with that tractor,” Maurice says. “Not too many companies are actually doing that. That was a life-saving moment for me.”
Of course, we’d love to have you as a part of our driving team here at Freight X. However, be sure to ask whatever company you’re talking with what they’d do in a similar situation.
Being stranded in the middle of nowhere is extremely stressful, especially when you have no support from your trucking company.
If we can be of any assistance to you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. You can call our office at 325-629-2042 for help, or you can reach us via our Contact Form.
Without truck drivers, there wouldn’t be a supermarket with Chilean seabass and Alaskan crab. Without truck drivers, there wouldn’t be the perfectly wrapped packages of Barbies and Hot Wheels under the tree. Without truck drivers, there wouldn’t be life-saving medical supplies delivered in times of need.
Truckers are truly our everyday heroes without capes.
Truck drivers are the nameless, faceless workers that keep the United States of America going. That’s why it’s such a shame that truckers have been given a negative reputation.
These everyday heroes that keep our country up and running have suffered over the last few decades by negative connotations and bad press. First of all, why do truck drivers have a bad reputation, and secondly, what can we do to fix it?
Why Do Truck Drivers have a Bad Reputation?
Several decades ago, truck drivers were thought of as “good ole’ American boys” – the western image of a hard-working man exploring our vast country came to mind.
Today, truck drivers are thought of as criminals, druggies, and low lives – and the majority of truckers are quite the opposite. Where did this negative imagery come from?
Sex Trafficking and “Lot Lizards”
Truck stops have become hot spots for sex trafficking. The remoteness of truck stops along with the “transient” customer base has made these locations perfect for traffickers seeking to profit from victims (National Human Trafficking Hotline).
The trafficking is generally advertised through CB radio, used by truckers.
The victims, or girls who are forced to be in the sex trade, are known as “Lot Lizards” in the trucking community (Shared Hope International).
While there’s an unfortunate group of truck drivers who participate in this vile crime, there are more truckers who are fighting to stop it and bring justice for these young women.
TheNew York Timesreports that truckers, often seen only as potential customers, are now using their closeness to the sex trafficking to help the victims.
Drugs to Stay Awake
Reuters reported on a study completed in October 2013 where about 3% of drivers admitted to using cocaine while driving. This study was not just of the United States – it covered many other countries like Thailand, Brazil, and Norway.
It is said that cocaine can help drivers get through a shift, helping them stay on the road longer, which ultimately helps them make more money.
In any industry, you’ll have the select few that try to get ahead in any way they can. Take college students, for example, who take Adderall to stay up all night and study (Futurity.org).
Even though truck drivers are required to pass drug testing in order to be on the road, the general population hears stories of Meth-LSD-coke addicts on the road, and these select few put a bad name on the rest of the honest drivers.
There are dozens of stories of truck drivers being convicted of or being accused of being serial killers. From Bruce Mendenhall in 2018 to Samual Legg in 2019, it seems that every time you turn around, a new story emerges of a trucker on a killing spree.
The FBI concluded that the trucking profession is a convenient one for serial killers, who can easily pick up victims and throw them out along their long-haul journey to another state.
Because trucking is so convenient for killers, it attracts them, and this sheds a negative light on the rest of the hard-working truckers who are trying to make an honest living.
Disrespectful Driving Habits and Accidents
While sex trafficking, drug use, and serial killers have all shed a negative light on the trucking industry, many truckers have adopted disrespectful driving habits that everyday people experience for themselves.
Whether it’s cutting off a car to switch lanes, speeding up and slowing down, or swerving in and out of your lane, driving without being mindful of the cars around you gives all truckers a negative reputation.
Beyond disrespectful driving habits, accidents also play a huge part in the public perception.
Every 15 minutes, a person is seriously injured or even killed by an accident caused by tractor-trailers.
Many large trucking companies have truck driving training program, and after truckers finish, they are generally employed immediately. This is a large percentage of truck drivers with little to no professional driving experience, and this accounts for many of the accidents.
Negative Appearance and Manners
When many think of a truck driver, they have an image of a driver they saw at a gas station once. Many conjure up ideas of a smelly, overweight trucker with a potty mouth.
It’s easy to figure out where this public perception comes from – taking care of yourself while being out on the road for extended periods of time is difficult. Plus, some truckers spend much of their day chatting with other trucks over the CB system.
You put a group of men together for an extended period of time, and it’s not hard to imagine the potential topics of conversation.
In fact, Urban Dictionary even has a definition for “Trucker Mouth,” which is defined as “A person who uses foul language.”
It’s similar to the old saying “curse like a sailor,” which came about because sailors often resorted to swearing and spending money as ways to compensate for long days and monotonous time aboard a ship.
In sum, it’s easy to let yourself go and lose some respect for yourself when it requires more effort to do the opposite.
Trucking As a Skilled Profession
Finally, the public perception of truck drivers has fueled a terrible cycle. If becoming a truck driver is looked down upon in our society as a low-class career, what type of people do you think it will attract? You guessed it – the wrong people.
Many people think trucking isn’t a skilled profession, because it doesn’t require a high level of education. However, trucking does require a specific set of skills, and not everyone has them.
Drivers must be knowledgable in mechanics, they must be able to drive in concerning conditions, they must be a skilled driver to navigate difficult situations, and they must be able to tackle tough situations like hooking and unhooking a trailer in 20-degree weather… in the dark.
It’s a shame that truck driving is looked at as a “less-than” profession when some of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg were college dropouts.
Why Should Truck Drivers Work to Improve Their Reputation?
If you’re a trucker who is feeling discouraged at this point, all is not lost. Even though there’s a bad reputation out there, there are reasons to improve it – and know this: your reputation can be fixed.
More Positive Attitude Among Everyday Civilians
It’s no secret that there is excessive litigation in the trucking industry. In fact, a 2018 Florida Justice Reform Institute Report estimated that Florida loses more than 126,000 jobs each year due to too many lawsuits.
Part of the hostility of everyday civilians seems to be the “they need to pay!” and “let’s go after them!” mentality. This mentality is fueled (no pun intended) by this negative perception of truckers.
It may be a stretch to say this, but it’s possible that a more positive attitude towards truckers might actually have an effect on the litigation trends.
Take soldiers, for example. If a soldier does something wrong, the kneejerk reaction is, “Well, but they served our country” – not “let’s go after them!”
If we could change the perception of truckers, it’s possible that the desire to slap truckers with a lawsuit at every turn would subside.
Better Insurance Rates
To keep that thought going, if lawsuits started to decline, insurance rates might actually be affordable!
If you’re a truck driver, you probably realize that today, insurance rates are at a staggering all-time high. In fact, insurance rates for owner operators can range from $10,000 to upwards of $15,000 per year.
David Owen, President of the National Association of Small Trucking Companies shared with Overdrive Online, “Ambulance-chasing lawyers are sucking the blood out of trucking. They’re taking absolutely frivolous lawsuits and running into settlements because of the system. It’s cheaper to pay the fraudulent claim than to fight it.”
More Interest In the Trucking Profession
If trucking was looked at as the important, respectful career choice that we believe it is, there would be more respect for this profession. That means there would be younger individuals looking to become drivers – and perhaps women would come on board, too.
The average age of truck drivers is 49 – many are retiring, and no one new is coming up to fill their place
There is a very low percentage of women truck drivers – women account for only 5.8% of all truck drivers
The American Trucking Association says that currently, the trucking industry as a whole is about 48,000 drivers short of what is needed (latest numbers as of 2015). That number is expected to grow to nearly 175,000 by 2024.
More Respect For You And Your Career Choice
An obvious benefit to a better public perception of truck drivers is more people would respect and appreciate your career choice.
The days of people trying to slam on their breaks in front of truckers might finally be gone. The days of raised eyebrows and concerning looks when you announce your truck driving profession would be over.
Instead, people would congratulate you on your new endeavor and thank you for providing such a valuable service to this country.
How to Fix the Negative Reputation of Truckers
So, there is a negative reputation of truck drivers, and there is plenty of reason to try to restore it. But… how?
Improve Your Own Attitude About Trucking
How can we ask others to respect trucking as a profession if we don’t respect it ourselves?
If you see your career as an important part of this country’s economy, you can start to develop a pride for it. And when you really care about your career choice, your attitude – and your outward behavior – starts to change.
For example, perhaps you’d start to dress a bit nicer. While you do have the option to drive in sweatpants and a hoodie, a driver who covets his job will choose to show up for work in slacks and a polo.
That outward appearance might seem small, but it immediately starts to change the public perception of what it means to be a truck driver.
Put Effort Into Your Public Image
Improving your attitude and taking pride in your trucking job does transfer over to your appearance as we mentioned above.
However, going a step further and keeping top-notch personal hygiene and even speaking more professionally can have a big impact.
We have drivers who show up every single day wearing professional clothing, smelling fresh and clean, and speaking respectfully to customers. Those customers start to request these drivers by name, which not only makes drivers feel important – which they are – but it’s job security and even better rates.
When you can show the public that you’re just as important as that fancy-dressing doctor or lawyer, your reputation starts to change.
Focusing on DOT Violations
Not getting DOT violations allows you to work with some of the best trucking companies in the country, and those companies have you and the industry’s best interest in mind.
At Freight X, we like to think we are one of those companies. We won’t put a driver on the road that we don’t feel is safe.
One of those indications is how well he takes care of his equipment and how safe he drives.
You spend a lot of miles on the road, and being a safe driver not only protects your life, but it protects your livelihood and the perception of truckers in America.
Drive Courtesouly On the Road
The devil is in the details. By being a courteous driver and putting safety and respect first, the general public will start to shift their opinions about the trucking industry.
For example, instead of trying to pass a truck that’s going 1 mph slower than you – and causing a big buildup of traffic behind you – respect the other drivers and wait to pass until the traffic dies down.
It’s the little things that people notice, and when you make an effort to drive more courteously, it not only affects you, but it affects the reputation of all drivers.
Truckers Are Important!
Truck drivers are part of the foundation of this country.
Truck drivers deliver goods during times of crisis. They deliver Christmas gifts to families. They make sure those in need get life-saving drugs and medical equipment. They supply us with everyday items for our survival.
Truck drivers trudge through terrible weather conditions to keep the economy going, all while sacrificing family time to provide for the ones they love.
Truckers truly are our nameless, faceless everyday heroes. Thank you to all of our drivers here at Freight X, and I hope this inspires you to come together and make an effort to fix the reputation of truck drivers across our country.
For many ex-cops, joining the trucking industry is the perfect
career change. As a trucker, you have solitude, weight off your back
(literally), and some extra retirement income coming in.
Here at Freight X, one of our very own drivers, Robert Crouch,
is a retired police officer. He started at age 18 in a military police
position. He retired as a Lieutenant in 2001 and joined the Florida Highway
Patrol for 11 more years before retiring again.
Today, Crouch is an owner operator for Freight X, and he
wouldn’t trade the career change for anything. “It has been the perfect escape,”
Learn more about why becoming a truck driver is one of the
best decisions this former policeman ever made.
From Stressful Police Work to the Open Road
After being retired from his first career in law
enforcement, Crouch turned on his computer and searched “policework job in
The first result was for the Florida Highway Patrol.
On September 10, 2001, he officially joined the Patrol, and
he never could’ve prepared himself for the shaky start of his first day.
“They turned on the TV, and things were never the same,” he
The shock of 9/11 set the tone of Crouch’s time with the
Highway Patrol, which was full of gruesome crash scenes and painful
conversations with new widows, fatherless daughters, and parents who had to
bear the pain of a dead child.
“I’d have to go to these people’s homes and tell them that
their child was involved in a car crash and that they wouldn’t be coming home.
They’d have a heart attack right in front of me,” he says.
Crouch reported on and processed fatal scenes for years. He’d
hear the last words of a loved one as they died on the scene and would report it
back to the family.
“That’s all I did for years, and it was the worst job I ever
had in law enforcement. I got so burned out from these fatal crashes – I didn’t
want to talk or tell another person what to do,” he explains.
After Crouch retired from the Highway Patrol at age 55, he
decided to get his CDL. He finished his first year and was able to become an
owner operator (per insurance regulations). After he had some more experience,
he heard about Freight X and joined the team hauling Yuengling from Tampa to Miami.
Trucking as Therapy For Ex-Cops
What Crouch discovered is that driving his truck was a form
of therapy. “I had a little PTSD from my previous career. Yes, trucking gets lonely, but that’s the therapy!” he says.
Crouch explains that he was always the enemy – people would constantly
be yelling at him, trying to beat him up because of the news he was delivering.
Trucking has brought him the solitude he desperately needed along with the
occasional interaction from someone who just says hello.
“People aren’t looking at me like I’m the Grim Reaper anymore. I like to talk to people again,” he says.
For Crouch, trucking has been the perfect escape.
Traveling the Country During Your Second Career
The statue of liberty, the Grand Canyon, Hollywood, the
desert, the great plains – Crouch wanted to see it all. So he did.
“I drove everywhere, I slept in the desert… I did it all. These are opportunities I would’ve never
had if I hadn’t become a truck driver,” says Crouch.
He has the freedom to go wherever he wants – while being
paid, an unneeded but welcome perk, he says.
Ultimately, Crouch chose trucking for the solitude, and what
better way to be alone and make yourself whole again than to see our beautiful
country while you’re at it?
Getting Rid of the Police Gear
Sometimes, it’s the little things. Or in this case, the
Law enforcement professionals have to haul around very heavy
materials as part of their gear. You have a bulletproof vest along with
everything that goes on the 20-pound belt, like handcuffs, radios, protection
devices, firearms, etc.
“I developed some back problems,” says Crouch. “By not
carrying that stuff around anymore, I feel so much better.”
Crouch is also relieved to be out of the small squad car,
which he says was the pinnacle of distracted driving.
“You have a laptop basically in your lap, calls are being
updated on the screen, you have to watch the updates, and you’re driving with lights
and a siren on… it’s distracted driving on steroids. It’s crazy.”
At one point, Crouch recalls being told that they’d be
adding a dash cam and a bodycam… “I just said that’s it. I can’t wear any more stuff! I’ll be a robot, you know?”
Another perk of being a truck driver? Less sweat!
“Those kevlar vests were so hot! You’d come home drenched at
the end of the day. Trucking is the
lowest stress job I can think of,” he says.
Crouch can talk to his friends all day on the phone, he can
sleep in the back of his truck when he wants, and if doesn’t want to talk to
anyone, he doesn’t have to.
“The greatest part of it all? I never have to tell a human being what they should be doing.”
Becoming an Owner Operator After Retiring from Law Enforcement
Crouch decided to become an owner operator, which means he
owns his own business.
“Aaron and Freight X has been great with me. Not once have they
said to me, “It’s time to get back to work!”
Crouch says that as an owner operator, he’s in control of his
own destiny, which is one of the major draws of being a trucker.
The Finances of Going from Cop to Trucker
For Crouch, the money had nothing to do with his decision to
become a truck driver – it was the therapy.
“I have two pensions coming in from both of those jobs. I’m
set. My wife is set to draw Social Security this year… I don’t need to do this.
But I am,” he says.
In addition to the therapeutic nature of being out on the
open road, Crouch says that the job itself is fulfilling. He feels like a productive
member of society as he delivers all of these goods that make people’s lives
For example, Crouch runs FEMA loads whenever he can. “When
the hurricanes come through, I can deliver bottled water and MREs to people in
need. I still feel fulfilled by this job, you know?”
Yes, he’s being paid for the work, but he also knows he’s doing good for people who really need
Escaping the Politics of Law Enforcement
If you’re in the police force or are retired from it, you
know that you’re an extension of the government.
“You’re the scapegoat. If the city wants to cut their
budget, they usually look at the police department. If they want more revenue,
they tell you to write more tickets… police
work has a lot of dynamics linked right into politics,” he says.
With driving, Crouch
says all he has to worry about is his logs.
Hours of Service as a Truck Driver
Crouch says there aren’t really any rules in police work as
far as hours of service goes.
“You can stay in that squad car as long as you want. I
worked 16 hours a day often… I’d work a regular 8-hour shift, get a snack, and go
right back to it for another 8 hours at night,” he says.
Crouch explains that these long hours are what a lot of the
rookies are doing to make ends meet – even today.
Honestly, he can’t quite get used to the 10-hour break,
because he’s not used to taking that much time off.
“I’ll watch my timer tick away and think, ‘Man, when do I get to start driving again?’”
In the end, every person has their own ambition after they
retire from law enforcement.
Trucking isn’t one-size fits all.
“It’s a special person that goes back into trucking.” –Robert Crouch
We get it! As an over-the-road trucker, you sit for hours at
a time and generally only have access to truck stop food or vending machines.
It’s not exactly easy to get fit and stay in shape when you’re constantly on
But there are ways to lose weight and stay on top of your fitness as a truck driver, and we have drivers of our own to prove it!
How can a truck driver lose weight?
We have several awesome, hard-working truck drivers who have found unique ways to stay in shape while on the road.
Go to 24/7 gyms
Robert Crouch has
found that 24-hour gyms are his key to success.
When he has to take his 10-hour break, he goes to Anytime Fitness and works out. He explains that one of the hidden benefits of going to a 24-hour gym is that they have cleaner showers than the truck stop. That can be a huge motivator when you’re not feeling like lifting weights.
“There are other 24-hour gyms out there, too, but just make sure they are 24/7 to the gym and the showers. Some may be 24-hour for the gym, but not all are 24-hour for the showers,” he advises.
Anytime Fitness is also a chain, so they’re all over the
place. No matter what state you’re in, you’re bound to be close to one.
Not only does this help you stay in shape, but they are generally located in strip malls or are attached to a Walmart, so there is plenty of room to park a truck and trailer.
Do driver assisted loads
Crouch also says that anytime he can get a driver assisted load, he doesn’t shy away from it. “It’s another chance to exercise,” he says. “I’m 62 years old and can leg press 585 pounds and bench press 300 pounds. I’m proof that you can be a truck driver and still be in great shape.”
Pull flatbeds to stay active
Maurice Watson pulls flatbeds to stay in shape.
He explains that of course the rates are higher, which makes
it very appealing, but it also gets him out of the truck. When you pull
flatbeds, you have to strap the loads down and climb up and down the trailer.
If you can choose what you want to run, and if you want to
stay in shape, it’s better than no-touch freight where you just back in, they
load it, and you leave.
You have to strap it all down yourself, which gives you a
chance to be active – while making money, of course!
What is the average life expectancy of a truck driver?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC), drivers of commercial vehicles and trucks live for 61 years on average.
The average life expectancy in North America is 80, which puts truck drivers at
a major disadvantage.
However, just because most truck drivers follow a sedentary,
unhealthy lifestyle doesn’t mean that all do.
Is truck driving bad for your health?
Statistically speaking, truck drivers face more health risks
than the average American. Most of these risks are directly related to being
overweight or obese.
These health risks include type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea,
heart disease, cancer, joint and back pain, and stroke.
However, just because truck drivers are more likely to have health conditions doesn’t mean that truck driving is bad for your health. By going against the grain and finding unique ways to be active and make healthier eating choices, truck driving can be a lucrative and long-lasting career.
How many calories does a truck driver burn in a day?
Because most truck drivers spend their hours sitting behind
the wheel, they burn less calories per day than you might think.
Even if you’re not going for jogs, the simple act of sitting
down, getting up, walking to the kitchen, going from your car to the store – it
all adds up. When you take that movement out of your day, you’re burning the
minimum amount of calories that your body needs.
For truck drivers who don’t find ways to be active, they’re burning their energy via the basal metabolism, or energy used for your body’s basic needs while you’re at rest.
What’s your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)?
To find out what your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is – or how many calories you burn in a day just by sitting there – you can plug in your age, gender, height, and weight into this BMR calculator.
Thanks to some studying by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we know that the average truck driver is a 55-year-old man. If we plug in the average height of a man – 5’10” – and assume that he is obese at 250 pounds (since almost 70% of truck drivers are), here’s what we can guess.
The average truck
driver burns around 1,975 calories per day.
If that same truck driver ate more than 1,975 calories per
day and did not find a way to exercise, he would gain weight.
What’s a good diet for a truck driver?
Finding ways to eat healthy when fast food and gas station options are all you have can be a major challenge.
However, it’s not impossible, and there are a variety of tools to help you eat healthier at truck stops.
Smartphone app that can help truck drivers lose weight
For starters, the smartphone app MyFitnessPal can help you count your calories. Let’s say you’re at Wendy’s. You can open up the app, search “Wendy’s,” and see how many calories all of the options on the menu are.
Now that you can see the options, you might choose the 260-calorie Grilled Chicken Go Wrap over the 940-calorie Baconator.
Even gas station food is available on MyFitnessPal, making it easier than ever to make a smart food choice. For example, you may go for the 440-calorie egg salad sandwich versus the 700-calorie burger at Flying J.
Even cutting out the soda can have a huge impact on your overall calorie count, with a large coke from McDonalds being nearly 300 calories.
Choose lower calorie options at truck stops and fast food joints
You can also make better diet decisions by utilizing some of the recommendations online.
For example, Healthline has an article with 10 healthy food options from some popular fast food restaurants. Some great options include a burrito from Chipotle, grilled chicken nuggets from Chick-fil-A, any of the salad options from McDonald’s, or a whole grain sandwich from Subway.
Weight Watchers for truck drivers
Another option is trying out Weight Watchers. Note that this is a paid service, and you can do the “free” version by counting your own calories. However, if you want the structure that being a part of something provides, many truck drivers have found Weight Watchers to be a life saver.
Just because you’re on the road doesn’t mean you have to ditch a healthy diet. A good diet for a truck driver is one that’s thoughtful and accounted for.
Pack your own food when you’re headed out
Another alternative is packing your own food. Bring an electric hot plate or grill to cook your own food. Many trucks have refrigerators in them, allowing you to bring along some ingredients.
Eating out when the only options are fast food can make it really hard – even when there are healthier options. We all get tempted!
Some of our drivers like to cook eggs for breakfast, and low-carb
meals are easy to make on the go.
If you can take the extra 30 seconds to count your calories, you’re one step closer to either maintaining or losing weight as a truck driver.
How can I be a healthy truck driver?
To sum it all up, losing weight and staying in shape as a
truck driver is the same way the rest of us are doing it.
Keep track of your calories and move more.
The trucking industry is unique by nature, but if there’s a
will, there’s certainly a way.
How are you staying in shape as a truck driver? We want to hear from you! Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
Freight X, LLC is a transportation company with terminals in Georgia and Florida. We run freight of all kinds and have the capacity to run reefer or flatbed loads. We are always recruiting new drivers, so please contact us if you’re interested in joining the team.