Life on the road as a truck driver is far better than portrayed

Sir, I enjoyed Gillian Tett’s article on the shortage of US truck drivers (April 9). However, I feel she is mistaken about the educational levels of those in the industry. It is true that previous generations of drivers generally had poorer education. They set the reputation for truckers and it is hard to change that image. But the average level of education for drivers has made quite a leap upward. A large number of white-collar workers were forced into the field by the financial crisis. Many lost their means of living in a split second and found few alternatives that would pay a reasonable income so quickly without lengthy retraining. So now you will find a wide variety of occupational backgrounds mixed into the field — managers, doctors, salesmen, etc. There has also been an increase in the number of women driving trucks and a huge influx of husband-and-wife teams on the road — such as me and my wife. Rhonda and I have five college degrees between us.

We were in the medical field until the hospital we worked for closed some five years ago and we decided to try a new career. We went to technical college together, obtained our commercial driving licences and now drive as a team. It is not always an easy life. But we have had more fun and made more money than in any previous job. We have seen every state in the nation, except Hawaii and Alaska (most more than once). Most drivers have in-depth knowledge of using computers and GPS systems and tracking weather conditions. Haulage companies often offer generous staff benefit packages, and travel centres have to compete for custom so it is common to find good shower facilities, attractive decor — framed prints and flowers — gyms, even dog-grooming facilities. I feel the article missed the positive aspects of the job that may entice those with better education and younger people to consider it. I believe driverless trucks are way down the road — especially after the negative news in the driverless automobile industry — and even when they come they will be very expensive. It’s not that bad a life, I promise.

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