A long-distance driving job has its advantages and disadvantages depending on one’s likes and dislikes. It’s important for a trucker to weigh both sides to be able to choose if it would work for them.
Asking yourself why you chose to be a truck driver may be all you need to answer to be able to know if long-distance trucking is for you.
Advantages of a long-distance driving job
If you are passionate about trucks and just want to explore trucks, a long-distance job could be for you.
In long-distance trucking, you usually are allocated a truck that you will use for the entirety of your employment at a firm. This gives you enough time to, either fall in love or the opposite, with your truck.
I have a friend who is a MAN maniac, just by merely driving the MAN truck for about 6 years, he can tell you everything about it like he played a part in designing it.
Long-distance truckers usually get to plan their routes without much influence from their bosses. This gives them time to spend learning their trucks.
If you hate driving in crowded roads you may also love long-distance trucking because you spend most of your driving on the freeways which are generally quieter than roads in towns.
Depending on the employer’s pay system, long-distance trucking can be rewarding. The basic plus overtime is especially rewarding as you get to work overtime almost every day.
Taking an example of truckers plying the Durban-Johannesburg route, they can easily work 7 hours overtime a day. Some employers, however, prefer the pay per trip payment system which they say is fair to their business.
Long-distance truckers are probably the only people who are paid to tour beautiful places.
The Huguenot Tunnel, Table Mountain, The Berg, Van Reenen Pass, Maputo, Lusaka, Harare and the Louis Tritchadt tunnel just to mention a few, are scenic places that I have personally been paid to tour.
Disadvantages of a Long-distance driving job
I am so sorry that we had to get to the cons.
You don’t have to stress though, after giving you the disadvantages, I will share with you how I personally overcame the disadvantages of long-distance trucking.
If you are that kind who can’t go a day without seeing their family you may find long-distance trucking as a no-no. You get to spend long periods of time away from your family.
Many long-distance truckers in South Africa are loners of note considering that the majority of loads don’t require an assistant you often get to travel alone. Such times are too stressful for some drivers to the extent that they may even opt to change jobs.
Not all employers pay basic plus overtime, some opt for the pay per trip system. With this system if the wheel stops turning, so does your pay hence even delays beyond your control will cost you.
Delays at pickup points, especially at Transet Port Terminals where drivers sometimes spent over 24 hours waiting to load or offload, cost the driver because he won’t be paid during that time.
Such delays often force truckers to try and cover-up by driving for longer hours thereby risking being fatigued.
The risk of fatigue is genuine, considering the loneliness, the hot temperatures in our country and the long stretches of highways you get to drive on.
Overcoming long-distance driving job disadvantages
Overcoming the cons of long-distance trucking is not an easy thing but if you are disciplined you can make it.
Each boss that I worked for, knew that I should get one weekend off from work. On that weekend I would take my family out and give them a hundred percent attention, no cellphones and anything that may distract me.
Identifying our next outing is the family’s duty, I just have to make sure funds are available and I am in the right mood to spoil them. When you leave for work they won’t worry you about coming back sooner until the next weekend off comes. The result is you work at peace and sooner than you think, you are already with them on another outing.
Once in a while I would ask my boss for permission to take my wife along on a trip – don’t overdo it, for obvious reasons.
To cure the loneliness, my friend always takes with him his pet, a beautiful Pomeranian dog.
“She is the most beautiful thing in my life, I am never alone when Peggy is with me,” he always says.
What has been your experience?