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Find out if you are a trucker or a mere truck driver (steering holder)?

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You may have heard that there is a big difference between a truck driver and a trucker and wondered what this means. Well, it’s clear that the difference can only be in the qualities of the two.

There are steering holders who don’t care about understanding how their rig and components work and this type is usually into trucking just for the money. Because they possess heavy-duty truck driving licences, we have no option but to call them truck drivers, which is just the entry point to becoming a trucker.

What is a truck driver?

A truck driver is someone who possesses a heavy-goods truck driving licence and is able to drive from point A to B, back up his combination into very tight spots. Truck drivers navigate through very heavy traffic sharing the roads with other motorists who yell, scream and lift middle fingers at them so often without them having done anything wrong.

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What is a professional trucker?

A professional trucker has all the above-mentioned qualities and more.  Passion and dedication are the most important qualities of a professional trucker that separate him from a mere truck driver.

A trucker is driven by passion – not saying he would work for free, he is actually very expensive to hire compared to a mere truck driver. Passion drives truckers to learn every aspect of the machinery he works with. A trucker knows much more than truck driving. It’s safe to say that truckers are unqualified mechanics and auto-electricians.

A trucker does not cheat when doing a pre-trip inspection because he knows if he misses something that may end up giving him problems during the trip, it will be on him.

A trucker will have the hunger to know everything about his truck, he will tell you what the “i” on his International 9800i means, what is meant by a 6×4 tractor, and whether his truck has hub reduction axles or conventional axles so that he knows his rig’s capabilities.

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Some steering holders won’t even know what the “480” on their MAN TGS 27-480 means clearly showing that their job is to guide the truck from crashing and let it do everything else for itself.

Read also: Truck Driving In DRC For Foreign Drivers – Dos And Don’ts

Truck driving in South Africa is full of steering holders, not solely by choice, but because of the trucking company policies which often do not allow drivers to try fixing their equipment when it gets faulty.

You will find that someone who works for a small trucking company doing long-distance knows a lot about his truck if it acts up and he can easily fix minor problems. This is because his employer allows him to check what the problem is before engaging a mechanic as it can be costly to call out one for a small problem that is fixable by the driver. This driver quickly develops into a trucker as he has to understand his rig and trailer well in case there is a problem because he is the first person to try to resolve it.

Meanwhile, in many established trucking companies, when a truck develops any problem, the truck driver just informs the fleet manager then he jumps straight to his bed and waits for the mechanic to come.

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If you are driving a heavy-duty truck and you are this type of driver, even after 15 years of driving, you may still be called a steering holder.

There is no denying it because if we really look at it, you just hold the steering and drive, usually, the truck will be an auto-shift also which leaves you to be just a guide for the truck since it doesn’t have eyes. You hold the steering, put into drive and be the eyes for the truck and steer away from danger and stop it when necessary.

Some even fail this simple exercise of controlling the truck and end up crashing.

As for the trucker, he is not afraid to get dirty fixing a small problem on the rig to enable him to get to a safe place. It’s not uncommon to find a trucker with a toolbox in his cab. After all, you can’t really wait for a degreed mechanic to come and tighten a pressure pipe clamp that has gone loose.

Truckers operate in almost the same way as owner-operators, when their rig or trailer has a problem they know it’s them who are supposed to fix it at the lowest possible cost.

Personally, at the last company I worked for in Durban, I moved with a toolbox supplied by my employer. I would not be stuck with minor problems since I had all the essential parts and tools to fix minor issues such as air pressure leakages. I ended up charging him a call-out fee when I attended to problems on some of his trucks whose steering holders didn’t want to carry toolboxes.

Read also: Top 10 signs of being a bad Trucker

A trucker is always willing to go the extra mile to get the job done. In Southern Africa, cross-border driving requires typical truckers because of the harsh conditions they are required to work in far away from home.

Cross-border truckers have to deal with minor breakdowns, conversing with different people speaking foreign languages but still making it to and fro.

For a trucker, all the steep hills, bad roads, tough cops in Zambia, rebels in DRC, corrupt cops in Mozambique, long waiting periods at borders, and other challenges are worthwhile experiences they hunt for.

Truckers are fearless and take every challenge as preparation for things to come.

A truck driver would usually choose local haulage which allows him to often go home after knocking off. They are also afraid to check for faults if something happens to their truck. A steering holder would rather quit the job than go long-distance or cross-border because of the fear of experiencing new things.


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