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Long haul trucking usually involves the transportation of goods over thousands of miles or kilometers. Flatbed rigs often are used in this form of trucking to carry such loads as tractor trailers, steel, or tankers. Nighttime usually is the preferred time for transporting such loads, as there generally is less traffic during the night. Since the cargo and the trucks are valuable, the most experienced drivers typically are assigned to long haul routes.
There are two kinds of companies that utilize long haul trucking. Private carrier firms usually have trucking subdivisions within their companies that transport the products that they make. Contract carriers, which also are known as common carrier firms, usually transport the products that are made by other companies.
A long haul trucking trip usually begins with a trucker reporting to the truck terminal of the company that they are working for. Once there, the trucker typically is given a loaded truck along with destination information. Before the trucker embarks on the route, the cargo of the truck usually is inspected to make sure that everything is secure. The truck itself generally needs to be checked to see if it is running properly, and that it has safety equipment such as flares and fire extinguishers.
Every few hours, a trucker must make rest stops. Bunks often are included in these trucks so that truckers can sleep during these stops. When the truckers have reached their destination, they usually have to complete required paperwork. This paperwork usually includes travel logs. The logs can include the location and length of each rest stop, the exact route the driver followed, any breakdowns, repairs, or accidents, and the overall condition of the truck.
In order to become a long haul trucker, there are certain requirements that an applicant might need to fulfill. A trucker first will need a commercial driver's license (CDL). The U.S. Department of Transportation stipulates that applicants have to be at least 21 years old, have vision that is at least 20/40 regardless of corrective eyewear, and have excellent hearing. Applicants also will need to pass various physical examinations, which often are paid for by long haul trucking employers.
There sometimes are additional requirements for prospective long haul trucking applicants. Local trucking experience usually is preferred. Drivers typically have to be acclimated to the trucks that are used for long haul trucking, so they will need to pass various road tests, as well as written tests about safety regulations as part of their truck driving training. Taking courses in auto mechanics during high school or at a community college also can be helpful for those who are interested in a long haul trucking career.
I actually went to trucking school because a local long haul trucking company offered to pay for my CDL training. After I graduated from the school, I had to apprentice with a more experienced trucker before they would give me the better paying long haul trucking jobs.
I hate to admit it, but I didn't last very long as a trucker. I found out I had an undiagnosed heart condition during a company physical and they couldn't clear me for road work. I helped out with dispatching and other office jobs, but I never did get behind the wheel of my own rig.
There are some long haul trucking companies around my area who can't find enough employees. Someone who agrees to go to trucking school can get a trucking job around here the next day if he or she wanted to do it. I'd probably do it myself if I didn't have family obligations. The starting pay is really good.
I know one long haul trucker around here, and he says it's a great job once you get used to being on the road all day. His route takes him to California and back, but he's usually home by the weekend. He drives the same load for the same company every week, but other truckers aren't that fortunate. They may not get back home for two or three weeks.