search
top

The difficulties of the trucking industry

Trucking has for decades been one of the iconically American jobs. If the idea of a trucker comes to mind anywhere in the world, odds are people think of a biggish American man behind the wheel. How many other careers can that be said for?

Perhaps baseball players and the almost extinct cowboys, but there are few others.

The career, though, for all its semi-romantic Americana nature, is not the easiest in the world. There are many difficulties that come with taking to the long-haul road.

It can be dangerous, for instance. Tuckers are involved in a lot of accidents every year, which is, of course, to be expected, since they spend so many hours on the road. But the number of accidents is certainly increased by difficult deadlines that can require truckers to drive very long hours without enough sleep. Beyond this obvious danger, there is the less obvious potential for assault or robbery. Anyone who has passed by rest stops late at night knows they don’t always appear to be the safest or most pleasant places. While they have improved over the years, there is still some danger and discomfort to be expected there.

Another issue is the wages. While truckers make, on average, slightly more than the national average for a single earner, the strenuous nature of the job may mean that isn’t really enough. Truckers are away for days and weeks at a time, meaning families often can only have one earner, or else require extensive child care, which is, of course, quite expensive.

These strains have led to an entire business model that advances truckers their fees from recently delivered freight. This is called factoring, and the business appears to be thriving.

A final concern for truckers is the long-term viability of their work. While the truck and the trucker have long been mainstays on American roads, that era may soon be coming to a close. In fact, it may be sooner than many anticipate, and sooner than much many will be able to prepare for. Already, numerous companies are test-driving driverless cars, and many experts believe, at the current rate of advancement, that truckers may be left unemployed by automation within a decade. Even if that timeframe is optimistic, there is little doubt that the trajectory of the trucking industry is heading towards increasing automation, and so, lower wages and fewer jobs.

While Americans every day benefit from the work truckers do, the job, for all its necessity, does not in many respects show the level of that benefit. With unavoidable dangers, lowish wages, and a lack of long-term job prospects, trucking is not the most attractive business.

On some level, it may be worthwhile to demand more respect and better working conditions for those in the trucking industry, but it may also be argued such efforts are pointless since the job itself will soon be a relic of the past, just like the all American cowboy.

top