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The Birth of The Professional Truck Driver

Updated on June 8, 2010

The first question that needs to be answered is what exactly is a professional truck driver? A professional truck driver or trucker is a person who earns a living as the driver of a truck. They commonly operate trucks known as tankers, semi tractors, tractor-trailers, dump or box.

Professional truck drivers provide an important and vital service to all industrialized countries by transporting finished goods and raw materials over land. They typically deliver these goods to and from manufacturing plants, worksites, retail and distribution centers. If you wear it, sit on it, live in it, eat it or otherwise USE it then somewhere down the line a professional truck driver transported it or its materials.

In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the trucking industry as well as other safety agencies began a campaign to formally identify truckers as “Professional Truck Drivers”. This was done in part to reverse the bad reputation that professiona truck drivers had been getting from the 1960’s to the 1970’s when the public felt that the majority of the truck drivers were nothing more than fatigued outlaws, drug users, pill poppers, prostitute chasing men who happened to drive a truck.

Another reason that the term Professional Truck Driver had been adopted was because of a new initiative mandated by the federal government to standardize state’s licensing requirements for truck drivers. These new testing requirements were much tougher than previous standards. Truck drivers had to demonstrate common knowledge to all trucks, their operating systems and safety inspections. Potential truck drivers had to show their proficiency in operating their vehicles by performing a road test similar to those taken for any first time driver. Additionally, those drivers who wanted to operate specialty vehicles such as tankers, combination vehicles, buses, and transport hazardous materials had to demonstrate additional and more in-dept knowledge of these types of vehicles, their characteristics and cargo hazards and limitations.

Because of the new and much tougher licensing requirements and the high demand for skilled truck drivers an influx of truck driving schools emerged throughout the country. Community colleges and technical trade schools began offering truck-driving courses to train students. Some of the training was quite intensive often requiring students to be in the classroom for many hours over a short length of time. Some schools were offering graduation in as little as two weeks.

Many of today’s Professional Truck Drivers have completed and graduated from similar training schools. They have undergone extensive training, ongoing continuing education and have completed defensive driving courses. Does all this training and experience truly make a truck driver a professional? Maybe if you look at the traditional sense of the word but professionalism is a mindset that some truck drivers have failed to adopt. Read my other Hubs to find out more!

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