day in life of a truck driver

Truck Driver Life: What an Average Day Looks Like?

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By James Johnson

Recently, we had some seasoned commercial truck drivers at our office to discuss the current industry policies. Our conversation digressed, and we ended up discussing how we start our days. While most people in our office get up in the morning after a good night’s sleep in our comfortable beds, the truckers had a different and frequently contradictory experience.

As an American CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) truck driver, the typical day is very structured and controlled by the needs of the job and tight rules set by the government. So, in this blog, we will discuss an essential aspect of a truck driver’s life – their average day – how their day starts, what they eat, where they rest, how they spend their break times, and so on.

How Truckers Start A Day?

Most truck drivers wake up early. If it is the first day of a new job, they prefer to hit the road before sunrise, between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., to avoid traffic and cover the first leg of their journey. However, if they are already on the job, the time to start the day (again) depends on when and where they took their mandatory break. 

Once refreshed and ready for the road, it is time for the truck drivers to check on their mate – the truck. They thoroughly inspect it to ensure proper and safe functioning of all its parts. They also keep thorough logs to document the start time, condition of the vehicles, and any other pertinent details. 

Planning the route is crucial for predicting and avoiding potential delays, ensuring the consignment arrives on time. Again, the trip doesn’t begin simply by turning the key and driving. The drivers we spoke to reiterated the importance of diligent review of the weather report before departure to ensure preparedness for unforeseen conditions. 

A Day in the Life of a Truck Driver

Truckers also balance their work and life to make the most of the day. So here is what their work part of the day entails:

Pre-Trip Inspection: The day usually starts with a pre-trip truck inspection. It is a critical step in vehicle safety and regulation compliance. They check the brakes, lights, and tires and ensure the cargo is properly secured.

Planning the Route: Before setting off, they plan the route. It involves considering factors like distance, traffic conditions, weather, and delivery deadlines. Truckers use a GPS or truck-specific navigation app to help with this.

Driving: A significant part of a truck driver’s day is spent driving. We already know that there are strict Hours on Service rules in the USA that all commercial drivers must follow. These rules are in place to ensure that drivers get enough rest and breaks on long trips and are fresh and alert to drive safely on the road. According to these regulations, they can drive in shifts, with a limit of 11 hours within 14 hours, followed by ten consecutive hours off-duty.

Breaks and Meals: Planning itineraries also includes setting time aside for light workouts and meals. As they spend most of their time behind the wheel, exercise, and healthy food are equally important. Truckers usually take their meals at truck stops, depending upon their availability. However, in recent times, especially after the pandemic, drivers have also started carrying simple cooking equipment and necessities to cook their meals. Truck drivers must remain healthy.

Loading and Unloading Cargo: Depending on the job, truckers sometimes are responsible for loading and unloading cargo. It can be physically demanding and time-consuming.

Communicating with Dispatch: Throughout the day, truck drivers stay in touch with the dispatcher, who provides necessary information about loads, schedules, and any changes that might arise.

End-of-Day Checks: At the end of the driving day, they often perform post-trip inspections. This is to check for any issues that might have arisen during the day’s journey.

Log Book Maintenance: Because of ELDs, most of the information on Hours of Service is automatically recorded. However, it is a good practice to cross-check all the information and make edits, if required. Truckers always take advantage of this step as it is crucial for compliance with transportation regulations.

As a truck driver, managing time, following safety rules, having the physical stamina to drive for long periods, and being able to adapt to new situations are important. The job can be challenging and rewarding, and it gives truckers the chance to travel a lot.

Trucker’s Break Time – Food and Rest

Truck drivers have a tough job, and breaks are crucial. After driving for about eight hours, they take a 30-minute break. This time is used to stretch, eat, and relax. These stops help them stay alert and safe on the road. When night comes, they need a place to sleep. Many drivers have a particular area in their truck, called a sleeper cab, where they can rest. It’s like a small bedroom right behind where they sit. This space is essential because it allows them to recharge for the next day of driving. Here are some of the things that most truckers do during their break time:


  • Truck Stops: Many truckers eat at truck stops, which offer a variety of food options, including fast food, diners, and sometimes buffet-style meals.
  • Fast Food and Diners: Fast food chains and diners located near highways are common choices for truckers.
  • In-Cab Cooking: Some truckers have small kitchen setups in their cabs, allowing them to cook meals. It is healthier and more cost-effective.
  • Portable Food: Truckers often carry non-perishable food items for convenience.

Resting Spots

  • Truck Stops: Again, truck stops are the most common places for truckers to rest. They have parking spaces designed for large trucks.
  • Rest Areas: These are designated areas along the highway where truckers can park and rest. They usually have basic amenities like restrooms.
  • Hotels/Motels: Occasionally, truckers might stay at a hotel or motel, especially if they need a break from sleeping in their cab.
  • In-Cab Sleeping: Modern trucks often have sleeper cabs with a bed, allowing drivers to sleep comfortably in their vehicles.

Amenities at Truck Stops and Rest Areas

  • Showers and Restrooms: Truck stops typically offer shower facilities and clean restrooms.
  • Laundry Facilities: Some truck stops have laundry facilities, which are convenient for drivers on long trips.
  • Convenience Stores: For quick shopping needs, convenience stores at truck stops stock food, drinks, and other essentials.
  • Lounges and Entertainment: Some larger truck stops have lounges, TVs, and sometimes even game rooms.
Here is a list of the top 7 truck stops in the USA for 2024, along with their locations and some notable features:

  • Kwik Star #1071, Davenport, Iowa – This truck stop has been voted the number one truck stop for two consecutive years, offering exceptional guest service.
  • Discount Truck Parking, Pompano Beach, Florida – Known for its comprehensive services including parking, fuel, showers, and repairs.
  • Workman’s Travel Center, Ozark, Arkansas – A popular stop for truckers, providing essential amenities for a comfortable break.
  • Compass Travel Center, Demotte, Indiana – Features a range of facilities tailored to the needs of truck drivers.
  • Bert’s Travel Plaza, Wellsville, Kansas – Offers various services essential for long-haul truckers.
  • Kwik Trip #202, Plover, Wisconsin – Part of the renowned Kwik chain, known for its quality services.
  • Kwik Trip #1048, West Salem, Wisconsin – Another Kwik Trip location, maintaining the chain’s reputation for excellent trucker facilities.

Health and Fitness

  • Exercise: Staying fit on the road can be challenging, but some truckers find time to exercise at truck stops or rest areas, often with portable exercise equipment.
  • Healthy Eating Choices: While fast food is convenient, more truckers are becoming conscious of healthy eating and are opting for salads, fruits, and home-cooked meals.

9 Interesting Facts of Trucking Life 

  • The trucking industry plays a crucial role in the American economy, transporting more cargo than trains, ships, or aircraft. Without trucks, products couldn’t be moved from rail yards, ports, or airports to their final destinations.
  • Truck drivers don’t have a typical “nine to five” job. Their working hours change regularly, and they often face challenges like bad weather and poor road conditions. Most start as Over The Road (OTR) drivers, spending two to three weeks away from home before getting more flexible hours.
  • In the U.S., there are 8.9 million people employed in the truck industry, with 3.5 million of them being truck drivers.
  • The average truck driver salary in the U.S. is $60,500. Some can earn as much as $75,000 per year, with top earners making up to $105,000.
  • The distance covered plays a significant role in a truck driver’s earnings. OTR drivers typically earn the most, with salaries starting at $55,000. Local drivers earn between $0.43-$0.66 per mile, while regional drivers make $0.37 to $0.55 per mile.
  • Truck drivers are required to take 34 hours off duty after working for 70 hours over eight days. They can drive a maximum of 11 hours a day, after which they must take a 10-hour break.
  • One of the perks of being a truck driver is the chance to travel and explore new locations, learning about various parts of the country.
  • The average commercial truck in the U.S. consumes 20,500 gallons of fuel each year.
  • The truck drivers typically spend over 240 nights away from home each year.


The life of a truck driver shows how dedicated and strong people can be. People’s daily habits are important to the way our society works, even though they are often hidden from view.  The unwavering energy of these truck drivers stays the same even as the trucking business faces problems and changes. Their stories of being alone and making friends give us a new way to look at life’s journey. As time goes on, we need to recognize and respect the hard work of these people who keep the world going.

Editor at YourBestFleet | + posts

James Johnson is a former truck driver who now works as a writer, specializing in the trucking industry. With over 15 years of experience on the road, James has a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities faced by truck drivers and the trucking industry as a whole. His writing focuses on issues such as safety, regulation, and the latest industry trends. His work has been featured in several trucking publications and he has received recognition for his contributions to the industry. In his free time, James still enjoys being around trucks and often attends truck shows and other industry events.

Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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