Large trucks – big rigs, semis, tractor trailers, and other large commercial trucks – need professional drivers willing to spend hours behind the wheel, for days at a time, maneuvering these huge machines from place to place, delivering freight all across the country. Maybe you’ve heard the old adage, “if you bought it, a truck brought it.”
In 2011, the American trucker on the road moved $603.9 billion in freight, which is more than 80% of all freight transportation revenue: most cargo moved in this country is moved by a big rig semi truck.
Professional Truck Drivers Are Skilled at Driving These Huge, Heavy Machines at High Speeds
Not just anyone can drive these vehicles; special training from professional driving schools is needed before a truck driver is allowed out on the road. In August 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 13,828,000 professional truck drivers doing their job to get cargo delivered on time, moving products to sellers so that we, the consumers, could freely purchase and use everything from strawberries to bowling balls.
For trucking families, life with a husband or wife out on the road so much means lots of time away from home, with families separated by time and distance as the trucker does his or her job. Another reality in the trucking industry is that trucking companies, juggling rising prices and increasing regulation, have been arguing that their profits margins are getting smaller and smaller. The result? Trucking teams, also known as drive teams.
Trucking teams or drive teams happen when two drivers team together to drive the rig, one driving while the other is sleeping. Accommodations can be added to the modern big rig semi truck to provide small kitchens, dining areas, and even showers and toilet stalls. (For some nice examples, explore the gallery of photos here.) Theoretically, this could keep the truck on the road 24/7/365 — something that would make the trucking companies very happy, of course.
Sometimes, these are two partners who have decided to team up for more pay, more time at home, or other advantages of drive teams. More and more often, it’s a husband and wife truck driver team, that allows the couple to roll the roads together while making more income for their family and getting more weeks off, on an annual basis.
For more on drive teams, check out this informative article at AskTheTrucker.
Trend to Truck Driver Teams Means Safety Issues for the Occupant of the Big Rig Semi Truck
With all this movement to a truck driver team, working together to get 18-wheeler cargo around the country, one can assume that those non-driving occupants of that semi truck cab will be facing more danger of a crash and resulting injuries. A recent study, published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis, considers the dangers involved when there are occupants in the big rig cab. According to their research, the number of fatalities and serious injuries to large-truck occupants (not drivers) has risen. The number of deaths of large truck occupants has jumped 3% in a single year; the number of serious injuries has increased too, but not as significantly (1%).
Trucking companies will continue to push for more driving teams — there are all sorts of bonuses being offered for team drivers right now (in the thousands of dollars to sign up, for example). For many truck drivers, this team concept will make sense to them, either from a bottom line perspective or for a family viewpoint, if it’s a husband and wife driving across country together. However, with team driving will come team dangers and these truckers need to be protected in this new team concept as they do their job, especially the non-driving members of these teams.