The public has a lot of misconceptions about truck drivers, particularly OTR drivers who spend a lot of time away from home. This is partly due to our lack of exposure to the general public but the lion’s share of the responsibility goes to the entertainment industry. Films and television shows are sometimes the public’s only exposure to the trucking industry and they’ve twisted the image.
For instance, many people think truckers are ill-educated middle-aged men that can’t converse about much else than engines and NASCAR. Most truckers are intelligent, well-spoken individuals who are interested in many things and can talk as knowledgeably about politics as they can the best truck stops. Many truckers enjoy listening to talk radio and hearing the opinions of people that might disagree with them; sometimes they even change their points of view on certain subjects if they hear a good argument. In fact, many truckers these days have earned a college degree but prefer life on the road to a structured 9-5 job. 99% of truckers are as far from the stereotype as anyone can get.
Another myth is that trucking is all about freedom, that we don’t have anyone breathing down our necks. People think we can drive when we want, eat when we want and choose our loads but nothing could be further from the truth. We’re told what to do by dispatchers, cops, mechanics, security guards, shippers and construction workers. We’re sometimes asked to do impossible maneuvers in a construction zone or at a drop-off site and sneered at when we explain that our rig was not made to do that in that tight of a space. Truckers sometimes have more bosses than the cubicle rats slaving away in office buildings.
A trucker’s income is also a misconception for most non-truckers. They see infomercials on their televisions telling them that truckers can make hundreds of thousands per year and that just isn’t true. Many OTR truckers only net around $12 an hour after paying their expenses. That’s not much for all the work and responsibility involved! If you know anyone who believe those infomercials please set them straight.
You can help fight our public image by merely being yourself and avoiding truckers who tend to fit the general misconceptions. Hopefully enough people will want to correct their ignorance when they are surprised by a fit, polite and well spoken trucker!