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What is a Trucker?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 17, 2024
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A trucker is a professional truck driver. A trucker makes his or her living driving a vehicle in order to deliver specific goods to a specific destination. Truckers may be short haul or long haul operators and drive vehicles and carry cargo classed either as "heavy" or "light."

According to the United States Department of Labor, heavy truck drivers such as tractor-trailer drivers operate vehicles that carry a minimum of 26,000 pounds (11,793.402 kg) Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW). Heavy truckers carry cargo such as livestock and vehicles. Most heavy truck drivers and tractor-trailer drivers are long distance, or long haul, drivers and some work in pairs on runs called "sleepers." One trucker drives while the other sleeps in the area behind the truck cab.

Light truck drivers such as delivery service vehicle drivers operate vehicles that weigh less than 26,000 pounds (11,793.402 kg) GVW. These light truckers often do regular pick ups and deliveries in a certain area or on a specific route. A light trucker may do a lot of loading and unloading work.

A trucker has many more responsibilities than just driving. He or she must frequently inspect the truck to be sure brakes, lights and wipers are working properly and that fluid levels are maintained. Truckers also have to make sure they carry their cargo securely and safely and follow all regulations. Truckers must also keep a record of all of the maintenance done on the truck as well as any accidents they had.

A commercial driver's license (CDL) is often needed to be a heavy trucker, but not always for a light trucker. Different states have different licensing requirements, but those wanting to become truckers always need a regular driver's license in good standing. The minimum age to be issued a CDL is 18 in some states, but since many states have the minimum at 21 years of age, interstate truckers must be 21 to be issued a CDL. However, many trucking companies have a policy not to hire drivers that are under 23 or even 25 years of age.

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