Truck driving and family life is not an easy thing to navigate. Most people work a job that allows them to come home to their family at the end of the day. Whether it’s in an office, factory, or retail shop, their work location is usually within an hour of their home. For over the road truck drivers, however, this is not the case. The unfortunate reality of life for them is that they must be on the road for weeks at a time, often leaving their families behind without certainty as to when they are going to return. Such life can be stressful for both the truck driver and his wife, creating many difficulties that drivers must face when pursuing a career behind the wheel.
Uncertainty of Schedule
When a driver embarks on a trip across the country, he doesn’t always have a direct route back home. In many cases, he must rely on several backhauls to move from location to location until he eventually gets a shipment that brings him back to his destination. Sometimes, a driver may be able to set up his schedule so that he has a clear route back. This still comes with uncertainty, however, as shipments can be canceled, reconsigned, or significantly delayed. When that happens, there is no guarantee that a driver will be able to find a profitable replacement shipment that will get him where he wants to go.
Inclement weather, accidents, and traffic can also contribute to this uncertainty. With the United States being such a massive landmass, it can be hot and sunny in one city while a blizzard is ravaging a location only a few hundred miles away. Drivers can’t expect regular weather patterns if they are driving over the road, so they can’t always accurately predict when they are going to be home. They also have to account for their DOT hours of service.
While many truck drivers enjoy the “lone ranger” lifestyle that the open road affords them, the fact remains that it can be stressful to be isolated for such long periods of time. Many drivers report that they miss their families immensely when they are driving, causing them emotional distress and contributing even more to their feelings of loneliness. This one of the most significant difficulties of choosing the independence that comes along with being a truck driver.
Drivers can make friends on the road, and they often do. However, this is not quite the same as being at home with a loving family and permanent companions. They can’t expect that they are going to be creating long-lasting bonds when they are always moving in different directions and running on separate schedules. This lack of attachment can cause feelings of isolation and depression. Most people want to connect with others, and it is increasingly difficult to do so when you must continuously be shuttling off to different locations.
An Empty Home
Drivers aren’t the only ones who are negatively affected by life on the road. Their partners at home can feel just as lonely and stressed out if they are gone for long periods at a time. A driver’s wife at home may experience the same feelings of sadness and isolation while her husband is driving across the country for weeks at a time. This stress on both parties can lead to arguments when he does eventually make it back home.
These problems are even worse if a driver has children. Kids want to be around their mother and father frequently, and they can become very disappointed if they find out that their parent will be delayed even longer than expected. Younger children don’t understand that some things are out of their parents’ control, so they may feel neglected or let down even though their father or mother is doing his or her best to get back home in a reasonable amount of time.
While there are many issues that can put a strain on the family life of a driver, there are also ways to work around these. As with any job, there are going to be ups and downs, but it is up to the individual to work through these and focus on the positive aspects of the job. These are some of the things that drivers can do to reduce the stress caused by their position.
Set Realistic Expectations
A driver should talk with his or her spouse and be honest about the reality of their job. He should not set unrealistic expectations that will only serve to let his partner down. When the partner at home knows that the truck driver will not be back soon, he or she will be more accepting of their absence and able to plan around it. It will take some work, but couples must strive to understand each other and know what to expect in the future.
Focus on Scheduling
As mentioned, a driver can’t always rely on getting a direct route back home. However, he can be proactive about finding the right loads and taking better routes to increase his chances of a timely return. He should study the markets and try to make consistent contacts with shippers that can give him quality shipments that take him where he needs to go. Problems and delays will inevitably occur, but a driver should stay focused on doing everything he can to reduce the likelihood of these occurrences.
Consider Driving as a Team
Many couples share the responsibility of driving. Such arrangement works best for families without kids or whose kids are already out of the home. Operating as a team allows the couple to be with each other and get through the job together rather than being apart for weeks or months at a time. If they plan their routes efficiently, it can also be far more profitable than driving solo because of the reduced amount of downtime. Traveling the country is an excellent way for couples to bond. Moreover, driving together allows them to make money while maintaining a happy and healthy relationship.