May

11

 The US is short by about 20,000 tractor-trailer drivers. I have a Class B license for my International dump truck with air brakes. Class A is much tougher to get and keep. Many drivers have too many fines, and trucking companies, for insurance reasons, will not hire those with a bad record. Fewer drivers will restrict supply, thus higher prices on trucked goods.

Ken Smith replies:

My brother died of truck driving. He owned two sleeping cab tractors, one 40' flatbed trailer, and two 40' boxes. He slept in the cab of his favorite tractor, urinated in a bottle, ate greasy food, smoked two packs a day to pass the lonely time away. He got home infrequently for sex and when he did, found someone else had already been there. Spouses of truckers are like spouses of sailors, soldiers, and traveling salesmen. Most of the money he made went to keep his equipment going.

Drivers are sometimes found dead behind the wheel of a big rig that has turned over in a ditch at the side of the road after tearing up a lot of dirt and ditch. Drivers stay behind the wheel long hours, keep two sets of books, one set for the inspectors and one set for real travel time that they get paid for. They are paid by the miles they drive. In the old Soviet Union, officials would move unemployed autoworkers into truck driving.

Drivers don't make a nickel sitting empty in a truckstop parking lot. When you own your own equipment the job is better but still a hassle waiting for a dispatcher to give you a load or a half load. I don't doubt there is a shortage of qualified drivers — if they can get something else they will; except for guys and dolls addicted to that lifestyle, as traders are addicted to what they do.


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