Next time you have a road trip, you'll have a far greater appreciation for the 18 wheeler you're sharing the road with if you read this.
I've followed trucker blogs over the years which can be both entertaining and enlightening. This is fun to read, and puts you right on the road.
I entered the industry in the way many do: with a sense of complete personal abandon and lack of direction. No one enters out of high school, because they can't, so everyone goes in because something else didn't work out. Layoffs, breakups, and prison stints are popular notes of inspiration. I graduated journalism school tens of thousands in debt, and I needed fast cash with minimum expenditures. Craigslist, I noticed, was overrun with trucking companies making desperate pleas. So I spent three grand, earned a commercial driver's license at a community college, and applied to nine trucking jobs.
Trucking as you know it was born in 1980, when the industry officially deregulated. Until then, Teamsters and price fixing ruled the industry. The truck driver routinely made $80,000 a year in today's dollars and was seen, as in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, as a generous tipper in restaurants and in promotional videos as "a good American, a gentleman of the highway, a man who knows his job and does it proudly and well."
Then deregulation brought a wave of shareholders. Competition made shipping cheaper and swept union companies out of business. Companies passed the losses from lower shipping costs almost entirely on to drivers. Driver wages and union membership both fell about 40 percent and never significantly rose again. Driver pay switched from hourly to the modern standard of "cents per mile," a clever false incentive that heaved the onus for all unforeseen delays—weather, traffic, shipper detentions, slow freight—onto the driver.