By Andrew Morkes

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Copyright © 2023 by Mason Crest, an imprint of National Highlights, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Printed in the United States of America First printing 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Series ISBN: 978-1-4222-4666-5 Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4222-4673-3 ebook ISBN: 978-1-4222-7149-0 Cataloging-in-Publication Data on file with the Library of Congress Developed and Produced by National Highlights, Inc. Editor: Andrew Morkes Cover and Interior Design: Tara Raymo • CreativelyTara Layout: Priceless Digital Media, LLC Publisher’s Note: Websites listed in this book were active at the time of publication. The publisher is not responsible for websites that have changed their address or discontinued operation since the date of publication. The publisher reviews and updates the websites each time the book is reprinted.

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Introduction ................................................................................. 6 Chapter 1: What Do Truck and Transportation Drivers Do? .............................................................. 11 Chapter 2: Terms of the Trade ................................................. 28 Chapter 3: How to Become a Professional Driver ................. 35 Chapter 4: Interviews ............................................................... 46 Chapter 5: Exploring a Career as a Professional Driver ............................................ 53 Chapter 6: The Future of Transportation and Careers ............................................................. 65 Further Reading and Internet Resources ............................... 74 Index . .......................................................................................... 75 Credits..........................................................................79 Author’s Biography ................................................................... 80 K E Y I C O N S T O L O O K F O R : Words to Understand: These words with their easy-to-understand definitions will increase the reader’s understanding of the text while building vocabulary skills. Sidebars: This boxed material within the main text allows readers to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspectives by weaving together additional information to provide realistic and holistic perspectives. Educational Videos: Readers can view videos by scanning our QR codes, providing them with additional educational content to supplement the text. Examples include news coverage, moments in history, speeches, iconic sports moments, and much more! Text-Dependent Questions: These questions send the reader back to the text for more careful attention to the evidence presented there. Research Projects: Readers are pointed toward areas of further inquiry connected to each chapter. Suggestions are provided for projects that encourage deeper research and analysis.


Infrastructure careers provide a variety of good-paying opportunities that often have lower formal educational barriers than other occupations. The word infrastructure might seem exotic to you, but did you know that you use infrastructure every day? Each time you take a drink of water, use your smartphone, turn on the heat or air conditioning, switch on the lights, or take a trip on a local street or highway, you are utilizing infrastructure. There are actually two types of infrastructure. Hard infrastructure consists of all of the physical things (transportation, energy, water, telecommunications, and similar systems) that are necessary for the functioning of a safe and productive nation. Soft infrastructure refers to the educational system, law enforcement, emergency services, the health-care system, government agencies, and the financial system. These are needed to maintain the economic, physical, health, cultural, and social standards of a population. This series mainly focuses on hard infrastructure, but you will also see how hard and soft infrastructure work in tandem for the well-being of people. Although infrastructure is very important to the success of any country, a considerable amount of the infrastructure in the United States and other countries is in fair, or even poor, shape. Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers publishes a Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. It assigns letter grades based on the physical condition of US infrastructure, and the needed investments for improvement. Its 2021 report awarded a C- to the United States. If you received C- in school, your parents might sigh and tell you to get back to work. And that’s what the US federal government did (at least the work part), passing a whopping $1.2 trillion bill for funding to fix and/or expand roads, bridges, public transit systems, ports, waterways, and passenger and freight rail systems; expand


broadband internet access; and help states and cities prepare for and respond to droughts, wildfires, climate change, and other environmental challenges. Excellent demand exists for workers in many infrastructure careers. These are the people who fix roads, bridges, and ports, and build new ones; ensure that water is delivered to communities, and treat the wastewater created by people and businesses; build, maintain, and repair systems that distribute energy, and provide telecommunications services; move people in buses, trains, and planes; and perform a variety of other hands-on work. But infrastructure careers are not just for those who like to build or fix things, or transport goods and people. There are opportunities for construction and other types of managers; logistics professionals; building, bridge, and other types of inspectors; engineers and scientists; and workers in administrative, financial, human resources, and other supporting fields. You probably already know someone who works in infrastructure. More than 17.2 million people (or more than one in every 10 workers) are employed in an infrastructure career in the United States, according to research from the Brookings Institution. This is where you come in. The infrastructure industry needs you because there is a shortage of workers in many infrastructure careers. This has occurred for two main reasons: 1. In the United States, there has been a push for decades to encourage high school students to earn bachelor’s degrees (go to college). It’s a misconception that a college degree is the only path to a comfortable life. 2. A societal misconception exists, where people believe that workers in many infrastructure careers (excluding scientists, engineers, and managers) do not earn high incomes.


Let’s take a look at both of these misconceptions, get the facts, and learn how careers in infrastructure are an excellent path to a comfortable middle-class life. There are many quality careers (both inside and outside the infrastructure sector) that do not require a bachelor’s degree or higher for entry. Many infrastructure professionals have associate degrees, postsecondary diplomas, or even high school diplomas. In fact, 53.4 percent of infrastructure workers have a high school diploma or less, according to the Brookings Institution. This is a much higher percentage of workers in all jobs (31.7 percent) who only have a high school diploma. Many infrastructure careers require training via an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship program is a great option because it provides both classroom and hands-on training to students. It also offers pay while you learn. As a new apprentice, you’ll start out at a salary that is about 45 to 65 percent of what an experienced worker earns, and then get pay raises as you learn more and develop your skills and knowledge. Nothing beats earning while learning! Some people who work in infrastructure obtained training by serving in the military. They were educated to be civil engineering technicians, plumbers, electricians, and workers in many other professions. Those who are in the military also receive a salary while they learn. After you leave the military, it is relatively easy to land a job. Many employers seek out former members of the military because they have a reputation for being disciplined, working hard, following instructions, and being diligent in their work. Some companies even have military-to-civilian worker programs to recruit veterans. The second stereotype about many infrastructure careers is that they do not pay well. Again, this is untrue. There are low-paying jobs in any field, but the majority of infrastructure careers pay salaries that are equal to or higher than the average salary for all workers. For example, the median annual wage for all construction and


extraction occupations is $48,610, according to the US Department of Labor (USDL). That salary is higher than the median annual wage ($41,950) for all careers. Median annual earnings for workers in installation, maintenance, and repair occupations are $48,750, which is also higher than the median annual wage for all careers. In addition to good pay and less-demanding educational requirements (and options to earn while you learn), there are many other good reasons to consider pursuing a career in infrastructure. Some of those compelling grounds include the following: • availability of jobs throughout the country, from large cities and suburbs to small towns and rural areas • availability of a large number of jobs because the field is so large • transferability of skill sets to different positions in infrastructure • a growing number of programs and initiatives encourage people of color and/or women to enter the field; these groups have traditionally been underrepresented in many infrastructure careers In this book, you will learn everything you need to know about preparing for and understanding the careers of truck and transportation drivers, from typical job duties and work environments to how to train for the field, methods of exploring the field while still in school, and the employment outlook. Finally, you’ll get the chance to read interviews with truck and transportation drivers and educators in the interview section of the book. I hope that learning about the work of truck and transportation drivers will inspire you to enter this field and learn more about infrastructure, and why it is so important to our daily lives. Good luck with your career exploration!



economy: activities related to the production, use, and trade of services and goods in a city, state, region, or country hoarding: the process of acquiring excessive amounts of a product because of an irrational or real fear of future shortage; also can be defined as difficulty getting rid of or parting with possessions revenue: money that is earned from the sale of products or services before expenses are subtracted; it is also generated by taxing people or businesses semiconductors: products that are made from pure elements, such as silicon or germanium, and that are considered the “brains” of most modern technology; also known as integrated circuits and microchips vehicle insurance: financial protection against certain risks, such as damage to one’s vehicle or the vehicles of others, damage to personal property, and injury to drivers, passengers, or pedestrians


1 Chapter

What Do Truck and Transportation Drivers Do? Truck and Transportation Drivers and Infrastructure At this moment, hundreds of thousands of truck drivers are transporting fresh produce and packaged goods to grocery stores so that we have food on our tables each morning. Others are driving iron and other raw materials, semiconductors , and a variety of other materials and machine parts to factories so that cars, computers, and other products can be manufactured. Still others are delivering packages to your doorstep. And let’s not forget the bus and other transportation drivers who are safely taking passengers from point to point in a city or town, or driving them across the country. These professional drivers of semi-tractor trailers, tanker trucks, delivery trucks, buses, taxi cabs, and other vehicles play a major role in making our world function efficiently. Truck drivers transport more than 80 percent of all freight each year, according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA). An ATA-conducted study found that


Many store shelves would be empty in a matter of days if truck drivers were unable to deliver goods to retailers.

society would literally grind to a halt within a week if a freeze was placed on the trucking industry as a result of a national emergency: • in the first 24 hours, hospitals would run out of basic supplies, gas stations would begin to run out of fuel, and mail and other package deliveries would stop • within two to three days, food shortages would increase as a result of hoarding and panic buying, ATMs would run out of cash, gas stations would run out of fuel, garbage would start piling up in our streets, and freight delivered to train and maritime depots would begin to back up • within one week, personal auto travel and public transportation would stop (due to lack of fuel), and hospitals would run out of oxygen supplies, putting patients in peril

In short, life would quickly fall apart without the work of professional drivers. These predictions don’t even account for the


Careers in Infrastructure: Truck and Transportation Drivers


In 2020: • trucks moved 10.23 billion tons of freight • 7.65 million people worked in the trucking industry • ethnic minorities accounted for 42.3 percent of truck drivers • trucks moved 70.9 percent of the value of surface trade between the US and Canada • trucks transported 83.8 percent of cross-border trade with Mexico

Source: American Trucking Trends 2021, ATA

In 2020, women comprised 7.8 percent of the nation’s drivers—an all-time high.


What Do Truck and Transportation Drivers Do?

inability to maintain telecommunication systems and natural gas pipelines, preserve law and order, and keep our financial systems operating. Professional drivers have difficult jobs, and we should appreciate their key role in the American economy and the economies of countries throughout the world. There is currently a shortage of many types of professional drivers—especially truck drivers—and you should consider this career if you enjoy driving, like a job that frees you up from “cubicle life,” and want to keep our economy running. The Work of Truck and Passenger Vehicle Drivers American Trucking Associations estimates that there are 3.36 million professional truck drivers in the United States. There are different types of truck drivers, which are discussed in the following paragraphs. Long-haul truck drivers are the Olympic athletes of truckers. They transport cargo across long distances. In fact, the ATA reports that most long-haul truck drivers average from 100,000 to 110,000 driving miles each year, with an average of about 500 miles a day. That’s a lot of pavement, billboards, and sitting in one spot! Some long-haul truck drivers log a few hundred miles a day and then return home, but most are on the road for one to three weeks at a time, crisscrossing the United States, or even delivering and picking up goods from locations in Canada and Mexico. Most long-haul drivers operate trucks that have a total weight that exceeds 26,000 pounds (11,793 kilograms) (including the vehicle, cargo, and passengers). They are also known as Over-the-Road (OTR) drivers and heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers. Local drivers operate light, medium, and heavy trucks (classified by the amount of weight that they carry) and deliver loads in a particular metropolitan area or region, which allows them to sleep in their own beds each night. These drivers have more contact with


Careers in Infrastructure: Truck and Transportation Drivers

A driver pilots a specially built tractor-trailer that is transporting a massive Engelmann spruce that will serve as the official US Capitol Christmas Tree in Washington, DC.

customers (store managers, consumers, etc.) than long-haul drivers do, and usually make more stops, too. Local drivers are also known as pickup drivers and delivery drivers . Driver/sales workers are specialized local drivers who have a regular delivery route, but also recommend products to businesses to try to attract new customers. Specialized truck drivers transport oversized, specialized, or even dangerous loads via local or long-distance routes, and need special training (and sometimes permits) to do their work. Examples include those who transport automobiles in large auto carriers and hazardous materials (such as nuclear waste and toxic chemicals); transport overweight or oversize loads; or those who drive double and triple trailers. Owner-operators, who are also known as independent drivers, buy or lease trucks and go into business for themselves. In addition to working on a contractual basis (i.e., they are hired for a specific job, and when that’s over, they’ll need to find additional assignments),


What Do Truck and Transportation Drivers Do?

An owner-operator with his truck.

they must pay for expenses such as fuel, vehicle insurance , and equipment purchases and maintenance. Many independent drivers begin as salaried drivers for trucking companies or other employers before launching their own businesses. Here are some of the main duties of truck drivers: • receive their assignment from a dispatcher, and stay in contact with them during the trip to be aware of any sudden changes in the delivery assignment and to report any incidents (accidents, traffic jams, bad weather, vehicles, including brakes, tires, lights, and turn signals • ensure that their cargo is properly secured by using ropes, blocks, chains, or covers and, if transporting perishable goods, making sure that refrigeration systems are functioning properly malfunctioning equipment, etc.) they encounter on the road • conduct pre-trip, en route, and post-trip inspections of their


Careers in Infrastructure: Truck and Transportation Drivers

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