The Secret World of Big Rig Sleepers
Career Path : Automotive
Like modern cowboys of the endless highway, semi or tractor-trailer truck drivers transport over 70% of North American goods today. With ever intensifying competition requiring inventory on demand, the industry continues to expand as does the performance capability of the vehicles themselves. Since truck drivers spend more time in their machines than anywhere else, the sleeper cabs where the driver retreats to refuel their own energy have vastly evolved into fully fledged mobile homes. Whereas only a few decades ago the expediting truck was a fairly bare bones affair with little thought to comfort, todayâs semi-trucks are often luxury vehicles with everything including the kitchen sink on board.
How Far Weâve Come!
Ask a driver whoâs been in the game a while to reminisce about the early years and they probably wonât wax too nostalgically about the living conditions in trucks back then. Big rig semis were built for utility over comfort and even twenty years ago trucks were designed more for local pickup and delivery with drivers heading back home more often. If a driver was lucky enough to have a sleeper it would be little more than a shelf in the back part of the cab or perhaps the infamous coffin-type sleeper. The industry has changed a lot since then and drivers now spend weeks or even months at a time crossing the continent. As freight expedition expanded in territory, so too did the size of the sleepers. The impetus towards larger sleepers has come from more owner-operated big rigs and the increase in husband/wife teams hitting the open road together demanding more comfort. With the industry facing a shortage of drivers, a market has flourished focusing on making life on the road easier. Truckers in distant territories maintain the comforts of home while being constantly connected. Current federal laws limit the number of hours a driverâs allowed on the road to prevent accident due to fatigue, necessitating perpetual contact with persons possessing dispatcher training at home base.
Around the late 90âs expediters began requesting larger living areas, tables to do paperwork, improved appliances and storage. Cabs have raised roofs that allow standing up and no longer content to sit on their bunks, drivers now often have deluxe stereos and wide-screen TV cabinets with DVDs and videogame consoles, maybe satellite hookups. After the TV, why not a microwave? That acceptance led to refrigerator installations, sinks with running water, even a couch area. Drivers tell the manufacturers what they want until pretty soon the sleeper is an apartment on wheels. With all the time waiting to be loaded and unloaded, truckers want to bring their home with them and indeed, many drivers have just a P.O. box and no apartment beyond their big rig. Modern transportation operations training demonstrates the proper use of equipment within these moving homes.
Visit Canadian Automotive & Trucking Institute for more information on all aspects of trucking, including mechanic school.