The Petro Travel Center, located on Interstate Highway 10 in Ontario, California, is one of the national scores. In front of the building, you’ll see what road trippers see when they stop by for a gas station or a light meal. Convenience stores, toilets and several restaurants.
But for truck drivers, Petro is a paradise.
It opens the door to kiosks and services that directly accommodate people working in the cabs of large rigs. There is a shower, a driver’s lounge, a gym and a coin launderette. The brightly lit game area features an arcade machine and a pool table. Outside the stop, there is a chapel on the trailer.
“The next 34 hours will be washing, reading, and showering. It’s basically the same as everyone else at home on the weekends,” said Corpus Christi’s Brian Tyson. Galbreth, 41, says. , Texas said. “I’m away from home, but the truck is technically my home.”
Galbreth is one of at least 550,000 long-distance truck drivers in the United States and supports an industry that has been welcomed as an integral part of a pandemic despite facing a serious driver shortage. I am. The shortage is consistent with supply chain issues, putting pressure on drivers to reach their destinations on time.
The industry is also on the verge of major change. The shortage of drivers is reshaping the workforce as the ghosts of self-driving trucks are increasingly threatening to change the way they work. Self-driving trucks are currently being tested and are seen as the future for transporting all types of goods nationwide.
As trucking evolves, there is a risk that the patchwork of businesses across the United States that exist to support the industry will disappear.
We don’t know how many people work in different professions that support the truck industry, but to help drivers and their cargo move from point A to point B, truck washers, gas station cashiers, and truck stops You need an army of administrative staff.
Understanding supply chain crises
The limit controls the amount of time Galbreath can drive up to one minute, which is why he spends 34 hours on the track of a truck stop.
Various federal regulations have been in force since the 1930s due to the dangers associated with exhausting drivers. The current set of rules enacted in 2013 is complex. Depending on the company’s business hours, a truck driver can drive up to 60 hours in 7 days and up to 70 hours in 8 days. Therefore, drivers for these schedules can use so-called reset breaks to return the time to zero. These 34-hour off-duty periods are often spent at truck stops.
“If you’re at a truck stop, you’re almost stuck there,” Galbreth said.
In the parking lot, drivers line up trucks and snuggle up to each other. Their taxi functions as a kitchen, bedroom, living room and office. At night, the driver can be seen through the windshield. Eat dinner, recline on the sleeper, or immerse yourself in the light of the Nintendo Switch and FaceTime call homes.
There are several parking spaces at the light truck stop. In contrast, Iowa 80 Truck StopIn Walcott, Iowa, it is the largest truck stop in the world, with 900. Throughout the country, temporary cities are formed and dispersed every day.
“Everyone has a different story,” said Elaine Peralta, a truck driver passing through her salon in TA Travel Center in Barstow, California. Many students are driving. Young people are driving and if they are in college they do school work on trucks. There are many different age groups. “
One of the most common complaints of truck drivers is the quality of food. With the exception of occasional cafeterias, food trucks, or independent restaurants, fast food is the most readily available dish, with restaurants such as Carl’s Jr, Wendy’s, and Taco Bell dominating the truck stop market.
“I want to see more variety than just fast food,” said Angela Udy, 42, from Bakersfield, California. “I have a fridge, so I buy food every week,” she said. “Mainly fresh fruits, vegetables, yogurt, luncheon meat.”
“I’m trying to be healthy,” said the truck driver.
But being healthy is not easy. Truck drivers face a variety of challenges due to the lengthy time they hold the steering wheel and the lack of nutritious food choices.According to various surveys, truck drivers have a higher rate than usual Obesity, diabetes, Back problem When depression And that long-distance driver Likely to smoke..
How the supply chain crisis unfolded
The pandemic caused the problem. Very complex and interconnected global supply chains are undergoing radical change.Many of the crises Dating back to the outbreak of Covid-19, It caused economic slowdowns, mass dismissals, and production outages. What happened next is:
Another issue presented by the truck stop hood is cost. As of 2021 Average annual income The truck driver was $ 50,340 — Significantly down According to one analysis, inflation-adjusted average wages were $ 110,000 since 1980. Wages can be particularly low as new drivers and independent contractors can incur costs such as training fees, maintenance and fuel.
“Everything is expensive,” said Miami-based Anthony Johnson at the age of 36. “And it doesn’t cost much to keep buying food in restaurants. And UberEats is worse. I’m always spending $ 30 on what costs $ 9.”
At a stop in Barstow, California, a truck driver baked tomosankaku, burgers, and sausages on a portable grill in the parking lot. “Eating three times a day at a truck stop costs $ 75 to $ 100,” said Bobby Parkman, 59, a truck driver in Center Rutland, Vermont. “This is much better.”
Truck drivers may not always be able to enter a truck stop or rest area when they are not working.
In the United States, truck parking space is very scarce.according to American Trucking AssociationOver 98% of truck drivers report that finding a safe parking lot is difficult. If there are no spots in the designated area, truck drivers will have to spend the night improvised and sleep in potentially dangerous or illegal areas such as vacant lots and highway ramps.
A good night’s sleep is essential for a truck driver. Driving a truck is very dangerous and a tired driver exacerbates the problem. 2020, 4,842 heavy-duty trucks involved in a deadly collision — And 107,000 in a crash that led to an injury. According to the Federal Car Carrier Safety Management Authority Fatigue is a factor At about 13 percent of truck collisions.
“I often couldn’t find a place,” said Galbres, who was forced to sleep by the side of the highway due to lack of parking. “You have a car driving on the freeway at 65, 70 mph.”
He continued. “When they run by you and rock the truck, you can feel them. Doing so, good night.”
Truck drivers have adapted to increasing road difficulties, but future issues seem to be more transformative.
If self-driving trucks are the future of American highways, the industry surrounding truck drivers was once essential, including businesses that once served Gold Rushtown, Mining Town, and Route 66 drivers. It has the potential to pave the way for the now-forgotten support industry.
“This is all I really want to do,” said 46-year-old Kevin Lansam, who has been driving for 22 years. “I tried welding. I did a carpenter’s job. I worked in a factory and did various manual labor jobs, and I don’t care about it. So what else? I don’t know if I can do it. “
He added that he expects automation to take another 20 years to impact his work. “By that time, I will retire,” he said.