A truck driver (Commonly called a trucker) is a person who is employed
as the driver of a truck, usually a semi truck. Truckers provide
an essential service to industrialized societies by transporting
goods and materials over land, typically from manufacturing plants
to retail or distribution centers.
In North America, there are two major types of truckers —
"owner-operators" and "company drivers." Owner-operators
own the trucks they drive, while company drivers drive trucks that
are provided by their employers. Owner-operators can be further
broken down into "leased" drivers, who sign an agreement
with a trucking company to haul freight for that company using their
trucks, and "independents" who essentially comprise their
own one-person trucking outfits.
Being an "independent" involves the greatest business
risk, because one-person or other small operations lack larger outfits'
power to negotiate costs and well-paid legal teams to go after non-paying
customers, but the revenues to the independent are higher than to
leased drivers. Leased owner-operators can utilize the cost reduction
programs of the companies they lease with, for items like fuel,
insurance, and maintenance; but they are not paid nearly as much
as independents. Company drivers just drive the truck, and don't
have to worry about any truck-related financial issues, but are
paid the least of any subset of truckers.
Truckers can also be classified by the range they cover. "Local"
drivers drive only within the limits of their hometowns or only
to nearby towns; "regional" drivers may run several states
near their homes; and "over the road" drivers often cover
distances of hundreds of miles and may be away from their homes
for several consecutive days or even weeks.
In the United States of America, truck drivers are required to have
a Commercial Driver's License (CDL). Although state motor vehicle
departments administer the CDL program, Federal law spells out the
various classes of CDLs and the requirements to obtain one. A CDL
can also contain separate endorsements such as hazardous materials,
double and triple trailers, passenger (for bus drivers), and tankers.
Specifically, the five-axle tractor-semitrailer combination that
is most commonly associated with the word "truck" requires
a Class A CDL to drive. Beyond that, the driver's employer (or shipping
customers, in the case of an independent owner-operator) generally
specifies what endorsements their operations require a driver to