In the USA, truck drivers, known as ‘truckers’, form a close-knit community of more than three million members. They are vital pillars of the US economy, because 70% of all goods are transported by road in the USA. Day in, day out, they crisscross the country on the freeways in their huge trucks, steel monsters which can carry a load of up to sixty tonnes.
Truckers have their own rituals and traditions. They maintain their trucks with extreme care, as well as adding their own personality with quirky customisations. More than anything, these road warriors are the embodiment of the American dream, evoking the cowboys of yesteryear. Their lives are based on liberty, travel, and wide open spaces. But the work is hard physically, and they suffer long weeks of separation from their family. Depression and divorce are common. They also face more and more onerous government regulation.
The profession has also been facing a recruitment crisis over the past few years. The industry needs to recruit one million drivers by 2030 in order to satisfy demand and to supply all of the stores in the US. Thanks to this labour shortage, some new truckers have joined the profession. The number of women truck drivers has increased dramatically. They now represent more than 10% of American truckers. Such as Lydia, aged 28 and mother of two. She has a following on social media where she shares her life as a female trucker, and her struggle to survive in this difficult, often macho, profession while finding a balance with family life.
Meanwhile the old guard keep on trucking, despite everything. Men like Gary Jones, who specialises in oversized convoys. Every day he has to plan and anticipate potential hazards on the road, which are more and more common. Or like Tony Justice, who is both a trucker and a country singer. He has become the spokesperson for a community which is still very much alive and more attatched than ever to its traditions.
An estimated three million hauliers roam the roads of Europe, literally driving Europe’s economy. They transport virtually everything we buy or use but the drivers themselves are often exhausted, overworked and underpaid.More info