February 8, 2023

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For Truck Drivers Across the U.S., Major Change Is Approaching Fast

2 min read

The Petro Travel Center on Interstate 10 in Ontario, Calif., is one of scores across the country. At the front of the building are the things road trippers see when they stop for gas or snacks: a convenience store, restrooms and some dining options.

But for truckers, Petro is a haven.

An entrance opens to kiosks and services catering directly to those who work out of the cab of a big rig. There are showers, a driver’s lounge, a gym and a laundromat. A brightly lit game area features arcade machines and a pool table. Outside the stop there is a chapel in a trailer.

“For the next 34 hours I’m going to do laundry, catch up on some reading, take a shower — basically just like what anybody else would do if they were home for the weekend,” Bryan Tyson Galbreath, 41, of Corpus Christi, Texas, said. “I’m away from my house, but that truck is technically my house.”

Mr. Galbreath is one of at least 550,000 long-haul truck drivers in the United States, underpinning an industry that has been hailed as indispensable during the pandemic even while facing a severe shortage of drivers. That shortage has coincided with supply chain issues, adding pressure on drivers to reach their destinations on time.

The industry is also on the precipice of a huge change. The driver shortages are reshaping the work force, as the specter of self-driving trucks increasingly threatens to transform how the work is done. Self-driving trucks are being tested now and are viewed as the future for shipping all manner of goods across the country.

As trucking evolves, the patchwork of businesses across the United States that exist to support the industry is at risk of disappearing.

There are no figures on how many people work in the various professions that support the trucking industry, but it takes an army of truck washers, gas station cashiers and truck stop custodial staff to help drivers and their cargoes get from Point A to B.

Restrictions control how long…

Jamie Lee Taete

2022-06-04 03:00:19

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