Truckers have to drive long distances regardless of the weather. It could be a blazing 110 degrees in the summer or ice cold during the winter. You would start to wonder how these truckers survive that summer heat without leaving their car idling.
How do truckers stay cool at night? Truckers can stay cool at night with a combination of ways: Using APU (Auxiliary Power Unit), Down Comforter, Sleeping Cabs, or fans.
This is just what most truckers are doing, but you’ll find that some truckers have other ingenious (but practical) ways of keeping cool at night.
How Do Truckers Keep Cool or Stay Warm at Night?
Long haul truckers are equipped with the following items:
- Sleeping bags – the kind of sleeping bags that campers and hikers use for their travels.
- APU’s or Auxiliary Power Unit (to allow engine idling to run the truck’s AC units)
- Down comforter – A blanket for heat and cold regulation.
- Sleeping cabs (for newer models) – Usually comprises of a bed located behind the driver’s seat
Which Truck Drivers Sleep In Their Truck?
Long haul truck drivers are those that sleep inside their trucks for the duration of the travel. They’re often known as OTR (Over the Road) drivers because they drive hundreds of miles across states each and every day. These drivers end up staying away from home for days or even months for one single project.
But life as a long-haul trucker is not easy. Being away for long periods of time is one thing and being able to travel safely in another. These truckers are not going to have access to home amenities such as toilets and bathrooms, so you can just imagine how they have to rough it out when they’re travelling.
In shows such as Outdoor Truckers from BBC, they feature these long-haul truck drivers that drive for hundreds of miles for days.
Where Do Truckers Sleep?
Don’t make the mistake of falling for the trucker stereotype that you see in movies where they don’t sleep. That’s a huge misconception.
Truckers sleep, just like all of us. But they’re not that lucky when it comes to traveling long distances because they often end up in the middle of nowhere when they’re resting. They’re lucky enough to stop by a motel or gas station where they can just book a room for the night.
Truckers sleep inside what’s known as sleeper cabs, which is a small room behind the driver’s seat. Instead of passenger seats, the sleeper cab is equipped with a small bed that allows them to rest comfortably for the night.
And truck drivers won’t travel long distances if their trucks don’t have sleeper cabs because they don’t want to sleep uncomfortably.
Why Don’t They Just Stay at Hotels?
But it’s also safe to assume that not all truckers sleep in their trucks because they just travel local, or where there’s just enough civilization in between them that they’re able to book a room at a local motel.
These truck drivers just travel within the state so they can also go home and rest. If you see a trucker that has no sleeper cab, then he or she just travels within your local area. At best, they just travel during the day and then come home at night.
Truck drivers actually stay away from hotels and motels because it costs money. They’re driving long distances to make money, not spend it. On the topic of reimbursement, this usually depends on their arrangements between their clients, so unless it’s specified, they don’t risk spending their own money to get a good night’s sleep.
What About Their Hygiene and Bathroom Needs?
Trucks aren’t equipped with sinks, showers, or even toilets, so they do their business in the middle of the road, depending on the situation.
Truck stops are spread out across states and sometimes they just wait till they arrive at one to do their business. But realistically speaking, they are hard to find. That’s why some truck drivers prefer carrying an empty bottle to pee into because they would rather pee in the middle of driving than to stop for restroom breaks. Remember, these truckers rely on delivering their payload as fast as they can, and time is a precious commodity for them.
In some cases, truck stops may have diners and convenience stores nearby so truck drivers are able to grab a bite to eat or purchase snacks before they move on.
For grooming needs, some truckers carry a gallon of water which they can use to wash their face and hair, and brush their teeth in the morning. But like bathroom breaks, grooming can also be done in truck stops.
Why Do Truck Drivers Leave Their Trucks Idling?
If you’ve ever been to a truck stop before, you’ll notice that a lot of truckers leave their trucks on idle for long periods of time.
The main reason why they leave it on idle is because they need to regulate the temperature inside the truck. In this case, they need the engine running to keep the AC or heater on while they sleep. The cab insulation is only good enough that it provides some form of being not too hot and not too cold. But when you’re going to a state that has extreme outdoor temperature at night, that’s a different issue entirely because the cab insulation may not be able to regulate temperature effectively.
Sometimes, a truck driver will also have other electronics in the back of the truck such as a small TV or cooking appliance, so they’ll need the truck to power these up. Another reason why truck drivers leave their trucks idling at night is similar to those who buy a sleep machine with humming sounds. The vibration and hum of the truck engine acts as white noise and helps reduce outdoor noises (passing trucks, cars, etc.). This allows them to sleep without getting startled by sudden noise.
What About Fuel Consumption?
On the topic of fuel consumption, a study done by the Alternative Fuel Data Center or AFDC found that an idling semi-truck uses approximately 0.8 gallons of diesel for every hour that it sits on idle. For an 8-hour idling period, that puts you at about 6.5 gallons of diesel consumed. Even with diesel prices hovering around the $3 mark at this time of writing, you only spend about $24 for that period of idling.
Some of the new model trucks are now fuel-efficient, so fuel consumption when idling is significantly reduced.
To help reduce fuel consumption, trucks are also equipped with Auxiliary Power Units or APU’s. These take over for the truck’s main power when it detects that the truck has come to a complete stop. Instead of pulling power from the fuel and battery, the truck pulls energy from the APU so the engine doesn’t really do a lot of the work in terms of powering AC’s and heaters. When the truck is on the go, the APU stops and lets the main engine take over for power supply.
Many states are now passing laws that will discourage truck drivers from keeping their trucks on idle for long periods of time. These laws will end up having the drivers pay a fine when they leave it on idle for a certain period of time. This can be anywhere between a couple of minutes to a couple of hours.
The amount of fines vary depending on the states. First offense will cost around $100 to $200 and up to a thousand dollars for repeated offenses. Other states aren’t so forgiving and will end up fining a driver for a thousand dollars for a first-time offense.
But it’s not as cruel as it sounds. Some states are lenient enough where they provided exceptions into their laws that allow truck drivers to leave their truck idling when the outside temperature falls below a certain temperature. For example, New Jersey allows truck drivers to leave their trucks on idle for no more than 15 minutes each hour when temperatures are less than 25 degrees outside.
Not only did you know about how truck drivers keep cool (and stay warm) at night, but you also learned about where they sleep and where they do their business. Long haul trucks are equipped with technology to keep drivers warm and cool when they’re traveling and when they’re sleeping.
Truck drivers are ready to sacrifice the comforts of sleeping soundly for days or weeks at a time just to make a living, and the ladies and gentlemen behind the wheels are more than willing to do it all over again.