As our youngest daughter was finishing up high school and planning to attend college our thoughts turned to us.  We had our girls very young and we had never really had a time without children and now we were wondering about our future.  Did we want to remain in our current jobs or was it time to cut the cords and do something crazy.
We choose crazy and over time we quit our jobs and sold our house to move to an area that was closer to many interstates.  We first started out trucking with Bob driving and me a passenger, which worked out fine. Over time we became team drivers and that is when the fun really started.  One aspect of team driving is learning to sleep while the other drives.
The first night trying to sleep in a moving truck was a nightmare.  I was totally unprepared for the noise of vehicles as they whizzed pass within inches of my head.  The movement of the truck from a laying down position and worrying that Bob might be tired without me by his side to chatter away also had me concerned an unable to sleep.  Our first truck did not have a good mattress and every bump would cause me to bounce off of the bed.  My mind kept whirling with thoughts such as; when it would be my turn to drive, what kinds of obstacles would I find, what was the weather going to be like, what was the traffic going to be like, would I get lost, what if I got into construction and the roads were narrow, and the list went on and on of many more what if's. 
We quickly bought a new mattress, purchased earplugs, and learned to relax before going to bed.  We had to change our ways of how we drove and how we prepared for bed and sleeping.  Experience taught me to not worry about what I could not change and I quickly gained confidence in my ability to drive and maneuver the truck.
As a team driver I have much more to think about then traffic, delivery and pickup schedules, and when I am going to take my break.  Every move I make driving affects my sleeping partner and in the back of my mind I know that Bob will have to drive in a few hours and I want him to be the safest driver possible. 
While I am driving I do not voice my opinion out loud about others driving abilities, I listen to radio turned down low, I cannot laugh out loud at a great joke, I have the sound turned off on my phone, and I am constantly wearing a head set to take a phone call.  I have everyone on my phone listed by name so I can voice dial. 
Surrounding me while I drive is my coffee, my waters, any snacks I might want, and my visor that I wear when the sun gets in my eyes.  Everything is laid out to keep from stopping the truck anymore then necessary.
When driving down the road and there is little traffic I constantly search for the smoothest path, I make lane changes as easy as possible, and I constantly look ahead so as not to have to stop any quicker then needed.  It is especially difficult for the sleeping partner in stop and go traffic and traffic lights.  Timing traffic lights so as to gently come to a stop or time the light so as not to stop is important as is leaving gently from a light.  This also helps with fuel mileage.
Learning to sleep in the truck is one of the hardest things I have ever learned and something getting into trucking I was the least worried about.  When we traveled either one of us could sleep while the other was driving with no problems.  What we did not think of was hours of service and that we would be expected to drive a full shift of at least ten hours.  Everything in our power is done to make the ride for our sleeping partner as smooth as possible including the truck that we ride in.
We learned several things to help us sleep and one is a truck that rides smoothly and is quiet going down the road is a must.  No loud compression brakes or train horns on our truck.  We needed a mattress that will not let us bounce and one that is comfortable as the truck moves down the road.  The sleeper needs to be dark and cool to cold to get the best sleep. 

Before I go to bed I often spray my pillow and sheets with lavender linen spray and apply a small amount of lavender essential oil to the sole of my feet.  Usually I will read for a little bit before turning out the lights and snuggling in.  I sleep against the back wall of the sleeper using Bob's pillow as a cushion behind my back and this keeps me from rolling backwards.
Our lives depend on the other getting enough sleep and as good as rest as possible.  Having the best riding truck, a mattress that will not allow us to bounce, a dark and cool sleeper, and trust in the person driving makes all of this possible.

Comments (6)

Linda Caffee

Bob and Linda started their driver careers after their children left home for college in 2000. Bob started as a driver for a large motor carrier with Linda as a rider. They decided to enter the Expedite industry as team drivers in 2005 and purchased their first Freightliner. Both, Bob and Linda have had their Class A licenses since the early 80's starting out driving in the oil field and hauling grain as fill in drivers where Bob worked as a diesel mechanic. Linda worked at the local country courthouse in data processing.

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Craig you are good for our ego!

March 01, 2014 5:02:24 AM

Nice blog Linda and we loved the picture. You two haven't changed one bit.

February 27, 2014 8:12:50 AM

Great blog Linda and I loved the pic too! I only drove team for 5 weeks when I was training back in 1992. I remember it being miserable and I had a hard time sleeping.

February 27, 2014 7:10:44 AM

Great advice for Team Drivers Linda. And I love that picture of you and Bob!

February 26, 2014 8:47:33 AM

Great story and adavise for anyone starting to drive as a team.

February 26, 2014 5:43:27 AM

When I trained, we essentially drove team. The hardest part for me was "adjusting" my hours so that we were opposite-great training. The hardest part for me might just not giving a tongue lashing to drivers who can't hear me.

February 26, 2014 5:28:56 AM