Starting a new truck driving career is always exciting. Many truckers enjoy the freedom of the open road and look forward to their long workdays. Because some long-distance truckers spend up to 14 hours driving at a time, what they wear is crucial. Before you start your first shift after earning your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), you will need to invest in comfortable clothing, a good pair of work boots, and some safety gear.
Recent driver shortages have led to strains on many within the profession, so having the right clothing that is sensible from an ergonomic perspective is essential to avoid causing drivers and truckers discomfort.
What Kind of Clothes Do Truck Drivers Wear While on the Road?
Your trucking wardrobe will vary a little bit depending on the type of work you are doing, the company you work for, the distance of your trip, and the season. Most truck driving jobs don’t require a dress code, but some companies will have guidelines for you to follow. You may also need to adjust your wardrobe based on your job requirements. For example, steel toe boots may be a necessity for shippers responsible for loading and unloading their freight.
Distance also plays a huge role in how much you pack. Over-the-Road (OTR) and regional truck drivers will be on the road for up to 14 hours per day. They will also be gone from home for several days at a time. While local drivers may have similar outfits, they are typically home in the evenings to wash clothes or adjust their outfits should the weather change.
What Do Female Truck Drivers Wear?
Clothing always comes down to a matter of personal preference. In the trucking industry, women dress similarly to men. They tend to choose practical and durable clothing. When planning longer trips, it is a good idea to bring a few T-shirts or breathable tops.
A typical outfit may include:
- Comfortable, loose-fitting shirt
- Jeans or other durable pants
- Slip-resistant steel toe boots
- High-visibility safety vest
- Durable gloves
- Hard hat
Some female truck drivers also wear coveralls year-round. Even if you aren’t expecting cold weather, it is also a good idea to pack a few sweaters and at least one pair of socks for each day you are on the road.
What Do Truck Drivers Wear in Different Weather Conditions?
Weather plays a huge role in how anyone dresses. Professional truck drivers often face harsh weather conditions first-hand. You will likely be driving in rain, snow, and extreme heat. The clothing you pack will also be different depending on the season.
In Summer Weather
Even though your semi-truck will likely have air conditioning in the cabin, you will still be exposed to the summer heat while working on the job. Most truck drivers prefer to wear loose-fitting clothing during hot weather. Choose a light-colored shirt and comfortable cargo shorts to stay cool.
While it can be tempting to wear flip-flops while driving your semi-truck, boots are a much safer option. Some companies ban certain footwear, and they will notice if you are wearing improper gear when they complete trip inspections.
In Winter Weather
In the winter, you will need to prepare for cold weather. Even if you are driving through warmer states like California, Texas, or Florida, you may still encounter a cold front. If you are driving in northern states, you will likely need to dress in layers. Many truckers invest in long underwear, scarves, and thick socks to help them stay warm. Having a weather-resistant jacket and a few sweaters handy is also a good idea. Even though you are dressing in layers, make sure that you are still comfortable in the cab and that your outfit doesn’t restrict movement.
What Should Truck Drivers Wear for Safety?
Safety should always be a top priority when you are on the road. There are several Department of Transportation, or DOT safety regulations that address the unique safety challenges truckers face. Clothing also plays a huge role in safety. Here are a few recommendations to help you improve safety during travel.
High-Visibility Clothing/Safety Vest
As a trucker, you will likely stand or walk on the side of the road at least once during your career. Even if you aren’t expecting to move freight or drive a forklift, you should still invest in high-visibility clothing. A reflective safety vest will make you more visible to other drivers in the area, especially at night.
Protective Footwear & Eyewear
Having protective footwear is a must! While your favorite pair of sneakers or flip-flops may be tempting, most trucking companies will require you to wear durable, slip-resistant boots. Because you will be driving in the bright sunlight, it is also a good idea to invest in a good pair of sunglasses; you will need them year-round.
Thick work gloves are a necessity year-round. You will need protective gloves for fueling, completing truck repairs, loading freight, and getting in and out of the cabin. Most gloves for truckers will be made from a combination of leather and rubber. If you are expecting a lot of hot weather, you may choose gloves made of a more breathable fabric.
The open road is a lot noisier than people think, and truckers are at risk for hearing loss. To avoid irreversible damage, drivers will need to invest in high-quality earplugs. Noise-canceling earmuffs are also a great option.
Most truck drivers will wear a hard hat whenever they are outside of their cabs. Depending on the type of freight you are working with, you may need to follow different Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. For example, if you are driving a forklift or loading freight, you may be required to wear a hard hat to protect your head from falling objects. Bright-colored hard hats also help to improve visibility.
Do Truckers Have a Dress Code?
Most truckers don’t need to abide by a dress code. Many truck drivers enjoy the freedom they have while working and dress comfortably.
While most trucking companies don’t have a dress code, others enforce one to create a more professional image. Having a dress code can create a sense of belonging and inspire teamwork. If a company does enforce a uniform, it typically consists of a hat and shirt with the company logo. Companies may also issue safety gear, such as reflective vests and gloves.
Do Truck Drivers Have to Wear Boots?
While many people wear tennis shoes or flip-flops while driving, truckers spend hours on the road and often deal with rougher conditions than a typical driver. Truck drivers frequently work in snowy and rainy weather, move freight, and sometimes even make minor repairs to their vehicles. As a result, most truckers choose to invest in a pair of comfortable steel-toe boots even if the company they work for doesn’t require it.
When choosing a new pair of boots, make sure to look for something slip-resistant. As a trucker, you will frequently encounter wet surfaces. Slip-resistant shoes can also help you get in and out of the truck easier. Waterproof boots can also help keep your feet comfortable should you experience harsher weather.
The company you work for, the location you work, and the nature of your job will ultimately determine what you will need to wear on the job as a truck driver.