Food is one of the main products transported by truck drivers. In some cases, food and perishable goods are transported clear across the country by skilled truck drivers. Driving a refrigerated truck (also known as a “reefer” in the trucking industry) requires extra responsibility and job tasks, so it may be a great way for you to take your trucking experience to the next level.
Either straight trucks or tractor-trailers may be refrigerated, so you may get into this specialty with a Class A or Class B license. However, the majority of vehicles are tractor-trailers, since manufacturers often want to get the most out of their mileage when transporting perishable goods.
In your truck, you’ll have a thermometer that measures the temperature of your haul and the refrigerated area of your truck. There is a strict range of temperatures in which you must keep your truck. If temperatures get too high or too low, you must act quickly and decisively to protect your haul from spoiling and get it back within acceptable temperature ranges. This may involve calling your carrier, pulling over while you wait for repair help to arrive, or switching your haul to a working truck for further transport.
Your Day as a Reefer Truck Driver
Your day may start differently from that of a driver who does not drive a refrigerated truck. Refrigerated drivers often have to load their own trucks to ensure that items are loaded appropriately for temperature maintenance. In addition, you must test your thermometer and cooling equipment every day before you get onto the road. You may be paid extra for the time you spend loading and unloading your truck, as well as the time you spend investigating your equipment.
Throughout the course of a shift, you may make multiple stops. Perishable goods are often dropped off at multiple locations in the same area. Your pay may vary depending on how many stops you make throughout the course of a day.
Salaries in reefer truck driving depend a lot on where you live. You may also earn a higher-than-average salary if you drive a refrigerated truck, as you are responsible for expensive and perishable goods. O*Net reports that tractor-trailer drivers earn an average of $38,700 per year. Between 2012 and 2022, they anticipate an 11% increase in job openings (O*Net, 2012).