Retired and want to hit the road and see America but you haven't saved enough money?
That's right. Couples are finding second careers driving 18-Wheelers.
At a truck stop diner along Interstate 5 near Tigard, Ore., Daniel and Becky Ford were fueling up on pancakes and black coffee for the 2,200-mile run to Dallas they were about to make in a Freightliner tractor-trailer stuffed with auto parts.
It was the 10th week on the open road for Mr. Ford, 57 years old, and his 51-year-old wife, who chucked their old life in rural Pennsylvania in May for a cramped truck cab that keeps them moving 22 hours a day.
Their new career is taking them to places they always dreamed of visiting but couldn't afford. "When the money is tight and you have other worries, you can't be too adventurous," says Mrs. Ford, a former hairstylist. "Becky and I serve as our own boss," says Mr. Ford, a former carpenter. "We can stop wherever we want."
This fall, the American Trucking Association plans a billboard and television ad blitz to lure older drivers.
"We just thought if Ma and Pa can drive the Winnebago, maybe they can drive the 18-wheeler," says Tim Lynch, a senior vice president at the trade group.
Since 2000, the number of service and truck drivers 55 or older has surged 19%, to about 616,000, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The percentage jump is quadruple that of truck drivers overall.