For those of us who find ourselves yelling at the slow person in the left lane to move over, you’ll find it interesting to note that truck drivers do exactly the same thing to each other. Sitting up high in the cab of a truck gives you a completely different perspective on the road. It’s almost like there are two different, but parallel universes happening on the highway – one up here and one down there. It’s a bit disconcerting for the uninitiated. But once you get the hang of it, the massive windshield and the height perspective give you an unbelievable view of all the scenery our country has to offer.
From the antelope, horses and cows in the grassy plains, to the mountains and interesting rock formations, we saw it all unfold on a 60 mph (…maybe faster…) HD screen in front of us. The screen was covered in bug juice, but that just adds to the reality of the situation.
Having said that, if you have attention deficit issues, then Nebraska and the portions of Wyoming we drove through today would not be a problem as there is little to pay close attention to…if you know what I’m saying. Which leads to the issue at hand – our drivers spend hundreds of hours and thousands of miles on the road that could easily put you to sleep with its monotony. It’s also physically taxing to drive a big-rig weighing many tons made up of truck, trailer, sloshing fuel (more than 300 gallons) and, of course, household goods. Add a brisk wind to the mix and you’ve got a chore on your hands to keep the truck in the middle your lane.
It’s not easy to drive those hours by yourself in the cab of a truck. Personally, I don’t like myself well enough to spend that much time alone…with myself.
That’s just my opinion after driving my first full day – we’ll test my theory on tomorrow’s drive. And to be clear (…this is for the benefit our award winning safety director) I have not, and will not attempt to drive the truck at any point during this process. I promise. I did request and receive the requisite passenger authorization to ride in the truck, in case you were wondering.
And since we’re talking about safety issues, I thought I’d take it a step further. Last week, Mark Kirschner and I spent time in Washington, D.C. visiting our state legislators at the Capitol in order to ensure that the various rules affecting our industry were top-of-mind. One of those issues are Hours of Service rules. I won’t bore you with a recap of the rules – any driver reading this knows full well what they are. As a company, we believe strongly in a culture of safety both for our drivers and for the people with whom they share the road. The rules are there for good reasons.
However, I am now keenly aware of the planning that drivers must do to ensure they meet their hours-of-service driving requirements. It’s not a simple task to plan out a trip based on load and delivery spreads, customer expectations, customer reality and then unforeseen circumstances. For example, one of the issues we discussed with our state representatives is the oversight in the regulations that makes it difficult for drivers to get their trucks out of their customer’s neighborhoods and to a safe place where they can spend the night if their driving hours for the day are used up. As an industry, for example, we’d like to see an allowance that would let drivers to go a certain distance away from residence even if loading runs long for the day. Getting stranded in a neighborhood due to hours of service rules isn’t good for anybody.
Wow – that got serious for a second. But I want to illustrate the point that the word “driving” is a bit of a misnomer when you’re referring to the profession. It’s much more. It’s clearly time management, financial management, people management (remember the customers, packers, movers and loaders) and the plain old stress management of knowing you’re driving nearly 3,000 miles from Salt Lake City to Tampa Florida and then back to Kennesaw, Georgia.
As we drove along, Bob reminded me that our first customer delivery, for Mrs. Bennett in Tampa, was hinging on the fact that she too was making the trek from origin to destination by car.
“That’s a lot of driving,” said Bob shaking his head. And she’s not a professional. We’ll be checking on her progress over the weekend.
On the Road with A.J. is a blog series written by Executive Vice President of Wheaton World Wide Moving, A.J. Schneider as he travels across the country with truck driver Bob Krumpols of Preferred Movers of Nashville, Tenn. He will be experiencing life on the road while assisting with everyday interstate moves. Follow A.J.’s journey on the Wheaton World Wide Moving blog, Facebook page and Twitter page