This I Believe

Glen - Jemez Springs, New Mexico
Entered on February 12, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe very few people understand what we big truck drivers endure.

Most men and women go through several months of study, frustration and mistakes before they finally earn their CDL, or commercial driver’s license.

Four-wheelers or cars usually have automatic transmissions: step on the gas, brake when needed, and off you go. Learning to shift between nine and fourteen gears is quite different and challenging. Double-clutching is an additional hurdle.

Getting the hang of a 53-foot trailer or double trailers is a whole ‘nother animal, so to speak. Backing into tight spaces at the docks behind warehouses and other buildings takes talent, too.

How many people have seen the orange triangles behind a broken-down big rig? The majority of truck drivers only make money when moving, not when sittin’ still. On-road services usually take hours to respond. Blown-out tires can cost upwards of $300.

If a driver has had a preventable accident, he or she may never find a good-paying job, again. Serious accidents can clearly maim one or even end one’s life. If a trucker causes an accident and possibly takes another’s life, one’s memory may not let him or her live in peace when getting behind the wheel, later on.

Having to stop at every Weigh Station when entering a new State can get in the way of doing an on-time delivery. If a driver is stopped by the DOT, Department of Transportation, and possibly by an insensitive officer, life over-the-road can get even rougher.

Tractor-trailers, for the most, are limited to 80,000 lbs. Each of the three different sets of axles has separate weight limits. The rear tandems on trailers must be moved practically all the way forward in many States. Heavy fines can result for non-compliance.

I believe most non-truck drivers have no idea how long some truck drivers stay away from home as they earn a living. In my case, it’s 18 days out and only 3 home, except for one week of vacation. Many drivers are gone longer, even months at a time.

Next time you see a truck driver acting overly aggressively, you may want to call 911 in an effort to protect the public. But, if you are a person of faith, please also say a prayer for that driver.

I believe the majority of our people fail to understand how we regulate truck drivers, as well we should. One can drive 11 hours, work another 3 hours but not drive, and then sleep and be off duty for 10 hours – all this every 24 hours. Most truck drivers are limited to 70 hours of driving and work in an eight day period. Daily and precise record-keeping is a must and is monitored by the DOT and our employers.

I believe an over-whelming number of us would have trouble living in a small space, driving and sleeping atop the 10 wheels of a truck. More and more cities and companies are telling drivers to seriously limit idling of engines. However, while drivers sleep, they desire a warm cab in the winter, or a tolerably cool one in the summer. This, too, can be maddening if one is uncomfortable and not sleeping well at night.

Here’s a challenge for all of us who drive a vehicle: Be understanding and courteous. Road rage between small 4-wheelers and big 18-wheelers can get ugly, even deadly. I believe none of us wants this.

As for me and my family, we daily, weekly, monthly and yearly pray our way through the on-road times.

I believe we can have a safer time on our roads and highways. What’s needed, though, is a mutually cooperative attitude of friendly survival.

My last “This I Believe” is one of gratefulness. Thank you, all you hundreds and thousands of drivers who surround me and my fellow drivers day after day, year after year. Be thankful to us who bring you everything you want and buy. We are thankful for you, the ones who buy what we truck to you.