Keep on Trucking. By Mark Weisseg
My favorite subject next to fast muscle cars is trucks. I spent fifteen years in the trucking business. So what does that have to do with fast muscle cars? A lot. When you have a car shipped it usually comes by a truck. Let me give you a brief education. In the US truckers like long hoods like on a Peterbilt or Kenworth. Overseas truckers like cab overs, meaning the driver sits right above th engine and yes has better visibility. We like gears. Some 18 wheelers have up to 18 forward gears. Some have 13. Overseas not as many. This truck is called a covered wagon. Look at the bed hard enough and you can see it looks like a covered wagon. Fuel economy. A large eighteen wheeler here is lucky to get 6 to 8 miles per gallon. Imagine a large company like the hated Wal Mart with ten thousand trucks getting 7 miles per gallon and having two one hundred gallon tanks on each side of the rig to fill up. Lots of cash of course so they look for every trick to get better fuel economy. One of them is road speed governors. Many company trucks will usually have a road speed governor. That is why you get so angry when they pull out in the left lane and don't pass. The driver has there foot on the floor but the rig may be set up for a top speed of 66mph. They all differ. Now owner operators own or lease their trucks and that do what ever they want. That is why they pass you in a blinding snow storm going 85 miles per hour. They like challenging death I guess. It can be a very rewarding job if you like long hours of being alone. It's boring is in that cab . Sometimes it's even dangerous when you are driving along at 70 mph and get cut off by a Pirius that suddenly stands on the brakes. Try stopping 80,000 lbs plus quickly. Most drivers today have dash cams to help prove what happened while they were driving. The trucker always gets blamed first. Even though they get constant scrutiny. Regular physicals, regular blood work, on the spot drug testing, road safety inspections, and now electronic log books to eliminate cheating. They cannot drive on some roads if they are too heavy, it's tough to park these monsters all the time, and now some large companies track there rigs via satellite. Yes, the driver can be in deadwood Iowa and someone at the home office can track the exact location of the truck. They know the speed and where it's at down to the exact street. They can tell the customer the truck is eighteen minutes away. You ought to see how much license tags costs for these rigs or the high tolls they pay. The driver must have training and on going safety training to keep his or her CDL valid. Did you know that if a driver has an incident in his own personal car it counts against him and his CDL? I bet you didn't. These rigs cost over one hundred thousand dollars to buy. Imagine what all those huge tires cost or a brake job. Oil and filter changes can run 200 dollars or more. Want to go through a truck wash? Ok, minimum is 25 dollars. You eat, sleep, and more in that rig. Want a shower? Got to go to a truck stop and pay for it. The trucking industry is hurting badly for drivers and mechanics right now just as the auto industry is for mchanics. To work in one of these massive rigs you will get dirty and you will work hard. You cannot even pick up a brake drum. They are so heavy that there is a special device just for lifting a brake drum. Drivers who have a flat cannot even change it themselves. Too heavy. They call road service and that is costly. A marker light out? That gets you a ticket. Tarp not tied down correctly? ticket. Load not secured. Ticket and then you cannot move until it's corrected. Lots of things to do. They prep before each drive, watch the load while driving and never want to return empty. That is called dead heading and its costly to come back empty so they call dispatchers to find loads for them on the return trip. And it goes on and on. A very tough business to be in for sure but rewarding if you like to work. The rigs have many creature comforts today such as air ride, air seats, tv, CB radio, some are condo units on the back of the tractor so it has the comforts of home and more. It's a hard life at times but if these men and women did not do it you would suffer. Remember, if you bought it, a truck brought it. Thank you.