“Big Trucks are Scary!”

Interviewing a Non-Trucker about Trucking

Today I thought to have a chat with Ashleyy, a co-worker of my daughter from Winnipeg, MB.

Hi Ashleyy, what can you tell us about you? Are you familiar with trucks, or truckers and do you drive on the highway very much?

I do not drive on the highway very often at all!! I am usually a bit nervous on the highway, especially at night.

I don’t know any truckers nor am I familiar with trucks!

What is your background ? Have you spent most of your life in the city, and therefore mostly city driving, or have you spent time outside the city commuting to work or school?

I grew up in the city and never had to commute on the highway to school. I have a few friends outside the city so I do drive to their places sometimes but it’s never been enough to make me super comfortable on the highway. I would say I only go on the highway once every month or so.

Does the distance to your friends or the weather contribute to whether you go out or not?

Is there a certain type of truck that makes you more or less nervous? I’m talking like a longer truck being worse, or a gravel truck, or a truck hauling a box (van) trailer?
Does the cleanliness or graphics on the truck make any difference?

I don’t mind doing a drive to my friends but I am more likely to go in the day so I don’t have to drive at night as that is when I get super nervous. If it was really snowy or rainy I probably would stay home so as not to have to drive in that weather.

I don’t think I am more or less nervous about the different types of trucks, probably just the bigger it is the more scary!!

I don’t really care about if it’s clean or not, I mean unless it was super disgusting I might think it’s gross and they should wash it. Probably the graphics don’t make a difference to me. Unless I saw like one of those bobbly head things in the front with like a naked lady. Then I would roll my eyes at them. Not that I’ve ever seen that outside a movie lol.

There have been a few advertising billboards and tv spots encouraging car drivers to stay out of their blind zones and to give them more space; Does this help you?
What would make you more comfortable when driving on the roads around semi trucks?

Every time I am by a truck on the highway I get nervous that I am in their blind spot and they won’t see me and maybe try to switch lanes while I’m right there. I do not know where I got this idea, but maybe it was from those advertisements you are talking about.

All I know is I try to pass the trucks and try to go faster to get by in case I get into their blind zone. Also I feel like the wind gets trapped or something so I feel scared that the wind will push the car!

I think what would make me more comfortable was if I felt like I didn’t have to worry about being so small beside them and that they could crush me. While I technically  know about the blind spot I don’t know exactly where that even is so I just assume the can’t see me wherever I am unless I’m in front of them.

Those are pretty common concerns. Let me try to help a little. If you are behind the truck and can see a mirror on the truck, you can probably be seen by the truck. The exception can be when you are right beside the power unit. Every truck is a little different so the blind spots do vary. When you are directly in front of a truck (within a couple car lengths) the driver will not be able to see you very well either. With today’s streamlined trucks and lower hoods it’s not as bad as in the past. I have demonstrated to people riding with me to close their eyes at a traffic light before I stop. Then I pull close to the car, making it disappear, when they open their eyes they don’t see a car until the light turns green and a car magically appears in front.

Here’s a diagram that explains…


Passing quickly is a great practice, but obviously not so fast that will get you in trouble for speeding. Truckers love when a vehicle doesn’t sit beside them for a long time because of the buffeting winds that you were talking about. In slippery conditions those winds can blow a car around. Here’s an example with this. You’re passing a truck and a hard wind is blowing you toward the truck, then you get past the truck and the cushion of air provided by the truck is no longer there and you swerve to the left. Conversely, a wind pushing against the truck will not be felt by you as much until you pass the truck, then suddenly you get the full force pushing you towards the ditch.

Were these explanations any help to you?

Oh that is helpful! I didn’t realize that they couldn’t see you when you were in front of them too! Crazy!

Thanks for your help! Let’s work on some more questions for another blog!

Special Olympics and Injury

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Another week is coming to a close and I have some time to reflect on a couple different topics.

Saturday Sept. 10th is the annual World’s Largest Truck Convoy benefitting Special Olympics. Truckers across North America get together for the Convoy in their own jurisdictions on the same day. Manitoba is usually one of the largest in North America with over 200 trucks. The spectacle of them lined up and then parading around the Winnipeg Perimeter is amazing. Police and Law Enforcement block off the route so we can travel without interference. As a long time driver, this is lots of fun! There’s lots of air horns blowing, shiny chrome, cool paint jobs and kids of all ages watching.

The connections we make with the athletes is what it’s all about. One of them who I took on the Convoy a few years ago, texts me almost every day. She’s amazing and I love helping support her and her fellow competitors. They love what they do and really appreciate our help.

I have many T-shirts from different functions and the Convoy shirts and hoodies are ones that get many comments and interest from people who see it. They’re also the ones I have the most pride in wearing.

Contact me if you want to help with any size of donation to a worthy cause.   

 

Summer is almost over! Seems like only yesterday I was planting corn and hoping for good weather. Kids are back in school, nights are getting cooler and it’s time to prepare the ground for next year’s crop. Wait, I have no kids in high school this year! Crazy, it’s not just the summer flying by I guess.

Every year we lose more of our older generation, but this year I’ve seen more people I know, who are younger, or close in age to me, who are no longer with us.

I haven’t said much about this, but I thought May 10th was going to be my last day. I fell off a load in the rain and landed on the back of my head. I don’t recommend it. It was my 4th major concussion and I had no idea why I survived. I’ve had some injuries in my lifetime and the worst by far is a head injury. Head injuries aren’t easy to talk about and here I am 4 months later just going public now. I still won’t say much though, except this; There’s never a time to give up. We get stronger, more resilient, caring and empathetic when we battle through what we’ve been handed. Life isn’t easy. Some deal with injuries, others with sickness, whatever the case, don’t give up. Train yourself to keep moving forward so when bad situations arise you only know how to keep forging ahead.

I don’t know any other way but forward. It’s what I’ve been taught and learned in my life. I’m thankful for my family and friends and for my boss at LCG Equipment who care that I heal properly. Week by week the fogginess in my brain is clearing. I’ll also give a special shout out to John G, Editor at Today’s Trucking for being patient as I continue to try to write coherent sentences for him.

I’m alive. I’ve avoided death once more. Here’s why I’m still alive; To give hope to others in tough places. To be here for my family who need me, warts and all. To prove that giving up is no way to live.
Off like a herd of turtles…

Typist to Trucker!

Daniel
Daniel (Strubes) Strubhar

Here’s an example of busting the image of a regular truck driver!

I have known Daniel (Strubes) Strubhar for decades. When I heard he was going to become a truck driver I thought I had heard wrong. Throughout his training and early driving career I still wondered if it was all a dream. I knew he liked driving and I had no worries about his skill; I just had a hard time picturing him fitting in with most drivers. Apparently it was a dream, his dream.

Here’s his story in his own words. Enjoy!

“After working in offices for give-or-take 25 years, I have been driving truck now for the last 3 years – took my driver training at 59 years old. I still think of myself as an office person who drives a truck, don’t actually feel like a “trucker,” and apparently – as I’ve been told several times – I don’t look like a trucker! Yet – much of the time I do enjoy driving, and it is nice getting to see, and get a feel for, areas of the US and Canada that otherwise would be unknowns.

Why did I switch to trucking? In all honesty, it was that I needed more income – that proverbial “bottom line.” Even though I have a bit of the explorer in me, I also have no problem with a 7′ x 7′ office cubicle, so it wasn’t “to get out of the office!” But the reason will be different for different people – that was mine.

How did I find the learning curve and the adjustment to trucking life? It was not easy, actually – the trucking world can have the stereotypical rough, harsh side.  However – there’s no reason anyone has to become anything other than what they are! Most of the time you are by yourself, so you are free to set the tone and tenor of your job however you wish.

What pointers would I have for anyone going into trucking? Here are a few, just based on my limited experience so far:

1) Treat the job with professional respect. Don’t think it’s just getting behind the wheel of the truck and driving into the sunset! It is actually a skilled profession – and treating it like that will allow you to be successful as a driver. Do a good job. And don’t think you’re going to get away from computers! My truck’s onboard computer is an essential part of my job. Learn to use it properly.

2) Don’t get discouraged with the learning curve. I read that it takes 5 years before the job has thrown you pretty much all the curves it has! Every mistake you make, every time you bump something, bend something – and nobody gets by without any errors – should be considered as just steps in the learning process. Try not to make mistakes of course – be teachable – but above all, try not to make the same mistake twice!

3) Never be in a hurry. You’re not in any marathon, it’s more important to be safe than anything else. (Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.)

4) Always keep a good attitude – toward your fellow drivers and your company (including your dispatch). It’s a job with many aspects that are going to be totally beyond your control. Find something useful to do with down-time – there will be some, and sometimes a lot! Learn to sit back and be a bit philosophical and/or see the humor in the situation, instead of getting uptight! Being uptight and stressed accomplishes nothing, and can make your job miserable unnecessarily.

5) Don’t let yourself be pushed by anyone into doing anything that you feel is unsafe, and don’t feel that you have to work and work with no break! Ask for regular home time – the truck is not your life, give your family, your friends and yourself the time that all of you need. Despite a truck driver’s often erratic schedule, he/she needs a life independent of the job, as much like everyone else as possible. Use technology, get a good unlimited phone/text/data plan, and keep in contact – just keep it hands-free!

Good success!”