Overdrive Extra

Max Heine

A rare glimpse into the trucking lifestyle

| August 19, 2013

It’s hard for those outside of trucking to appreciate what they’ve never experienced, or even seen.

Based in Santa Barbara, Calif., Kim Reierson continues to do commercial and art photography.
Based in Santa Barbara, Calif., Kim Reierson continues to do commercial and art photography.

There are books featuring show trucks or antique trucks. There are movies that glamourize or demonize trucking. But rarely is there an accurate, in-depth view of what it’s like to earn a living by driving over-the-road.  

Photographer Kim Reierson attempted to present that stark, honest view of trucking when she published her book, “Eighteen: A look at the culture that moves us,” in 2007. And sure enough, truckers and others told her they were “happy to see a different perspective” when she promoted the book at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas and the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky.

Some of her book’s photos account for two-thirds of the images in Overdrive’s “Headed home” video. It’s part of our effort to celebrate National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, Sept. 15-21, sponsored by the American Trucking Associations.

You can view the video at the site for Overdrive’s “I luv my trucker” contest. You’ll also find videos and photos submitted by family and friends of professional drivers, saying why a trucker in their life is special.

 

Kim Reierson, whose father Gerald Reierson was a trucker, spent five years off and on visiting truck stops to gather photos, including portraits such as this, for her book.
Kim Reierson, whose father Gerald Reierson was a trucker, spent five years taking photos, including portraits such as this, for her book.

Reierson met hundreds of drivers as she visited truck stops in 20 states off and on over five years, capturing the gritty lifestyle of trucking on the highway, in truck stops and inside trucks. That included learning about truck stop prostitutes and crime, and being mistaken for a lot lizard.

“When you’re a little naïve, you don’t really know the ins and outs,” she recalls, though most drivers would help warn her of potential dangers. 

While at an Ontario, Calif., truck stop, Reierson met driver Tim Young. As she talked with him, he received calls from home – his wife updating him on the latest family news, his daughter reading from her first library book.

“He seemed like a really earnest, into-his-family, loving father and husband,” she says. Reierson had never been over the road overnight, so she took the risk of asking if she could ride with him. “I’m kind of intuitive and good with people, knowing who is going to be the right person.”

tim young
From the book “Eighteen,” Tim Young and his children.

It turned out she was right. 

“It was almost nostalgic riding with him because he seemed to be coming from the real-deal kind of trucking, back in the day, where trucking was more of a family kind of thing,” she says. Tim had a “sense of community with other truckers. Because he was so friendly, he’d talk to anybody.”

The photos she got during her days on the road with Young, as well as those with his family at his home in Flat Rock, Ala., formed a key part of her book.

Excerpts from the book were featured in National Geographic’s U.S. and international editions. It led to publicity elsewhere, too, including an interview with trucking radio host Meredith Ochs and this interview on ABC News, where Reierson and a reporter ride in a truck. 

The project also led to more exposure for Young. Through Reierson, he met Brett Morgan, the producer of the 45-minute “Drive and Deliver” video introducing International’s Lonestar. Young appeared as one of the video’s featured truckers. You can see him in the movie’s trailer.

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  • Barney

    It’s about effin time somebody with no trucking experience actually did a ride along before writing about trucking. Maybe the politicians, and some in the DoT, should learn by this example.

  • RalphMalph

    Sort of ironic when one gives it some thought, the only part of trucking that pays well … riding shotgun as the Photographer !

    Ms. Reierson …. she certainly is a beauty !

  • sneaky pete

    So, your saying all ‘trucking lifestyles are the same, all as one’ all truckers are alike, all trucking jobs are like all other trucking jobs, the same… So all doctors are the same, all cop jobs alike, as usual, good job, you can now go to your off-site meeting, take your golf clubs with you, have a nice day!!!
    haller

  • Big R Phillips

    I thank her for the book and her effort to shine a more accurate light on our profession but i would like to get a documentary on all aspects of our industry. Dry van..reefer…flatbed..containers..tankers…bulk…dump trailers. I mean get the in’s and outs and talk to a number of drivers. Not just the guys who bitch’n wine but the guys who will give a detailed picture of what it takes to do this job day in and day out. Talk about everything rates…repair cost…maintenance cost…fuel…i mean lets get it all on the table. And dont forget traffic! I would like to see it in a 2 or 3 hour documentary so America can see just how we keep America moving and that we dont get the respect that we deserve. And most of all to get the folks in Washington to really get an indepth look at our industry as it really is. Not just sound bites from some hand picked stooge! I know there’s waaayee more to it than i have room to type my two cents but we gotta get the attention of the masses and get these part time brain surgeons that have never driven a truck to stop making up all these crazyazz rules and regs that keep us from doing our jobs the way its supposed to be done….Without their foot on our necks and in our asses! I’m just saying!

  • Barney

    No, all I am saying is that the ones making the rules in Washington for the DOT usually have never been behind the wheel themselves.

  • RalphMalph

    Correct Barney, and they never will be behind the wheel … it’s ‘ beneath ‘ them.

    Here’s a little sometinn’ to think on …. If you had just promised 10 – 50 million Illegals Amnesty and a job, how would you ‘ create ‘ those jobs ?

    How about creating Health Regs that would make you ineligible for a CDL … how about creating enough Laws + Regs that a current driver would need to be a magician to comply, so he/she loses their CDL.

    Now you have the necessary jobs for Illegals.

  • MrsMotorMouse66

    I couldn’t agree more BigR! My husband is a trucker and I ride with him every chance my own schedule allows (I’m a nurse). I think an in-depth documentary about the REAL nature of what it takes to drive an 18 wheeler should be compulsory watching for anyone taking their regular car driving test, then there would be less misunderstanding and bitching about truckers from people who know nothing about what it takes. It’s a damn hard profession which this country would grind to a halt without, and I applaud you all. And yes – the rule-makers should have to watch it too. I find it hard to believe how difficult they make the job for you.

  • Ramesh Kumar

    Congrats, Kim! I did 21000 KM in trucks in India between 2010 and 2012. Wrote three books (www.10000kmonindianhighways.com, http://www.nakedbanana.in and http://www.anaffairwithindianhighways.com). Cheers

  • Mohammad Syed Husain

    Vigilance by authorities of trucks on the highways has to have more warning effect than backbreaking fines imposed on violations. In spite of the fines, things are not any better and this has more to do with fatigue than anything else. So, there is something that’s not clicking, the rules, the in- vigilance or both. The accidents are unabated.

  • http://johnrehe.com/ Tracey

    Well said, MrsMotorMouse66. A lot of people would have a change of heart if they had the opportunity to have a behind-the-scenes look into what it really takes.

  • Wink”Crazy Cat” Smith

    I haven’t read or seen the book or “movie”,but already I know she has done more for truckers than the ATA ever has.Thank you Kim.That took a lot of guts.