Ring of the Road

Just a decade ago, cell phone handsets were attached by pigtails to large, cumbersome bags, and generally worked only in large population centers. And most truckers still used pay phones to check in with their carrier and family.

While only a meager percentage of truckers use e-mail to communicate with their carrier, according to a recent survey of Truckers News readers, the vast majority reach out and touch someone with their cell phones. More than 45 percent call dispatch or other company personnel most often on their cell phones. More than 80 percent use cell phones regularly.

More than 60 percent of Truckers News readers call home on their cell phones. Marcine Bussey, an owner-operator from Syracuse, N.Y., says he uses his cell phone to keep up with his 11 children and his wife. “I use it almost all the time,” he says. Bussey, who has been driving for 44 years, says he never really envisioned a time when he could make a phone call from inside his truck. Over the years he’s driven a lot of out-of-route miles to check in with his family and to call about loads.

“Cell phones make doing business and keeping in touch with family easier,” Bussey says. “I used to stop all the time and now it makes that unnecessary. It cuts down on all the stops.”

That opinion is shared by more than 60 percent of Truckers News readers, who say cell phones have done the most to make their jobs easier, followed by onboard communication devices (29 percent), onboard computers (16 percent) and home computers (14 percent).

Like most truckers, Doeshia and Samuel Williams, a husband and wife team for Covenant Transport, have a cell phone, but because they drive team the phone stays mainly at home, says Doeshia. “We don’t want to run up a bill,” she says.

Most of the truckers surveyed by Truckers News also say their cell phone service has adequate coverage.

Truckers News Survey Results

If you use a cell phone, do you believe your service provides
adequate coverage?

  • Yes: 63%
  • No: 26%
  • Unsure: 11%

How do you communicate most often with home?

  • Cell phone: 60%
  • Telephone: 57%
  • E-mail: 7%
  • On-board communications system: 3%
  • Other: 3%
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How do you communicate most often with dispatch or other company

  • Cell phone: 46%
  • On-board communications system: 44%
  • Telephone: 42%
  • E-mail: 2%
  • Other: 4%

Which of the following technologies has done the most to make your job easier?

  • Cell phone: 62%
  • On-board communications device: 29%
  • On-board computer: 16%
  • At-home computer: 14%
  • Other: 6%
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