The Highway Way of Life

The trucker’s lifestyle issomething of a time and motion study – where your time is going, where you are going.

There are more than 3 million of you delivering America’s needs. The public guesses who you are, regularly building wildly inaccurate images from sources as diverse as urban myth and Hollywood sensationalism. But what does the pubic really know about who you are and how you live your life? What do you know?

“Truckers must have the ability to work in isolation, to exercise self-restraint, to be self-motivating and to maintain self confidence while enduring stressful highway conditions, boredom, loneliness and fatigue,” says researcher and professor of industrial/organizational psychology Sheryl Youngblood of Marywood University.

Being away from home for long periods, sitting in the seat of a tractor through long, stressful working hours and sleeping in the bunk of a sleeper shift after shift – not to mention eating foods that aren’t always lovingly home-prepared or made with a minimum of bad stuff and a maximum of good stuff – take their toll.

But research shows that for all the hurdles they face, America’s truck drivers are a well-adjusted, professional, safe and hard-working group of people from all backgrounds who have built good, productive lives and satisfying long-distance relationships through dedication and responsibility.

Different drivers handle the challenge of an on-the-road/off-the-road life in different ways. For many, family life is a decompression chamber, a place to recharge batteries. Others have their own, quirky ways to shake off the road. Veteran CRST Flatbed driver Roque Courvillion pushes his red ’97 W900L hard all over the country for almost all of the year. But every fall, he says, “I go off by myself for two weeks, and I usually don’t see anyone at all. The driving life is hard, and it loads you up with all sorts of stresses. I go out alone and live in the woods and find myself; I feel like the real me again and not someone who has been changed by the pressures of the road. I feel good and I can start clean again.”

Who you are
About 80 percent of owner-operators are married, and more than a third have children living at home, according to a new survey by Overdrive magazine. Truckers News found that 47 percent of all drivers have a high school degree, 38 percent have a technical or associate degree or some college in their background and 6 percent have bachelor’s degrees.

The Truckers News survey found that 70 percent of drivers made less than $50,000 and 30 percent more than $50,000. The most commonly cited income was $40,000-$49,000, which fits 23 percent of drivers. Those earning $30,000-$39,000 made up 22 percent. But it can be hard to make more money in this industry – 46 percent of the Truckers News survey drivers said their net income has decreased over the past two years.

In a major report on the trucking lifestyle by Ohio State University Extension and the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute at North Dakota State University, drivers’ concerns about financial stability also surfaced. Asked to list their concerns about the industry, drivers listed “financial planning for retirement, savings and investment, getting the most for your money, information on the trucking firm’s support system and ideas for spending less.” As the researchers point out, “all topics relate to managing money except for specific information about the firm’s support system.”

The Overdrive survey asked owner-operators the benefits they most looked for when trying to find jobs. The number one answer (almost 50 percent) was home time. When those same truckers were asked about their major concerns about the industry, problems that limited their income (e.g. rising costs, low pay) dominated their reactions along with concerns about government interference in their lives. But lifestyle issues also ranked strongly: lack of recognition (22 percent) quality of life (19 percent), the effects of the job on their families (21 percent) feeling too much stress (23 percent) and job-related health problems (12 percent).

The New Drivers
The lifestyle of the American trucker is changing. The former stereotype may well be laid at the feet of ol’ Burt Reynolds and his devil-may-care, free-as-a-bird trucker running beer where it shouldn’t go in Smokey and the Bandit in 1977. Many truckers came to the industry to find that freedom-of-the-open-road lifestyle.

“In 1975 when I started there was not as much competition for drivers as there is today,” says Gary Kelley, vice president of driver recruiting at U.S. Xpress in Chattanooga, Tenn. “So we could be as tough as we wanted to do. We recruited what company operations departments wanted. We went for people with clean records, an excellent history of stability in jobs, good, solid clean-cut people. And we sent them over the lower 48, and they got home for two or three days every six weeks or so. It was ridiculous. We turned them into nomads with no family life or chance of a family life. But plenty of people wanted the work and bought the dream of the freedom of the highway, and we could recruit to those specifics.”

But drivers don’t want to be Burt anymore. A big percentage of the guys behind the OTR wheel want to be husbands and dads, and women in the driver’s seat want to be wives and moms as well as drivers. So companies are changing to accommodate what drivers now want in their lifestyle more than ever before, says Kelley.

Home time is very important to Teresa Fox, a seven-year veteran of the road, who drives with her husband for Miller Trucking, out of Stroud, Okla. That’s why she’s driving for a company that acknowledges that fact, she says. “I try to take my down time at home. We have kids and grandkids. I use the Internet to stay in touch [from the road], but Miller gets us home when we want to be there,” Fox says.

“Operations departments can’t dictate anymore,” Kelley says. “They have to change the way the company works to give drivers what they want. And the two main things they want are steady paychecks and steady home time. The days of solo drivers seeing all 48 with us are becoming history. Now we’re looking at shorter hauls, people working closer to home and getting more time at home. We had to restructure to do that.

“For example we never used to take someone back if they quit, but we’ve had to re-look at that. Why did they leave? We have drivers who choose a lifestyle where they drive in winter and take other jobs, mostly construction, in summer.”

There are also more older drivers behind truck wheels today, says Kelley, especially teams of older married couples. Older drivers demand a specific lifestyle, he says, some wanting long hauls so they can “see the country,” others simply demanding enough hours to keep active health insurance until they reach 65 and are covered by Medicare. “We’ll send them coast to coast if that’s what they want, or we’ll split a team route that can earn $100,000 into two for two older couples to earn $50,000 and be insured if that’s what they want,” Kelley says.
Miller’s Teresa Fox says simply, “I drive to spend time with [my husband]. My kids are grown,
I’m a grandmother and my husband was gone all the time. Miller takes good care of us. The money is nice, but it’s only one reason I drive.”

Like a lot of trucking companies, U.S. Xpress has had to become more flexible. “We’re building smaller business units so if, for example, a driver wants a lifestyle that keeps him in the Southeast, we have a fleet that does just that,” Kelley says. “U.S. Xpress has started shipping some freight by rail, and we have drivers at either end, working shorter routes in areas where they want to work, doing delivery and pickup.”

It is a direction, Kelley concedes, which many leading companies are taking. Kelley’s message is that a valuable driver can now shape his lifestyle more than at any other time in the industry (See Smart Driving).

But there are still drivers out there who love the disappearing “freedom of the open road” lifestyle.

Paul Reising, a 20-year veteran who now hauls for Ecklund out of Neenah, Wis., is one of them. “Running seven on, one off is the only way to make money in this business,” he said. “I wouldn’t run for one of those lifestyle fleets. I want to run and make money. I’m going back to running California turns. I can do a turn a week and make good money. You can run 75 from the Nebraska line to the California line.”

Family Ties
Thirty days, 20, 10 or two, being “away” is still a fact of the truck driving life.

The latest Truckers News reader survey found that the average number of days OTR drivers spent at home out of every 30 days was 8. But the most common number was four days, cited by 16 percent of the surveyed drivers. Drivers spending more than 10 days out of 30 at home accounted for just 14 percent of the surveyed drivers, and then came eight-day layovers at 13, six days at 12 percent and five days at 10. But drivers spending three days or less out of 30 at home combined came to a hefty 21 percent of the survey.

But whether a driver is out for weeks or days, being away from home is a lifestyle issue.
Most drivers don’t feel their long distance relationships are a problem. They may have prickly or frustrating times but consider them part of a normal relationship or family life.
But large numbers of truckers do worry about the relationships they leave back at home.
When eTrucker.com asked drivers, “What are your main concerns with your long distance relationship with a spouse or children?” the biggest single response was “I don’t have any concerns.” (41 percent) Even allowing for drivers wanting to provide a positive answer, the poll suggests a healthy percentage of drivers have managed to create strong, smoothly working long-distance loves and families.

Two other problems that might have surprised with big numbers actually rated low in the eTrucker.com survey: Only 9 percent of drivers reported “We communicate poorly,” and only 5 percent cited “Temptation on the road” as a relationship problem.

The Ohio State University Extension and Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute looked into relationships in their more exhaustive survey. While the study was done in 1997, UGPTI Director Gene C. Griffen says the work is “fundamentally sound and still very relevant.
“The only thing that has really come along to change anything is the rapid development of technology, such as cell phones, that has improved the ability of drivers and partners to communicate.”

That study found that “drivers tend to worry more about their family while they were gone than their spouses did. In turn, the partners worried more about the driver’s safety while on the road. The partner at home expresses being lonelier than the driver, which may reflect the independent nature of drivers.” A rather surprising fact was that partners at home felt the driver’s work life interfered less with the family than the driver reported. And drivers thought of themselves as being less successful in balancing their work and family roles than their partners at home did.

The OSU-NDS researchers found that the driver’s partner back at home felt the driver’s supervisor was not as understanding to work and family issues as the driver thought the supervisor was. And they discovered that while drivers have a strong desire to be more involved in their children’s lives, their partners showed significantly less support for the driver’s involvement.

Partners do want drivers to be more involved in family activities, but that did not translate into the drivers feeling pressure to be involved. They also discovered that some drivers rate ordinary daily family activities just as important as special occasions. But when it came to missing family activities, the partner felt worse about it than the driver.

“These results seem to indicate they each recognize and accept job-induced time constraints, yet wish it to be different,” say the OSU-NDS researchers.

But when a driver gets home, life can take a little while to adjust. OSU-NDS researchers found that the home-based partners may see the driver’s role with the children as less important, or even as an interruption to established routines and interactions, when the driver gets home.

The partners left at home report a closer relationship with friends outside their family and a stronger spiritual faith than drivers. They also feel significantly less satisfaction with the family’s decision-making methods, money management and division of household responsibility than the drivers do, according to the OSU-NDS survey.

Ladies and Gentlemen
But that’s not all partners at home do. Overdrive magazine’s survey of owner-operators shows that abut 70 percent of spouses or “significant others” help manage business operations from home and 30 percent help make major buying decisions. And while many of those at home are loving wives, women are making more than an at-home impact on trucking.

More women are in the truck driving force than ever, making up almost 5.5 percent of the nation’s drivers, most of them coming into the industry in their early 30s. Many, of course, are team driving with their spouses. More than half of the women at the wheel are married, and three quarters have children, many still of school age, so they face the same distance relationship problems all family drivers face. In fact 65 percent of them are away from home more than four nights a week. About one quarter of these women have come to trucking from office jobs, and about 10 percent have come straight from a life as a homemaker. Two-thirds of them had no driving experience before they took the job. And while women rate pay as the number one attraction of the job, not surprisingly, second came pride in their job.

Speaking of something unheard of 25 years ago: Women drivers faced with being away from home are willing to turn down loads, especially if the haul adds to their time away from home.

While there are roughly 160,000 woman truckers behind the wheel, women are also choosing the lifestyle of a trucking company manager and making inroads – they now make up 18 percent of the management ranks.

Women are not the only relative newcomers to the driver’s seat. More people from diverse backgrounds are now choosing the trucking lifestyle.

In the 1970s more than eight out of 10 drivers were white and male. Today white males make up 72 percent of the truck-driving work force, according to 2001 U.S. government figures; 14 percent are black and 13 percent are Hispanic. There are also more married couples in the driver force. And immigrants, more middle-aged drivers and more retirees are trying to find some more earning years.

That 72 percent figure seems destined to shrink. Projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest that by 2010 five women will enter the general U.S. work force for every three men. Over the intervening years the Hispanic work force will grow by 36 percent, African American by 21 percent and the white work force by nine percent.

Jatinder Singh says he was the first Sikh hired by JB Hunt. Singh says the company asked him to shave his beard and get rid of his turban, but he would not. The company, he said, put him on anyway

Whoever is driving, the road is a dangerous place.

Something like 600 drivers a year die on our highways, a little more than half as the result of rollover accidents. But truckers are not the reckless cowboys Hollywood would so often have us believe.

Despite a frustratingly unglamorous reputation, truckers are the road’s most solid citizens when it comes to safety, according to American Trucking Associations data. The large truck fatal crash rate (fatal crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled) has dropped significantly since 1992, coming down from 2.5 to 2.1. The number of trucks placed out of service for serious defects at roadside inspections dropped in 2001, as it had dropped in 2000 and 1999. Truck driver blood alcohol content was a factor in fatal accidents involving large trucks 1.1 percent of the time in 2001, a third lower than the 1.5 percent of 2000 (and far below the 2001 levels for motorcycles (29 percent), passengers cars (23 percent) and light trucks and vans (23 percent).

Staying Healthy
Every trucker is aware that their working conditions are not ideal for people trying to stay fit, trim and as healthy as they can be. Health concerns are constantly in the driver’s mental rear view mirror. But drivers who take the time to find ways to exercise, control their diet, practice de-stressing techniques (such as yoga, which requires only cab space) and have regular medical checkups, can live long healthy lives.

An eTrucker survey of 572 drivers found the most common health concern (58 percent) was worry about diet and nutrition, whether their diet had adequate levels of vital nutrients and minimum levels of potentially harmful material like fat, mercury or sodium. But at least three other health worries are a problem for a large number of drivers: Back pain (51 percent), overweight (48 percent) and sleep problems (40 percent). A lot of drivers also reported anxiety problems (25 percent) and arthritis (15 percent) as medical concerns.

Most drivers turn first to over-the-counter medical remedies (54 percent), with vitamins and supplements as their second choice (48 percent). More than a third (34 percent) rely on prescription drugs, and slightly less than a quarter of drivers (24 percent) rely on herbal and natural remedies. And old habits die hard – 10 percent of drivers treat themselves with home remedies.

Faith as Co-Pilot
Faith rides in many cabs out on the interstates.

More than a third (37 percent) of drivers refer to sacred verses in their daily life, according to a survey by eTrucker. Of those drivers almost half (49 percent) said such words were extremely valuable in providing them with inspiration. Another large group (46 percent) said the verses were extremely valuable in providing comfort, and only a slightly smaller number (39 percent) said they were an extremely valuable help in decision making.

The drivers referring to these verses mostly look for references that they can “roll around in my mind mile after mile.” But 46 percent look for ways to help cope with being away from their loved ones, 32 percent find verses that help dispel loneliness, 32 percent look for words to help them cope with fear and 20 percent say they find words to help them fight off temptation. And one in five drivers search for new verses they can talk to fellow truckers about.

Another part of the Truckers News survey shows the diversity and sophistication of the modern driver’s life. Sixty-four percent own their own house or condo, 63 percent own a pickup or sports vehicle and 58 percent own more than one automobile. Here are some numbers that might surprise you – 30 percent own stocks and bonds, 12 percent invest in real estate and 10 percent own a house other than their primary residence.

One of those drivers is the Ecklund veteran Paul Reising, who is “buying real estate. I just bought a duplex to rent out. That and my social security are my retirement.”

The Truckers News survey also found that 60 percent of truckers now use the Internet in some way. While nine out of 10 users have Web connection at home, 17 percent use their laptops at a truckstop and 14 percent go into the truckstop and use a kiosk. And 13 percent of drivers access the Net from their truck.

From her study of truckers, Youngblood found that pride in the work and self-esteem were strong in the industry, with a stunning 72 percent of the drivers rating their belief in the importance of their work to society as “high.”

“As a group, over-the-road truckers hold high ethical standards,” Youngblood says in her report. “Seventy-two percent believe their work is very important to society. Only 11 percent feel their work is of low value. This belief correlates highly with other attitudes and behaviors that reflect a sense of responsibility to society, the domain, the workplace, to self and others.”

And she found that how much they loved their work was related to how much they earned.
Youngblood found that 71 percent of drivers said driving was in their blood and they were “certain” or “absolutely certain'” that driving is what they want to do. Fifty-three percent of these drivers described themselves as “smokin’.” No one driving only for the money is “smokin,'” said Youngblood. But 27 percent of drivers who said they were “smokin'” netted over $50,000. On the other hand, drivers who said that driving was only somewhat in their blood were more likely to report that they felt that instead of “smokin'” in the profession, they were just “plodding.”

Importantly, Youngblood also confirmed that drugs and alcohol were not used by most drivers as a coping technique.

So what did this highly trained researcher in industrial/organizational psychology title her report that was so full of arcane phraseology, graphs, charts and mathematical and research formulas? What else? Youngblood was so impressed by the drivers she studied that she titled it “Knights of the Road.”


Six Days on the Road with the Doc
A professor goes OTR to launch a remarkable research project into the trucking life

By Dr. Sheryl Youngblood
(Dr. Youngblood is a professor of industrial/organizational
psychology at Marywood University in Pennsylvania)

It is the summer before last, July 4. Many Americans are barbequing chicken and steaks on the grill; people are sitting in lounge chairs or at tables with drinks in their hands. Some are in the air-conditioned house, relaxing on a sofa and watching the big-screen television.

While others are celebrating, I am observing truck drivers who have surrendered time with family and friends to spend this day delivering the goods to which we have grown accustomed and view as our inalienable rights. These Knights of the Road arose very early, inspected their trucks, completed paperwork and started down the highway to any number of destinations. They have been abiding by speed limits, pulling in for weight inspections and searching for truck washes to keep their trucks “looking good.” They frequently cheer each other with humor and good will: “God Bless You,” “There’s a Smokey on mile marker 97,” “Is there a truck wash open?” I see them working diligently to get their loads to the warehouse on time, so the rest of us can get in our cars, go to the stores and buy all those things that we need and want.
These are my thoughts as I am returning home to Scranton, Pa., from a nearly six-day trip to Minneapolis in an 18-wheeler.

Prior to moving to Northeast Pennsylvania, I had no interactions with truck drivers. But in a region with a large trucking industry, it was inevitable that I would meet them and their families. The more I conversed with truckers, the more impressed I became with them. I found them knowledgeable, insightful, humorous and extremely productive. As an industrial/organizational psychologist, I am drawn to people who find pleasure in their jobs and perform “good work” in spite of industry and other pressures to do otherwise. Good work is accepting a responsibility to one’s coworkers, family, friends, the public, the industry and to oneself. It is about being ethical.

To begin my yearlong study about the ethical attitudes, lifestyle and work habits of over-the-road truckers, I believed it was important to go out on the road. After four weeks of cajoling one of my owner-operator friends to take me with him, I bravely answered “yes,” when as we rolled out of the yard, he asked me if I was sure I wanted to do this. Even though I didn’t really want to sleep in truckstop parking lots and had no idea how long we would be gone, I knew in my heart of hearts that I was called to do this research.

During this trip, I breathed the diesel fumes of parking lots, stood in long lines for showers, scavenged for the healthiest food among the fats and carbohydrates, and listened to drivers communicate with each other through the CB. They humored each other through traffic jams, commiserated when encountering a deadly accident involving another driver, supported each other with information and assistance, and applauded the driver who sang a beautiful rendition of “How Great Thou Art.” I heard about the lack of integrity among some trucking companies: promises not kept, drivers sent on longer routes to avoid paying tolls but paid according to the shortest route, layoffs without warnings, blackballing of drivers who refuse assignments for safety purposes and truck repair costs deducted from paychecks.

And, yes, I heard some crass arguments, rude comments and conversations that were nothing short of sexual harassment. But these drivers were the minority; and in most cases, they stopped when another driver reminded them that they were supposed to be professionals.

Five months after my trip, 458 drivers had responded to my mailed survey. In June of 2003, I presented my research findings, “Knights of the Road: Ethics, Cognitive Maps and Good Work of Over-the-Road Truckers,” at the Hawaii International Conference of the Social Sciences. The first question posed to me was one that I have never heard in all my years of attending these conferences: “You’ve collected some great information, now what are you going to do about it?” Happily, I was ready with an answer. Since many truckers had told me that their jobs would be much easier if the public understood who they were and what they do, I launched a radio show, KnightTime, to provide a forum from which truck drivers and the public can talk.
Throughout this process, I have become aware of several prevailing beliefs that are detrimental to drivers’ well being, and I want to offer insight and encouragement that may help them to think otherwise.

Myth #1: The industry is being taken over by drivers who don’t care about professionalism.
My research revealed that 89 percent of the drivers think their work is important to society and want to maintain a professional attitude. Seventy-one percent experienced a calling to trucking; only 6 percent are in it just for the money.

Often it is the two or three obtuse loudmouths who dominate the CB.The drivers with professional attitudes remain silent, until one can no longer take the nonsense and speaks out. However, as humans, we have a tendency to pay more attention to negative events and to overlook the positive. It is important to remember that professional drivers are the vast majority, and they should be the most vocal group. Censor the few drivers who damage the image of all others, and instruct them in the importance of their job.

Myth #2: The public doesn’t care about truck drivers.
The public does care; they just need to be given information. We discuss many topics on my radio show, and I hear from the public just as often as I hear from drivers. People have been upset when learning about lumpers and no idling laws and have questioned what they can do to change things. We have two state legislators working on issues of concern that were presented to them by truck drivers on the show. I have many people tell me that they now view truck drivers differently, and they no longer feel anger at sharing the road with them. The public does want to learn more and be given ways to help. We need truck drivers to talk to us so we can understand and work together to make the highways safer and your job easier.

Myth #3: Nothing will change; one person cannot make a difference.
Quantum physics has shown us that everything in the universe is interconnected. The Butterfly Effect argues that if a butterfly flaps its wings in America, Japan experiences a weather change. Likewise, research found that rolling a billiard ball just two feet causes atoms to change around the world. We don’t need a critical mass to change things: only one person.
It is important to realize that each driver can make a difference. Everything you do will cause a change, whether it is speaking out against injustices, unprofessional conduct and unfair compensation or promoting changes in the industry, giving the public driving tips or extending courtesy to four-wheelers and other truckers.

For example, I am just one person who had a desire to conduct positive research about truck drivers, and this one study has exploded into much more. I wrote a column about truckers for a newspaper, which it entitled, “Have you hugged a trucker lately? Maybe you should.” A local newspaper just did a very favorable story on truck drivers, which was followed by an editorial two days later entitled “Lighten Truckers’ Load with a Shift in Attitude.” I have a radio show that started at a university station and is now broadcast on three AM stations and one FM station and has been featured on local television stations.

Change is inevitable. You can let it happen to you, or you can make it happen the way you want it. You have the power!


Be a Great Long-Distance Parent and Spouse

The Fatherhood Initiative (www.fatherhood.org) lists 10 ways military parents deployed overseas can stay involved with their children and loved ones at home. And, says the program’s chief Vincent DiCaro, they can apply easily to truckers:

Be creative.
When it comes to staying connected with the kids back home, use everything the modern world offers you – video and cassette tapes, video conferencing, phones, postcards, e-mails and websites. Use them, and use them often.

Put a “message in a bottle.”
Before you leave write as many short messages to your child as you can and put them in a large jar, can or box. Tell your child to pull out one message a day while you’re gone.

Draw pictures.
Your kids will love to receive your drawings. Everyone can draw. Yes, even you! The best part is that the kids will love your artwork even if you don’t. So take a pencil, some paper and five minutes to draw a simple picture of you and your children. Then send it off to them.

Record helpful phone numbers.
The parent who stays at home needs to know who to call in a crisis. Make them a list. Both parents will then feel better about the children’s security, and you’ll know your spouse will have someone to reach out to, emergency or not.

Get your house in order.
Take care of financial, medical and legal loose ends before you leave home. Make sure bills that have to be paid while you’re gone can be paid simply and with no worries. Make sure your family knows how your medical insurance policy works so they can get attention without problems.

Prepare for changes in your children.
Distant fathers complain that they miss too much of their child’s development. If you stay connected as much as you can, you’ll know these changes are coming and be as much a part of them as possible, avoiding the frustration of finding out about them only after they happen.

Learn the basics of child development.
Find some basic book or reliable Internet research that describes the way children grow older. It will help you know what to expect, whether its coming home to a 6-month-old you think should be using a spoon to eat only to find she’s all fingers, or a teenager with dating problems you didn’t even expect to be dating.

Allow your children to ask questions and express fears.
The world can be a scary place. Kids these days don’t only have to deal with the boogey man and monsters in the closet, they worry about what they see on the news. And kids can be scared by you being out there alone on the road. Talk to them before you leave and let them know it’s okay to be worried, even scared, but reassure them that everything will be OK. Allow them to ask questions – whether you are at home or on the road – and express fears about anything.

Get help if you need it.
Whether emotionally or physically, if you feel like you need help, seek it out. If you have the blues or feel depressed, look for professional help in phone books or on the Net, and take the time to assure yourself that it is reliable and proven help. If you have cause to worry about your health, don’t put off a doctor’s visit. Reach out for help for your kids’ sake.

Remember what you do.
In the military version of this list a parent away from home is urged to remember that he is sacrificing his home life for his country. You, too, should remember and feel better about what you do – you are out there keeping the country running, a vital job for a healthy America. Someone has to do it, and it’s you.


The Road/Outdoor Lifestyle Mix

Readers of our The Great Outdoors section will already have met truckers who carefully build their work behind the wheel around their preferred lifestyle. Gregg Ruch, an owner-operator, built a relationship with Crete Carrier that lets him spend most of the winter months living on his sailboat/home in Puget Sound. PFT Roberson flatbedder Derry Kingston is single and uses time off to go to exotic fly-fishing locations. Marten Transport driver Darcy Linklater found a driving lifestyle where he could follow two passions, driving and owning a specialist fishing tackle store in tiny Dixie, Wash. And check out this month’s driver, Jim Palmer Trucking’s Monte Thompson, who works his schedule and income to set up international big game hunts.

Vacations? Trucking executive and “Outdoors” subject Terry Evans, vice president-personnel development at Metal Transportation Systems advises: “My schedule is full, as it is
for most drivers. … There’s no ‘good time’ to take a vacation; there’s always something that has to be done, and putting it off isn’t an option

The Business Manual for Owner-Operators
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