Long-haul pride lives in new generation

Updated Sep 21, 2012

Around the internet, a new generation of drivers and owner-operators is feeling out those who’ve come before.

In addition to the young woman who proudly posted a picture of her brand-new CDL, acquired after years of college (including graduate school), that garnered hundreds of comments on RedditOverdrive‘s Facebook page has been pretty active, too. What better place for a 13-year-old dreaming of buying his first truck to quiz seasoned owner-operators about what truck he should choose when his time came?

That’s exactly what 13-year-old Overdrive reader Terelle Grant did, posting this question to the page during the high-traffic time of our coverage of the big Great American Trucking Show in Dallas. Specifically, he asked, “I’m saving my money to buy a Freightliner or a Peterbilt or a W900B Kenworth: Which one should I get?”

While it was no doubt heartening to many to see the young man actively engaging the owner-operator community, here’s hoping for good results for Grant down the line.  Here are the results of that informal polling, which garnered more than 50 responses all told:

Freightliner:  24 percent
Peterbilt:  29 percent
Kenworth:  31 percent
Get your education, then decide what can make you money:  10 percent
Kudos! Follow your dreams!:  5 percent

A couple other owner-operators wouldn’t specify a model. In addition to some posters’ advice to Grant to take time with his education, including college, before running out into rig/business ownership, operator Robert Kiselak offered this well-considered advice:

You’re going to get a wide variety of opinions, as you can tell. Here’s what I recommend: Go to a truck show. Don’t know what part of the country you’re in, but if you can make MATS (the Mid-America Trucking Show, in Louisville, Ky.), I highly recommend it. Otherwise, the other big show to attend is in Dallas. There’s a few other smaller shows in the United States, but those are the two big ones.

Why? Then, you can get into these trucks and sit inside them and look around to see which ones you really like. Driver’s-seat layouts are extremely different in all the trucks you mentioned. The cabs are different, and the sleepers are extremely different. I’m partial to Freightliner, but know that Petes ride very nicely — but as for looks and mpg they’re not my thing. KWs are OK, but I like my space and prefer the 86-inch bunk on the W900L. Now, if you can’t get to a truck show, go by a truck dealership and get into the cab of a Pete, then go into the sleeper. And do that with a KW, and a Freightliner. Open the doors, check out everything that you’re able to. Then you’ll have a much better idea of what you want.

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Everybody has their own preferences on things. I like to be able to stand up and walk into the sleeper — it’s much easier on the back. A Volvo offers probably the most space, and they do ride nice — but not all Volvo models are known for great reliability.

Transmissions: you can spec nearly any truck with nearly any transmission you want. And that makes a difference too.

Then, echoing many others, Kiselak added, “Good luck in your ventures.”