Be Kind to Truckers



They’re big. You can’t see around their wide loads and double doors. Acceleration isn’t really their modus operandi. Chances are you’ve been cut-off or nearly run over by many. They flagrantly linger in bike lanes and no-parking zones. They are, of course, semi-trucks—the universally despised, sluggish bullies of the interstate highway system.

But truckers get a bad rap; outspoken voices don’t often come to their defense. Someone needs to set the record straight. “Let me tell you a little about the truck driver you just flipped off because he was passing another truck,” writes fleet manager Dan Hansen for Minneapolis’ Star Tribune, “and you had to cancel the cruise control and slow down until he completed the pass and moved back over.”

Hansen’s op-ed chronicles the day-to-day life of a long-haul truck driver, focusing on the tragic—nay, Dickensian—career of one of his former employees. His portrait is sympathetic in a drive-1,500-miles-in-another-man’s-shoes sort of way.

Although the job is romanticized and mythologized, the pay isn’t glamorous. “Most of these guys are gone 10 days, and home for a day and a half, and take home an average of $500 a week if everything goes well,” writes Hansen. And, he says, the rising costs of overhead are only compounding the stress: “[T]he best these trucks do for fuel economy is about 8 miles per gallon. With fuel at almost $4 per gallon—well, you do the math. And, yes, that driver pays for his own fuel.”

Hansen urges us to show compassion, or at least patience, for the working class folks who support America’s economic infrastructure:

8/11/2011 9:43:57 AM

Maybe we need Trucks Only lanes instead of HOV lanes. After all, trucks and cars really don't operate the same way on the road, and frequently tangle with each other with disastrous results for all. My problem with the truck drivers is that because of low pay, long hours, and being paid by the load, they tend to drive too fast, too long, and many times, on uppers of one sort or another. (Car drivers are guilty too. It would help if the speed limit is lowered, and everyone observed it. After all, the posted limit is not supposed to be the slowest we can go, it's supposed to be the fastest.)

steve eatenson
8/11/2011 8:54:32 AM

Yes, so, truck drivers are getting "trucked" by our current capitalistic big business, oil driven economy. Aren't we all, that is, except the special few who control the whole mess?

8/10/2011 9:27:22 AM

A few years back I was waiting at a red light on my bike in Chicago and another bike came up alongside me. The rider asked for directions to the lakefront. We rode together a mile or so, chatting at the red light stops. Turned out he was a semi-truck driver, and he always took his bike with him so he could explore his surroundings while waiting for loading/unloading. Yes, one cool truck driver!

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