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What truckers are thinking about this holiday season

Drivers passing through a truck stop in Portland, Oregon talk holiday plans and a profession in flux.

Rick Heath, Jubitz Travel Center (Image: Linda Baker)

FreightWaves caught up with a few drivers at the Jubitz Travel Center in Portland, Oregon, where conversation revolved around holiday plans and a profession in flux.

Patrick Maher, owner-operator, Logix Transportation (Image: Linda Baker)

What I’m doing: Laundry
What I’m driving: 2013 Kenworth tractor
What I’m hauling: Trade show equipment
Where I’m going: St. Paul, Minnesota, then back home to Fort Worth, Texas
Years on the road: 35. I’m 60 years old.
Holiday plans: Be with my family — one son, one wife, one stepson, three grandkids. I may work New Year’s Eve.
Salary: My 1099 says $200,000.
Expenses: $130,000.
Trucking, past and present: There’s not near the amount of money there used to be. My income has not gone up with the cost of insurance, trucks, fuel. Everything got so expensive.
Autonomous trucking: I don’t see it happening in my lifetime.  It’s negative. How are you going to control it?
Pros and cons: I’m not one of these guys who loves trucking. It’s the most money I can make for my education or lack thereof. I do it for a job.

George Dippolito, 55, company driver (Image: Linda Baker)

What I’m doing: In the Cascade Room, waiting for my girlfriend
What I’m hauling: Everything.
Years on the road: 30.
Employee vs. owner-operator: I was an owner-operator but became a company driver. There’s too much hassle being an owner-operator: taxes, fuel charges, permits, all that garbage. Now I get in my truck, get paid hourly and drive.
Holiday plans: Stay home and watch football.
ELDs: They’re easy. My truck broke down, and I had to do a log book. I hadn’t done a log book in 20 years. It was crazy. They finally fixed it, and I’m happy.
Autonomous trucking: I don’t believe that’s going to work. I don’t care if a computer is driving a truck or not. It’s got to be a person behind the wheel. Computers can’t make decisions like people.
Best work experience: When I helped a lady on a road in Montana. Her car was on fire. I came along and put it out with a fire extinguisher. That was 15 years ago.
Worst experience: Twenty years ago in San Diego, I blew a tire and went off an embankment. Rolled about 40 feet down the hill. I didn’t drive for eight months.
Trucking, past and present: The drivers are not the same quality now. They just drive because it’s an easy profession. We used to stop and help people and talk on the radio. Now even the company drivers, they just go right by you. I think of truck driving as a lifestyle, not just a job.

Rick Heath (Image: Linda Baker)

What I’m doing: Eating a roast beef sandwich at Moe’s Deli.
What I’m hauling: Motorcycles. To individuals and dealers.
Where I live: Montana
Holiday plans: Taking Christmas off.  
Driver shortage, the myth: There’s not such a driver shortage as companies want to claim.  What they’re not telling you is, every month they are adding more trucks. Plus, a lot of them don’t have personal relationships with truck drivers, so if a driver finds a better deal, he will leave.
ELDs: Last week we finally changed over from AOBRD. Just made the (Dec. 16) deadline.  It worked great for two and a half days, then broke down. Glitches. There are always glitches.
Autonomous trucking: That’s a bad deal for public safety. Something’s going to fail.

Right to left: Jimmy Thomas, 23, and his brother, Daniel, 17

What I’m doing: Ordering the Bobtail burger in the Cascade Room.
Hometown: Chattanooga, Tennessee, just moved to Kentucky to be closer to my fiancee.
What I’m hauling: Furniture
What I’m driving: A Volvo semi. We’ve got a double bunk. It’s tight for a couple of big guys like us.
Holiday plans: It’s going to be close. We just emptied out, and we’re heading to San Francisco and then home.
All in the family: I’m a generational kid. My great-grandfather, grandfather, dad moved furniture. Thought I’d take a crack at it. I wanted to get out and see the country.
Brotherly love: Nice to have Daniel’s help, company.
Daniel: I ride shotgun. Take high school classes online. I like seeing everything on the road. I got to see Florida for the first time.

Jim Crain, 63, leased owner-operator (Image: Linda Baker)

What I’m doing: Renewing my motel bill. I’m in town for work on my truck.
What I drive: 1994 Freightliner
Truck maintenance: I’m getting the engine overhauled. Cost me $20,000.
What I’m carrying: Chemical transfer
Holiday plans: Probably be driving on Christmas. There are places open 24/7/ 365. Like paper mills. They have to have their stuff. They don’t shut down. I don’t mind.
ELDs: My truck is exempt because it’s old enough. I use a paper log. Anything that is 1999 and older is exempt. I am not computer savvy, but after a while I would learn how to do it.
Autonomous trucking: I don’t know if I want to trust one of them. They are all electronic, and what if it goes haywire?
Pros and cons: I like to go different places and see things. But I wouldn’t own my own truck again. I’d like someone else to have the headaches. I don’t think schools are preparing the drivers. They drive these trucks like they are driving their cars. And you can’t do that in a semi.
Social life: I’m not lonely. You’re always meeting shippers, receivers, somebody.


  1. Alexandria

    I’ve driven company side for almost 10 years. My company owns two others and when we can’t find dry freight we can haul for those places. However, the increased regulations and insurance costs have impacted my company greatly. Plus we can’t find good drivers which drives up our insurance costs from incidents and accidents. Lastly, Merry Christmas to my fellow truckers.

  2. anthony king

    not a fan of the eld s. my co is under the peoplenet system and im constantly calling my super in illinois to clear a problem up on the dam thing. just a constant hassle. we have enough to worry about out there as is. i have over 500,000 otr. i daycab now and im in my bed everynight,,with a excellant hourly pay rate. payrate is the only thing that keeps me out there. no more otr for me. been there done that ….sucks!

  3. Ronald Terlitsky

    Holidays are only good for reducing income for us Drivers. As a whole this industry has gone to the outhouse and stinks like one. ELD’s are a joke and we can thank Companies like Werner especially for their inception. Of course if maybe more than 1,000 Drivers actually stood up against the BS happening, change might have been an option. Training is on the highway instead of a decent school for 3 weeks and $6000. Add in the foreigners who operated a burro and wagon yesterday, now have a license to drive a 40 Ton vehicle (bomb!) with no background check available because their poor country didn’t keep American class type of recording. Another great combined effort from multiple worthless Govt agencies!!!

    1. Shane

      Yes, on your comment about foreigners. Everytime I am in a near miss, lane change screw up or cut off, it’s almost always a foreigner. Also it does not matter which country of origin.

  4. Louis

    ELDs are both a blessing and a curse.
    I’ve been a driver over forty three years now and I have seen a huge drop in DOT check points on log books since the ELDs came in.
    The paper logs were a quick and easy citation due in part that most drivers ( including myself ) found it difficult to keep up with due to being pressure to make the pick up and delivery appointments.
    However, we could also stop many times on a run with a paper logs and not have it counted against our time for the day.
    With the coming of the ELDs, I have noticed that no longer am I being pressured by some dispatcher to take a load when I am out of hours.
    On the flip side though if that thing says I should be driving even though I am tired from being up all day getting loaded then that’s another issue.
    The only way I’ve seen to make time and money with the ELD is to run team with a spouse.
    So in short, there is no great side either way with an ELD.

    1. Chad Joseph Sanislo

      That is simply not true.If a dispatcher tell you to take a load somewhere and your were on paper logs,you say no or grab a different load.The eld illegal computer in my opinion,is making drivers drive more aggresive and the stress level that comes with this stupid eld is out of control.But now Washington dosent care about safety cause what they do not realize is what legal,is not always safe,but when your a lawmaker and not a truck driver you haven’t a clue what your talking about.Shame on the DOT!!!

Comments are closed.

Linda Baker, Senior Environment and Technology Reporter

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves senior reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes autonomous vehicles, the startup scene, clean trucking, and emissions regulations. Please send tips and story ideas to [email protected]