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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.