It doesn’t take an episode of Ice Road Truckers to know that truck drivers across the country are facing tricky situations.
In you have been a driver on the road for over 5 years, you’re likely to have seen every terrain in the United States. We asked our community of truck drivers what type of terrain is the most chilling for them and how did they adapt. Drivers with strong histories behind the wheel in difficult circumstances answered us. We chose the best answers to help you out in hard times.
Overall the best advice for drivers is to stay prepared. Your pre-trip is going to keep you protected from what you can control. You mind and alertness will keep you ready for anything that happens.
Switchbacks and Backroads
My parents were drivers, and I remember being up in the mountains with them in the truck one summer. During one stop, they said we were heading up a mountain. They spent extra time checking the truck out to make sure everything was in good condition for a hard run. They both had coffee and had shared the route with each other, going over each turn and highway change.
James Sparlin Bowden said the hardest terrain he has been through was daily up and down runs with steep and bumpy dirt roads. The huge drop offs didn’t help him feel any more comfortable. James shared that these roads often have no shoulder or guard rails. A mistake can cost you your job and even your life. Specifically, James cautions people who have deep runs in the Ozark back country between the loader and the mill.
Let us know if you have runs like this and what your best advice would be to stay safe.
Every driver who has a cross country run in northern US winters has seen this unfriendly terrain. The winter land of Wyoming is one of the most commonly mentioned places to have your rookie winter struggle as a driver. In a way, its a rite of passage. If you learn to do it right and have the right help, what you learn will call you through winter after winter on the road. If you don’t learn how to do it or you aren’t taught by a winter trucking expert, you can put your career and life at risk.
Bobby Hricko says Wyoming passs during winter have been the hardest time for him.
Mickey Lee shared a story about his first time in Colorado in early winter. He was a rookie driver at the time, facing snow and slush in heavy uphill conditions. He was just about a mile before the Eisenhower tunnel. This was back in 2011. He had a light load of medical supplies. Mickey was looking forward to this load because it had great mileage pay. He started in East Lon Angeles, California and was headed to the outskirts of Chicago. As he passed through Utah, he found out his engine break was going out. Everywhere he looked, he saw that chains were mandatory. Mickey was not ever taught about what to do in this circumstance. Mickey had to leave the station with no chains, so he chose to be cautious. He made it alive and is thankful for only having a small load. This is one lucky driver.
Jeremiah Loughman describes the Wyoming winter window like a big bed sheet that you can’t see through while you’re being hit with strong winds that cross the truck. You have to pay attention and drive carefully when every second matters.
The first time John Greaves faced tricky winter terrain was out west. It was fluffy snow which is nice for a first time. The snow was deep, so John kept his eye on this temperature gauge and stayed in the middle of the highway. It looked for big lumps in the snow to determine if places were safe or not. He made it back with no problems.
John’s advice is that ice is ice. You must be sure not to make a sudden turn or quick movement. Keep yourself with plenty of stopping distance.
If you have tips for facing your most difficult winter weather, reach out to us on Facebook. There is plenty of time over the fall to prepare every driver for a safe winter.
Off Roading Special Circumstances
On top of mountain terrain and winter weather, we heard from some drivers who face uncommon special circumstances off road or uncommon natural disasters that forced them to level up as truckers.
John Greaves told us about an intense sand storm near the four corners in the United States. I slowly pulled over to the side off the road while I could still see and knew where I was and waited it out. He says you just nose out of the wind, slowly and carefully.
You may be a driver that is tasked with driving through a dangerous area. Keep rolling and keep your doors locked. Dangers may be outside, but you have a strong fort with a great vantage point.
Larry Jackson is used to dealing with challenging road circumstances afte 40 years on the road. Larry shared with us his route in the backwoods of West Virginia and the rural areas of Missouri. Larry has had to drive through creek beds and cow pastures to make deliveries. To get charcoal for a pick up, Larry had to drive through a camp ground and up a dirt road.
In past issues, we have asked drivers this question. One of our favorite answers every year is the incredible drivers who get to deliver to underground destinations. This is something you’ll only hear about at truck stops. Get out there and ask your fellow drivers about the craziest terrain they have had to encounter as a driver.
No matter where you are headed, be sure to be prepared at all times with a stocked kitchen, first aid supplies and a double-checked pre-trip checklist.