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Riding Shotgun

By: Kendra Rodgers, Account Group Director, ACS Advertising

When I was growing up, we travelled A LOT from Georgia to Alabama to see family. I passed the time trying to stay on my side of “the line” in the backseat with my brother; playing the ABC game, and counting the miles until we stopped to eat. One of my favorite ways to pass the time was to figure out what truck drivers were paid. Whenever we would pass a tractor trailer truck, they usually had the signs on the backs of the trailers that said $ .25 - $ .32 per mile. I would then try to calculate at 60 mph for 8 hours a day what that truck driver was making per week and then per month. I gained a very quick appreciation for truck drivers’ hard work.

During one of my first experiences driving on the Interstate, I passed a tractor trailer for the first time. And … I merged in front of him a little closer than my dad would have liked. He explained very quickly that I always needed to give trucks plenty of room and make sure they knew I was there. He emphasized how important it was not to travel next to them and that “if you can’t see their mirrors, they can’t see you.”

Anytime I travelled, I always felt a little safer on the roads when I saw tractor trailers. If there was a traffic jam, I always knew I could pull up next to a truck and they could tell me how far ahead the slowdown was. Even now that I work in the transportation industry, I always smile when I see a truck from a carrier I work with.

After years of looking up at trucks, I was able to see the view from the driver’s seat. Recently, on a visit with one of the carriers we work with, we were offered the opportunity to ride along in a truck. Riding shotgun, I was amazed at the different viewpoint from that high. As we drove by the major downtown area, our driver pointed out that you could see all the way to the center square – a view not afforded to a car or even bus rider. It was also enlightening to see how much you can see into the cars driving by!

Despite the fact we were travelling at 65 mph, it felt like we were crawling. The ride was extremely smooth and almost zen-like. Our driver had driven a truck for many years and now performed the road tests with new drivers. As he was regaling us with tales from the road, his eyes were constantly checking everything around him and his hands were in complete control of everything in front of him.

But the responsibility didn’t end with driving. Before we even got into the truck, we were instructed on the 3 Points of Contact rule for climbing in and out of the truck. I was determined to do everything just right, but blew it on my exit from the truck. Instead of climbing down facing the truck, I had my back to the truck. I was appropriately reprimanded and will not make that mistake again!

Trucking equipment is truly amazing. Despite the snug quarters, there is a space for everything including refrigerators and microwaves. And, if you drive for a carrier with APU equipped trucks, all of your electricity is powered quietly and efficiently without extra strain on your engine when you’re parked. I’m glad to know that the kings of the road have well-appointed thrones to reign from.

My recent truck ride is just one of my favorite things about working with carriers all over the country. But, to sit next to a professional driver and see the road from his perspective was priceless. We work hard every day helping our customers find quality drivers, and I was privileged to get the opportunity to ride alongside one for the day.

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