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A day in the life of a professional construction truck owner/driver (April 01, 2010)

Ever wonder what a typical day is like for a professional construction trucker? The professional driver gets up early (usually between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.), makes a nutritious lunch (lots of fruits, veg...


Ever wonder what a typical day is like for a professional construction trucker? The professional driver gets up early (usually between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.), makes a nutritious lunch (lots of fruits, vegetables and protein), boils some H2O and fills his thermos for the day.

Breakfast is usually a cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal (ideally with a minimum of 12 grams of fiber and a few blueberries per serving). He checks the wife, kids, dog, cat, etc. making sure they are all safe, then off he goes to work. (Not much traffic at 4 a.m. -sweet!)

The driver does a thorough pre-trip inspection of his unit, knowing there won’t be any issues with it because of the thorough post-trip inspection he did when he parked the truck the day before.

After completing his pre-trip, he documents all the relevant paperwork like the Commercial Vehicle Inspection Report and logbook and enters contractor information and dispatcher instructions on his company time record report. He notes the load site and dump site addresses, the haul route and all other applicable information. Now he is ready to leave the yard and proceed to the load site.

After arriving at the load site, he puts on his personal protective equipment (hard hat, fluorescent vest, steel-toed boots, safety glasses, gloves and coveralls).

Now he can exit the truck and proceed to the contractor job site safety meeting.

The contractor’s personnel address the hazards and instructions for the load site, dump site and haul route. Special attention is given to the locations of overhead power lines, water valves, man holes, high-voltage cables and any other on-site hazards.

He then signs off to acknowledge that he understands and agrees to follow the instructions.

The driver is now able to line up to load, leaving enough space so the driver ahead can see him and also back up without backing into his truck. While waiting in line, the professional driver will clean his mirrors, windows, headlights, tail lights, brake lights, dash, etc. He will complete all relevant paperwork and will soon be ready to load.

The professional driver always pays attention to the loading process, moving up as the trucks get loaded, paying attention to the operator and where he’d like him to stop for loading. Usually, the operator will give a toot of the horn when he wants you to stop and when you are loaded, so the professional driver keeps the stereo turned down, stays off the cell phone and keeps his window open so he can hear the horn.

When the truck is loaded, the professional driver gives the operator a smile, a nod of his head or a friendly wave -or if he has a CB radio in his truck, a pleasant ‘Good morning.’

The driver proceeds to the tarping and clean-off area and cleans off the load wherever the material hangs loose. He tarps his load and makes sure his gates are locked.

As he exits the job site, he approaches the flag man who tries to stop the rush hour traffic.

When the traffic finally stops, the professional driver attempts to exit the site, but may have to come to an emergency stop because traffic has decided to ignore the flag man’s directions.

Soon after, the flag man manages to get traffic stopped and the professional driver can now safely leave the load site. The professional driver gives the flag man a wave for risking his life to stop the traffic!

When he gets off-site, he is now in the midst of rush hour traffic. He is cut off a couple times before he gets to the first traffic light.

The professional driver moves over to the right lane and avoids convoying or travelling in the fast lane. He uses the fast lane to pass slow-moving traffic then moves back over to the right lane so not to cause traffic congestion. He studies the traffic lights and traffic flow and paces himself so he doesn’t have to stop and start at every light.

As he approaches the dump site, he is cut off by a couple more cars. (Just another day in the life of a professional truck driver).

When he enters the dump site, he has to stop for an empty truck who failed to yield to the loaded truck. Rather than get upset, the professional driver makes adjustments for the lack of professionalism of the other truck driver (as he will always do).

He proceeds into the dump site, observing the direction of the dump man and keeping far enough behind the truck ahead to allow to him to get dumped first. While waiting for the truck ahead of him to unload, he untarps his load.

He proceeds to the dumping area, dumps his truck and then jackknifes his trailer as quickly as possible to prevent congestion in the dump site.

He proceeds to clean off the area, his hitch, his gates and proceeds off-site.

The professional driver is always courteous and has a friendly attitude.

He usually gives a nod or wave to all personnel on the site during the first and last loads of the day -even though the mood of the competition can be aggressive, unfriendly and stressed.

When the professional driver leaves the job site, he yields the right-of-way to the loaded competitor’s truck, even if the loaded competitor truck’s driver does not acknowledge the courtesy -he just gives a look that would kill, a common practice these days.

The professional driver gives him a nod, a wave and a smile any-ways. The professional driver is working by the hour today, so he shows up to the job on time, stays in line, spaces out so he doesn’t bunch up the job site and keeps his trip times consistent.

As the professional driver leaves the dump site, he has to stop at a green light because another truck has run a red light and there would have been a collision if the professional did not stop. He doesn’t get excited or upset (just another day as a professional driver!)

As he scans a 360-degree radius every 10 seconds, he notices an ambulance trying to get through traffic a couple blocks behind him.

The professional driver moves over to the right side of the road and stops, to clear a path for the ambulance to follow. The traffic behind him fails to stop or move over for the ambulance -they don’t even realize it’s there.

Once the ambulance passes, the professional driver tries to move forward but has to wait for the impatient drivers to pass him before he can safely return to the traffic lane (just another day as a professional driver!)

While proceeding to the load site, the professional driver observes a vehicle pulled off to the right side of the road. He looks in his left mirror, puts on his left signal light then moves over to the left lane and passes the stopped vehicle safely. Then he signals and goes back into the right lane when safe to do so.

The professional driver will always take steps to diffuse an unsafe situation, even if the other drivers fail to do so. After loading his second load, he proceeds off-site towards the dump site. He waves to the flag man for stopping the traffic.

As he leaves the job site, he moves over to the right lane and observes a little old lady trying to cross the road in a crosswalk.

The professional driver stops and signals for traffic to stop with his left hand so the lady can safely cross the road.

As the lady passes the truck, she turns her head to smile and wave to the professional driver, who stopped the traffic.

As the professional driver approaches the dump site, he notices a police car has pulled over a car 100 feet from a major intersection, creating a major traffic jam. The professional driver doesn’t get excited or impatient -he just waits patiently until he can safely pass the police car.

At the job site, he notices the truck in front of him has a huge rock stuck in the duals of his trailer. He gets the driver on the CB radio and advises him of the rock in his duals.

After the professional driver dumps his load and moves to the clean-off area, he sees the driver ahead of him with a dumbfounded look on his face, unable to figure out how to remove the boulder from his duals.

The professional driver jumps
out of his truck, cleans off his gates and hitch and ensures his dump controls are deactivated. He then grabs his trusty 24-inch hardwood 4×4 slab.

He then advises the driver to get into his truck and move forward half a wheel turn.

He motions the driver to stop, the professional driver places the slab between the duals under the rock and motions the driver to back up, pushing the huge rock out of his duals.

The other driver is amazed and how simple and fast the rock was removed from his duals. An instant respect has been earned by the professional driver. There’s no time to chat with the other driver, the clean-off area must be cleared to avoid congestion.

-The professional driver’s day has just begun. Check back next month for the conclusion.

-Ron Singer is owner of Ron Singer Truck Lines and president of the Alberta Construction Trucking Association. He can be reached at 403-244-4487 or by e-mail at ronsing@telus.net.ACTA’s Web site is www.myacta.ca.


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