One of the things that led me towards purchasing the truck I did was the fuel economy results achieved by drivers I know who run the same truck. I struck lucky with my gearing set-up, as the one I bought from stock had my preferred choice of direct top gear. This is worth a few percent in fuel mileage and every penny counts. Because of this, my driving style has changed somewhat. As a company driver I always tried to achieve the best from my equipment, however my ultimate goal was the same as it is now – making money. I got paid in the same way, by the mile, but it was a set figure per mile, whereas now that I pay the bills my ultimate goal is not to put on as many miles as possible each day, but to make the miles I do run as profitable as possible.
I cruise around at 95 km/h, although my company has a 100 km/h policy, should I feel the need to speed up. Sometimes I do – usually because I don’t want to be in the way on a two-lane – but in reality it doesn’t matter what speed I go, there will always be a truck pushing me down the road. Not only do these idiots sit right on my bumper, they also sit out on the centre line and fill my mirrors with their headlights at night.
This really frustrates me and I cannot understand why drivers position themselves this way, when there are oncoming trucks doing the same. It’s a wonder that they don’t lose their mirrors.
I get the odd one shout me up on the CB, asking if I could go slower. Yes, I know it can be frustrating when you get stuck behind a slower truck, but 105 km/h in a 90 limit is just ridiculous; you can’t log that speed, so what’s the point?
Anyway, enough of that. It will never go away, it’s been happening since the second wheel was constructed and it’s an instinctive behaviour to be in front, but I haven’t had a moan in a while and if there’s one thing us British are good at it’s moaning. Combine that with truck driving and it’s a double whammy; add being an owner/operator into the mix and you get a hat trick.
But what is really sending me over the cam right now is the condition of the roads. Some of the potholes are big enough to launch a loaded semi in the air and the general condition of the highways is very similar to those I used to travel in the former communist countries of Eastern Europe. Whole sections of highway are falling apart. Every time I crash into a pothole I run the risk of damaging my equipment and there are certain routes that I avoid because they are so bad, but the alternatives are not much better.
Now I’m aware of the harsh winters and all that other nonsense that gets blamed for the state of our roads, but I don’t accept that. As far as I’m aware Canada has always been a little bit on the chilly side in winter. So why hasn’t anybody developed a road surface and foundation to cope with it? It isn’t like there’s no money available as annually $15 billion is raised in fuel taxes alone.
This isn’t a one-off either. In the six years that I’ve been in this country the fuel taxes have contributed $90 billion to the Canadian economy and from what I can see, very little of that has been poured back into the highway infrastructure.
Now I don’t want to turn this in to a political thing, but this money is being frittered away on stuff that isn’t of any importance to our industry and as we are contributing the vast majority of that money, I think it’s only reasonable to expect to get some value for our money, it’s pretty clear that this is not happening.
There are quite a lot of construction projects going on, but they’re just papering over the cracks and this lack of proper investment in our roads is why they have gotten in such a dreadful state.
This has highlighted one thing though, my truck was not built on a Monday morning as it still hasn’t developed any rattles despite the worst the Canadian roads can throw at it.
It does however have one fault. It’s not huge, but it is something that needs fixing and it is the only thing on the list that I will be presenting to the dealer when it goes in for its first (56,000-km) service.
It has an alignment issue, the steering wheel is a little off centre, which messes with my OCD, but the main thing is that it pulls to the right a little, so it requires constant pressure to run straight. This makes my wrist ache after a few hours and it will also be chewing up my steer tires, so it’s very important that I get it fixed as soon as possible.
I’m being a bit vague about which truck I bought for one simple reason, it was my personal choice. I believe it to be the best truck out there, but my criteria may be different from yours.
I’m also only running the one truck, so it may not actually be the best, one of its competitors may have been a better choice. But I’m happy with my choice and that’s the most important thing.
Even though I have been vague about both the truck and the company I’m signed on to, some of you have worked it out and I’ve had a few of you come over to say hello.
Anyway, I would like to say thanks to you all for reading this and if you do spot me out on the road, come over and say hi. I’ll even let you buy me a coffee if you insist.