Why I decided to run Canada only

by Mark Lee

It’s all downhill from now on; I’ve had the best time of year for fuel mileage, nice sunny days, light winds and summer blend fuels. From now on I can expect to see my numbers drop significantly.

They say that winter weather and fuels can bring a drop of up to two miles per gallon, so that’s what I’ve got to look forward to. Although with the numbers I’ve been getting, that will still see me hovering around the 8 mpg (imperial) mark, which is just a distant dream for some trucks in ideal conditions, so it isn’t all bad.

Except that I’m going to be lucky to get anywhere near 8 mpg and it isn’t only weather and fuel blends that will see my figures plummet, I’m about to start another new chapter in my trucking life. An opportunity has presented itself and I intend to take full advantage of it.

On the surface it seems as though it would be every owner/operator’s worst nightmare; I’m going to be down on miles, my mpg is going to take a huge hit, the loads are heavier and there is a lot of extra work involved, not just picks and drops in a city environment, but it also requires actual physical labour from me and I did not become a truck driver to work up a sweat, believe me!

The one plus factor in the equation is really the only thing that matters, my revenue and more importantly, my profits will rise significantly and that is the most important thing for any owner/operator.

My whole perspective has changed since I took the plunge into truck ownership again. I was lucky enough to have many years of truck ownership back in England to help me make the right decisions this time around. Many of those decisions have been made from learning from mistakes I made in the past and the biggest mistake any owner/operator can make is to think like a truck driver.

If I made my business decisions whilst wearing my truck driver’s hat I would be driving a custom large car down the road at the speed limit, my destinations would likely be similar to those I used to run before buying the truck, like Florida, California and NYC for example.

Getting laid over down on either coast wouldn’t bother me too much (obviously I’d be getting layover pay) especially as winter is approaching, a day or two at the beach and a spot of polishing wouldn’t be a bad way to spend some time.

This is in direct contrast to what I do now. I have an aerodynamic truck almost completely devoid of any bling, in fact the only aftermarket stuff I’ve fitted has been practical things like a moose bumper and extra lights so the bumper can just be a plain old bumper, rather than an actual moose bumper.

I stay north of the border too as I believe it is more productive. Seventy in seven, 13 hours driving and being able to reset my book whenever I want allows me to get more done in less time, so I get my miles and also get time at home with the family. Although I do question this logic on a daily basis from mid-November through to the end of March, especially when one of my so-called friends calls me from Florida when I’m approaching the dreaded flashing amber lights at a chain-up area.

Now I don’t just make those decisions on a whim, those decisions are made for me as it happens, my personal views don’t come into the equation, but an equation is all it is really. If the numbers (profits) add up to more, then my decision is made. I based the decision on which truck to buy, which carrier to lease on with and where I wanted to run all on that simple question: which is going to earn me the most money?

My staying north of the border came about by accident, really. First I wanted to quit smoking, so I went on a prescription medication that was allowed up here, but forbidden in the land of the free (go figure)!

It never worked anyway, but during the time I was on it, I was dispatched to run Canada only and I found my wage packet got bigger and I saw my home a lot more. If it worked as a company driver, it was bound to work as an owner/operator too. Right now there is another factor.

I’m in the process of applying for citizenship in my adopted country and part of the criteria is that I am in the country for a specified time period, which is three years.

My new deal is going to help me achieve that too as once again, I will not be allowed in the land of the free. In fact there are quite a lot of places I will not be able to go from now on, my 41-metre long, nine axle, 63,500-kg wiggle wagon will make sure of that.


A fourth generation trucker and trucking journalist, Mark Lee uses his 25 years of transcontinental trucking in Europe, Asia, North Africa and now North America to provide an alternative view of life on the road.

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