Have you ever feared for your life while on the job?
September 1, 2006
FERGUS, Ont. - Most truck drivers are so focused on avoiding the dangers of the open road that the threat of physical violence is probably one of the furthest things from their minds. However, not eve...
September 1, 2006
Adam Ledlow, Assistant Editor
FERGUS, Ont. – Most truck drivers are so focused on avoiding the dangers of the open road that the threat of physical violence is probably one of the furthest things from their minds. However, not every trucker is lucky enough to avoid such confrontations. In June, a trucker named Donald Woods was found shot to death in his truck near a plaza in Pickering, Ont. The 35-year-old from Athens, Ont. was apparently killed for the load of meat he was carrying. Though most cargo thefts are not usually lethal, they seem to be getting more frequent. Some estimate annual losses from trailer theft in excess of $1 billion. Truck News stopped by the 21st annual Fergus Truck Show to find out if drivers ever feel threatened while on the job and what they do to keep safe.
Steve Darlington, a driver with Fleetway Transport, says Canadian drivers are often at a higher risk when hauling in the US.
“Canadians are very naive. When we’re up here and we drive around, we don’t really know what it’s like in some places,” he admits. “When you go to the states and people see Ontario licence plates, you can get picked on, because if something happens there, you’ve got to come all the way back to Canada to do something about it.”
One trucker who says he’s never worried about where he’s going is Gordon Pintimalli, a driver with Emjaayco Transporting, who’s been driving since he was “knee-high to a grasshopper” (more than 20 years).
In all those years, Pintimalli says he’s never had a scary situation.
“In my situation, I’m well-known all over Canada and the US and I know a lot of drivers, so I don’t even lock my truck when I go in a truck stop. My truck is known everywhere and they know who I am. They know not to mess with me. I’m Italian. They fear the mafia or something,” he says with a laugh.
Andrew Howell, a driver with Floyd Gibbons Trucking in Branchton, Ont., says if he were faced with a life-or-death situation with a thief, he would just as soon give up his load as get injured.
“Let them take the load. I don’t give a shit; it’s insured,” he says. “‘Leave me at the side of the road, give me my cell phone, take my truck and I’ll call a cab and report the truck stolen in two hours.'”
Howell says he tries to stay away from bad neighbourhoods and truck stops, but beyond that there’s not much else a trucker can do.
“It’s illegal to carry a weapon with you, so you’re down to a baseball bat or a tire iron, meanwhile they put a bullet in your head.”
Tyler Darbyson, a driver out of Bolton, Ont., said he has feared for his life many times during his career.
“I’ve been left in the ditch for dead. Fifteen years ago I was robbed point blank,” he says “It’s a hard life, man. Even if you’ve been someplace before, you never know what’s going to happen when you get there. Trucking’s not like it used to be.”
With some scary experiences peppering his past, Darbyson uses the infamous wisdom of the country-singin’ five-piece, the Road Hammers, as his inspiration on the road.
“‘I’m a road man, a load man, 18 wheels and a serious plan. Ain’t nothin’ gonna go gettin’ outta hand while I’m behind the wheel,'” he coos from the band’s song, “I’m a Road Hammer.”