Q: How do you use the Internet when you’re on the road?
May 1, 2012
BRADFORD, Ont. – In the old days of long-haul trucking – some would say the “good” old days – solitude was part of the job description, with only the camaraderie of fellow CB radio users to keep drivers company...
BRADFORD, Ont. – In the old days of long-haul trucking – some would say the “good” old days – solitude was part of the job description, with only the camaraderie of fellow CB radio users to keep drivers company until the next truck stop pay phone. Cell phones changed all that, and with smartphones and in-cab laptops fast becoming the norm, on-road Internet access is allowing truckers to stay connected like never before.
With news, weather and road reports available at the touch of a button, not to mention the ability to keep in touch with family and friends via outlets like e-mail, Facebook and Skype, the Internet is helping to reshape and modernize the job of professional driver in new and interesting ways. To find out how drivers are making use of the technology on the road – if at all – we went to the Husky Truck Stop in Bradford, Ont.
Stephen Taylor, an owner/operator with Earl Hardy Trucking out of Woodstock, Ont., uses his smartphone to access the latest news and weather, but admits he’s more likely to use the phone for calling dispatch than surfing the Net. “I just use the phone part of it. I have an American plan so it’s a lot cheaper to use it for now. I guess if you’re sitting still and you have time to type (I would use the Internet more),” he says.
Rob Archibald, a recently graduated driver from Barrie, Ont., says that, once hired, he’ll likely only use the Internet for GPS while on the road and for entertainment in the evenings, but says he doesn’t find the value in social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
“I don’t even touch that stuff,” he says. “I don’t need to tell people every five minutes that I’m blowing my nose or that I’m reading such-and-such book. It’s just not me.”
Kurt Ackerman, a driver with Barrie, Ont.-based Classic Towing, says he uses the Internet for maps on the road and occasionally calls for a tow truck are e-mailed or texted to drivers’ phones. Ackerman also uses Facebook, not just to keep in touch with family, but also to connect with other tow truck drivers.
“I belong to a towing and recovery group (on Facebook) and we are forever messaging each other – different techniques and incidents and different stuff we tow, sending each other pictures.”
Ackerman also notes that some companies are using the Internet as a selling point to get new drivers, advertising that drivers can receive e-mails in their trucks from family.
John Peters, a driver with Neil Transport out of Winnipeg, Man., doesn’t use the Internet at all on the road – though he says he’d like to.
“I would love to have a laptop in my truck, but I find it too expensive, so I keep it simple,” he says. “When I’m home, my wife always tells me that I am on the computer way too much. Because I surf right before I leave the house, I look over my trip – where I am going what I am doing. If I was able to have something like that in the truck – if the company would help pay for it – I would use it, absolutely.”
Gerry Costigan, a driver with South Simcoe Freight out of Bradford, Ont., says he doesn’t use the Internet, period – whether at home or on the road.
“Fifty years old, I’ve never touched a mouse,” he says. “I have a wind-up alarm clock. I’ve got a cell phone, but I don’t even know how to text. It’s a choice I’ve made.”
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