Q: What issue most affects the mood of the Canadian trucker?

by Shawna Sutherland

BELLEVILLE, Ont. – A life at the wheel gives a trucker time to think, about both what is right with the industry and what is wrong. Truck News asked those passing through the 10 Acre Truck Stop on Hwy. 401 in Belleville, Ont. about the issues that most affect the mood behind the wheel.

Jerry Ryan hauls products for Mor-co Carriers in his Western Star, delivering everything from paper to baby food. Overall, he’s fairly happy with his own job and the quality of life within the trucking industry.

Like many of his colleagues, however, he’s frustrated by the ever-increasing fuel prices that are gripping the nation.

“It just costs too much to run a truck anymore,” says Ryan.

Money is invariably one of the big concerns on the minds of drivers, and that’s why UTL employee Lillian Magnusson can relate with Ryan’s statement.

But she also says that congested highways have the most direct impact on trucker moods on a day-to-day basis. That’s something she experiences at the wheel of her Mack, hauling regular shipments of “anything and everything under the sun”.

Ben Hachey agrees that traffic is a hassle, particularly in these days of just-in-time delivery practices that allow little room for relaxed schedules.

He says it’s his number-one peeve as he takes to the road at the wheel of a Freightliner Classic XL for Quality Carriers.

Eric Deschenes of Dewar Trucking is another trucker who finds himself facing the same situation. He makes his way down the highway with loads of lumber and steel behind his International. He says he feels the pressure build up as he negotiates heavy highway traffic.

The traffic issue, in turn, raises questions about the ability of drivers to safely carry loads to their final destinations, he adds.

Dan Prouse, at the wheel of a Volvo, believes that the biggest problem is a lack of respect and fair treatment.

“The way we’re treated and are respected can affect a trucker’s mood… because we don’t get any,” he says.

Mark Gorgerat, who hauls loads of general freight with his 1997 International for Muir’s Transport, says trucking was a different business a mere 15 years ago. The problem is that the work environment has changed for the worse while fuel prices have gone up and rates haven’t kept pace.

“We’re working for wages we worked for 15 years ago. I don’t know anybody in the working industry that makes what they did 15 years ago,” he says.

Jon Byford steers a Volvo for Japanline, delivering rolled paper. All he wants is a break on fuel prices and some additional rest to improve his mood.

“Being on the road for a long time, sometimes two days in a row has an affect on a driver’s mood,” said Byford.

“I would say that the issue that affects us the most right now would be money,” says Andre Ducharme, who trucks for XTL in a 1996 Freightliner. “Money is the main thing right now because prices of cars, prices of fuel, food, and everything goes up. Everything seems to go up except our wages, so it’s got to be the main issue right now,” says Ducharme.

Michelle Barry, though, continues to look to the cost of the fuel that she needs to pour into her Ford as she hauls goods for Hostess/Frito Lay.

“When the price of fuel is so high it takes away from our paychecks and generally changes the overall mood of all truckers,” she says.

Stephane Harnois fingers the general public as the source of sour moods. The general society doesn’t understand the value of truckers’ services he says. Instead, Instead Harnois they belittle the occupation and make truckers feel like anything but humans.

Jack Clements, employed by Quinte Foods Service, points at fuel costs as the main cause of grief, but blames the government for failing to help truckers in this plight.

Daniel Neveu, a Freightliner-driving JCG employee, says he gains complete satisfaction from his job and employer.

“For me, well I am a company driver so I don’t have any qualms. Fuel is no bother because we don’t pay for it ourselves, it’s our owner that pays for it. But traffic is bad and annoying and the rates are too.

“Sometimes you do get bonuses in certain places and other places you don’t, so you get a higher pay at other companies. But I’m good where I am … I’m happy,” he said.

Daniel Desrosiers of Marcan is more affected by waiting times than anything else. He feels the mood of the Canadian trucker is affected by dealing with the waits associated with the pick-up, delivery and loading of everything.

“Sometimes you have 20 to 24 hours a week of waiting. But the load still has too be delivered, which cuts into the amount of sleeping time you have,” said Desrosiers.

For Lindsay Irwin, alertness is equally critical, and when traffic becomes a hassle, your job becomes increasingly more difficult to handle safely and effectively. Hauling paper and newsprint with his International truck for Kruger can be as stressful as the day is long, he says.

He’s most concerned about daily traffic, and tries to keep his mood in check at all times.

“It’s no wonder why there is so much road rage. If people would just sit down and take a break, breathe a little, and think a little (the drives would be easier),” says Irwin. n

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