Equipment better, though more dear

by James Menzies

SASKATOON, Sask. – Kelvin Kell of Saskatoon took a 14-year hiatus from the trucking industry before getting back behind the wheel a couple of years ago to haul general freight and reefer units for Blucher Transport.

When he got back into trucking it was as if he was starting from scratch, the equipment had changed so much since he first hit the highway.

“As far as I’m concerned, trucks were nowhere near where they are now,” says Kell.

“There have been a lot of improvements and they’ve become much more driver-friendly.”

While Kell says there was a greater chance of being stranded along the side of the highway during his previous stint as a truck driver, he didn’t mind driving the older trucks.

“They weren’t that bad really, it was just the reliability of the equipment that was poor,” says Kell, who returned to his roots as a driver to fill in for a friend who currently isn’t able to drive the truck. One of the things that’s struck Kell about the improvements to equipment over the past few years, is that it hasn’t been restricted to just the truck itself. Trailers have also come a long way.

“Especially the air ride suspensions for one thing,” says Kell of the wagons he pulls.

Part of the reason Kell lauds the new equipment running the highways today is the truck he spends his time in is a Volvo bedecked with all the trimmings.

None of the trucks on the road 10 or 15 years ago can even compare to the new trucks of today, he says. However, as truck makers perfect their trade and build better and more reliable vehicles, there is a cost that comes with that.

The cost of a new truck was about $30,000 just a few short decades ago. Now a shiny new piece of iron can fetch well over $100,000. And it doesn’t end there – trailers, tires, fuel – it’s all gotten more expensive in recent years and rates have done little to offset the cost.

However, Kell says one of the joys of being a company driver is that the cost of the equipment isn’t in any way, his concern.

“That sure makes driving more enjoyable,” he points out.

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