Atlas van operators offer insights into life on the road

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TORONTO, Ont. – A broad-ranging survey by Atlas Van Lines is offering extensive insights into the business practices and personal preferences of its van operators. And it highlights a few of the more unusual loads that have been hauled along the way.

Close to 363 of them answered the King of the Road Survey, providing details about everything from time on the road, to pastimes, and buying habits.

The survey also showed that the operators are largely playing close attention to public health protocols during Covid-19. Seventy-one percent are immediately sanitizing and washing their hands after fueling, and 66% are wearing gloves while pumping fuel.

(Photo: Atlas Van Lines)

Thirty-one percent said they spend more than 40 weeks a year on the road, with 28% spending 31 to 40 weeks on the road. The remainder were split between fewer than 20 weeks and 20-30 weeks. Twenty-eight percent said they stay at a hotel 12 times a year or less when traveling for work.

Overwhelmingly, time away from family is identified as the most difficult part of life on the road. It was recorded by 72% of respondents.

Forty precent drive 50,000 to 74,999 miles per year (roughly 80,000 to 120,000 km). While 27% see average trips run 401 to 1,000 miles (645 to 1,600 km), 22% see averages of more than 2,000 miles (3,200 km).

They’re relatively happy with their jobs, too. Ninety-one percent of those who participated in the company’s survey said they were “very likely” to recommend Atlas as an employer for friends or colleagues on the road. Forty-nine percent were “extremely satisfied” with being an Atlas van operator.

For most of the van operators (61%), the top reasons for being a van operator involve meeting people across the country, and the freedom of working on the highway rather than in an office. For 56%, the draw of entrepreneurship was high on the list.

In terms of communications, 67% of those commenting on their CB choices said they equipped trucks with a Cobra unit. Sixty-nine percent use Omnitracs ELDs.

Ninety-four percent use smartphones to connect with family members, check email, and us social media. (Hello, if you’re reading this article!) They’re split in their preferences of Apple and Android devices, although Apple holds a 7% edge.

When asked about the favorite scenic spots where they appreciate the view that might be missed by less-seasoned travelers, the top Canadian settings included the Rocky Mountains and Cape Breton Island.

Ontario was identified by 54% of respondents as home to the best rest stops in the country.

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John G. Smith is Newcom Media's vice-president - editorial, and the editorial director of its trucking publications -- including Today's Trucking,, and Transport Routier. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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