Lessons Learned from a Professional Driver

On February 6, 2018, the Ohio Trucking Association’s Director of Membership, Evan Newman, participated in a ride along with K-Limited Carrier, Ltd.’s Scott Harrison. The following story is a recap of some of the many lessons learned that day.

On February 6, 2018, I took my first ride in a tractor trailer, and had the time of my life. By the end of the day, I was on information overload and to be honest, I am still trying to decompress. Our drivers have a lot to keep in mind for the safety of themselves and those around them. As you can imagine, after one day in the cab of a 2015 International Lonestar, I am far from an expert. Though, I had an excellent teacher: America’s Road Team Captain and K-Limited Carrier, Ltd.’s Scott Harrison. The day was a testament to the dedication, perseverance, and attitude that it requires to be one of America’s professional drivers. I look forward to the next opportunity I receive to live a day in the life of one of America’s finest: a truck driver.

Patience Is the Key to Safety

Prior stepping in to Scott’s pristine 2015 International Lonestar, he emphasized the necessary patience required to complete a pre-trip inspection. Scott explained to me that various parts of the pre-trip might be rushed, but for every portion that is rushed, a bigger problem is created further down in line. Patience is the key to safety in a truck driver’s workplace. Not only during the pre-trip inspection are our drivers exhibiting patience as a virtue, but they are doing it at every turn, stoplight, highway on-ramp, and during every minute that their clock runs. As I said in my introduction, our professional drivers have a lot to keep in mind during their day to day work. They must not only focus on safety for themselves, but for the safety of all passenger vehicles driving around them.

Professionalism Is the Key to Changing Our Narrative

A safe driving record is required if one wishes to become one of America’s Road Team Captains. In addition to a perfect driving record, one must highlight their professionalism to a panelist of interviewers. Scott exemplifies this professionalism every single day. Scott and I were transporting a load of aluminum sulfate from Middletown, Ohio to Chillicothe, Ohio on my shadow day. In order to get the aluminum sulfate from one plant to the next, Scott had to maneuver through some small towns. For an everyday American with no insider knowledge of the trucking industry, a truck driving in your neighborhood is an annoyance. Scott was sure to acknowledge people in the community; waving to them as they backed up to give him more room to turn safely, or even just waving to them from his seat at a stop sign. Further, he knew the names and stories of the facility managers and security teams at each of the plants we visited on Tuesday, February 6, 2018. These nonverbal and verbal cues are a sign of the relationships made between professional drivers and civilians. These relationships exhibit the professionalism that is necessary to change the misconception of who are drivers really are.

Perseverance

Whether you want to call it perseverance or strategic agility, drivers have to have it. Scott and I arrived in Chillicothe on a cold, damp, and windy day. We prepped the tanker that was to be drained of aluminum sulfate. We learned quickly that something was wrong with either Scott’s pump or the plants pump. I watched for nearly two hours as Scott tampered with the pump, made phone calls, requested tools, and retrieved a rubber mallet. Finally, with a few bolts turned and a rubber mallet put into place, the internal bypass preload spring housing part of the pump began working. Scott could have shouted and complained about the mishap. I may have easily given up and taken the load back to Middletown to sit until the pump or the facility pump was fixed by someone else. Nonetheless, Scott persevered and used patience to get the job done.

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Attitude Rules the Day

As a truck driver, you are spending countless hours on the road away from family, friends, and loved ones. Drivers miss important anniversaries, birthday parties, little league games, and more. They could easily let this negatively affect their disposition. Though, from my experience with professional drivers, they love their job and do not take the work they do lightly. They are the knights of the road, ensuring that highways are safe and the goods that we have become accustomed to seeing at the grocery store, department store, gas station, and more are well stocked. Though it could be easy to complain, especially about a malfunctioning pump or something similar, drivers are some of the most positive and dedicated workers that I have had the pleasure of knowing.

Patience, professionalism, perseverance, and attitude are the keys to a driver’s success, safety, and happiness on the road. There are a lot of factors that go in to the driver recruitment and retention problems that our industry faces, but if leadership can provide an understanding of these key factors it may lead to better retention rates.

I would like to give a special thanks to Scott Harrison and K-Limited Carrier, Ltd. for giving me the opportunity to live A Day in the Life of a Professional Driver.

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