Truck drivers don’t always have it easy. It’s not all idle chat on the CB and mountains of fried eggs at every truck stop. Often the job is hard work and both physically and mentally challenging. Long days, congested traffic, rude motorists and the constant stress of keeping you and your 30,000 lbs of metal and cargo out of harm’s way can make for a rough day at the office.
But like any job some truck driver jobs are tougher than the rest. Here are five that can make a truck driver sweat just reading about them.
1 – Ice Road Truckers
This is the driving job so life-threatening they made a TV series about it. And when you understand the risks involved it’s not hard to see why they get paid a whole lot more than regular drivers, sometimes twice as much fetching around $70,000 a year. Some of the hazards they face include freezing cabs, frequent breakdowns, low visibility and of course disappearing roads. Working in minus 50 degree temperatures and constantly worrying about the road opening up is enough to put off most drivers, but since it’s only for a few months there are still some willing to take the risk.
Rogue drivers who don’t like to follow the rules need not apply; convoy drivers who don’t respect the strict protocols on speed and following distances risk setting off under-ice waves that can fracture and destroy the entire road, sending everyone into the icy water below.
2 – Chemical Truckers
Chemical deliveries mean the driver needs to take extra care. Of course the chemicals could be anything from hairspray to paint to nuclear waste so the danger level really depends on exactly what the driver is moving. But these drivers know that in the event of an accident, even hairspray can be fatal, turning their truck into a blazing inferno in record quick time.
It’s no wonder that most employers will require drivers to have been through a safety training course such as WHMIS and have CDL training, to make sure they’re up to the task.
Chemical truckers also need to be familiar with routing restrictions that will limit what roads they can use to get to their destination.
3 – Truck Driving in Iraq
If the idea of driving a fully-laden oil tanker through the middle of a warzone, dodging bullets and driving around flaming wrecks, appeals to you then you might want to look into applying for a truck driver job in Iraq. Strangely enough there’s actually a high demand for these positions, with foreign drivers who see it as an opportunity to make some fast money.
Truck drivers in Iraq have been known to earn as much as $100,000 a year. But with the ever-present danger of being mortar-bombed, caught in a blinding sandstorm or enduring 100 degree temperatures, they earn it.
4 – Truck Driver on the Death Highway
Every year it is estimated that around 300 people die on the stretch of road from La Paz to Coroico in Bolivia. It is less than 50 miles long but is strewn with the wrecks of the vehicles that didn’t make it and stone cairns raised in honor of the dead.
Despite the dangers it is heavily used by both buses and heavy trucks, navigating their way along the torturous curves and deadly abysses, beating the oncoming traffic to the corners.
This would be a truck driving job only for those with a head for heights and nerves of steel. There’s no money in it but the adrenalin rush makes it a cheap thrill sport as your wheels come within 20 inches of sheer cliffs. But you better be quick, workers are getting closer to completing an alternative (and much safer) route.
5 – House Moving Trucks
Trucks are big enough to make the average driver nervous when it comes to maneuvering them from A to B, through tight streets, parked cars and congested traffic, always looking for obstacles that might get in their way.
But that’s not enough for some people. Some truck drivers are just gluttons for punishment, adding a full-sized house to their truck and navigate the resulting monstrosity to where it needs to go. The weight and size of the load seriously impacts on the truck’s handling and extra safety precautions need to be taken.
In some cases these dangerous missions will be undertaken at night to avoid the traffic and improve their chances of getting away with bumping parked cars on their way past.
Technology can help make it safer
Truck drivers doing dangerous jobs need all the help they can get to make their life easier, and reduce their anxiety levels (or at least help their families to stop worrying about them!). GPS technology has advanced a long way over the years and is now helping truck drivers route more safely to their destination, warning them about restricted roads and areas that prevent whatever HAZMAT (Hazardous Materials) they are carrying.
Technology is also working closely with new government legislation such as the CSA 2010 to improve safety standards for both truckers and other road users.
What’s your scariest truck driving job?