Hey there – my first Blog!
I have been trucking for about 30 years and a lot has changed in that time. When I got my AZ licence, I was 18 and was one of the first to get an A licence with the Ministry of Transportation in Ontario. Licensing before that was a ‘Chauffer’s Licence’. It allowed a driver to drive any commercial vehicle. The road test was just a ride around in some commercial vehicle. The change happened in and around when Canada adopted the “National Safety Code” and we ended up with the Classified Licences we have today. The Class A, B, C, D, F, G and M… in Ontario or, the Class 1, 2, 3… in the other provinces. Ontario just likes to be different. In 1989, we got the Air Brake Endorsement added to our licence for when we drove an air brake equipped vehicle. Twenty more questions were added to the 40 questions for the written test and a practical test was added to finally get what we have today – our AZ Transportation licence. The AZ allows a driver to drive a tractor trailer and a Dump truck or a straight truck (DZ). At 18 years old, I was just getting out of high school and had no clue what I was going to do.
I remember talking it over with my dad and he spelled it out every clearly. You either work or go to school. I couldn’t just stay at home and not do anything. I struggled in school. It was not fun working hard and only just getting by. I always say that grade 4 and grade 6 were the best 4 years of my life. I enjoyed driving. Having my own car, on my 16th birthday I drove to school every day. I thought, why not become a Truck Driver? Looks like easy work. I got a chance to go for a ride with a friend of my dad’s. We picked up a trailer from Cambridge Ontario, and drove 8 hours to Montreal -me in the jump seat. We drove all night to make our 6 am delivery. It took about 4 hours to un-load the 48 foot trailer full of boxes packed to the ceiling with potato chips. No Load Security issues with that load!
We then returned to Cambridge, empty.This was long before Log Books were being used in Canada. I was hooked.
It was wall to wall trucks at 3 in the morning, all doing the same thing, making that early morning delivery. Talladega- with an 18-wheeler. There was a real respect among drivers. Sitting up there in the cab, high over the other traffic, talking on the CB and running with some very interesting drivers. It took Defensive Driving to a whole other level. There is an art to passing and being passed with another truck driver. Flashing of the head lights to let the other driver know when they are clear to come back into your lane. They would, in turn, say thanks by flashing their trailer lights. On two lane highways, the driver coming towards you will wave or flash the cab light just to say ‘hi’.
There was a sense of belonging to a very elite group. You had skills that normal car driver’ didn’t have. Other driver’s looked at me and said ‘So, you want to be a trucker eh? ‘ ‘It’s long hours. Are you sure you’re ready for that?’ You bet I was ready! Today! Go to an accredited school. Get certification. It’s the way to go. It will help get your first driving job. Take any job that’s offered to you. There’s lots of opportunity in long haul driving. Like anything, the more you do it the better you should get. The benefits as Trucker Dispatch states will come with experience. The wages are good these days. You can make 40 to 50 thousand the first year if you’re willing to work. Not bad for what the government calls unskilled labour.
As for me, 30+ years of just driving around burnin’ fuel …..