Not everyone has it in them to be a trucker. It takes patience, grit, and the expertise to be able to navigate tricky roads across the country. As if that wasn’t enough, truckers in Canada and Alaska—like the ones on History channel's hit show Ice Road Truckers—require all those skills and more.
Ice truckers endure dangerous weather conditions that pose a risk not only to their valuable hauls but their very lives as well. Each day they get behind the wheel of their big rig, they’re making a gamble of arriving at their destination in one piece. It’s a dangerous game that only a handful are up to enduring.
We’re going to look at rules these truckers have to follow if they want to live to drive another day. Be sure to also see strange rules big rig truck drivers have to follow.
15 Make Do Without Cell Phones
If ice truckers get in a bind, they may have to rely on their own ingenuity to get out of a situation rather than call in for help.
As The Job Network points out, there’s very little if any cell phone reception in many parts where ice truckers have to haul.
14 Be Sure The Truck Is Winter Ready
Trucks have to be able to withstand the cold weather and that takes a lot of dough.
According to CDL Life News, it can cost up to $10,000 just to outfit a truck with what it needs to stand up to the cold. It’s in the driver’s best interest to ensure their truck is up to par.
13 Think Highly Of Nature
Truckers will go far if they heed nature at every turn. As one trucker, Harry McDonald, put it to Fleet Owner, “We’ve never had anyone seriously injured or killed because we drive at a very slow fleet speed, respecting the terrain.”
Those who are more cautious and consider the environment are more likely to come out unscathed.
12 Know How To Navigate Hairpin Turns
There are many obstacles an ice trucker has to deal with on a daily basis depending on what route they take. One such danger includes hairpin turns. These force drivers to make sharp maneuvers that can put trucks close to precarious ledges.
Factor in ice, which can make for a slippery road, and it only elevates the danger.
11 Stay Warm
The first thing that sticks out about trucking in colder climates is, naturally, the weather.
According to The Job Network, it can get as cold as 60 degrees below zero in areas where ice truckers drive. It’s essential they have warm clothes and bedding if they don’t want to freeze to death.
10 Look Out For Ice Fractures
If a trucker is unlucky, they may encounter a fracture in ice roads. According to Truckzeal, these breaks in the road can put trucks at risk, potentially leading to serious mechanical problems.
It’s up to drivers to be on the constant lookout for fractures and avoid them at all costs.
9 Plan Routes Ahead And Look Out For Cliffs
Another danger ice truckers face is cliffs. Many of their routes are up in mountains or on roads with steep drop-offs separated by a flimsy railing. The site Fleet Owner even reports that in areas of Alaska, truckers can face cliffs that are 100 feet high.
Since it only takes one false move to end it all, truckers should plan the trip ahead and make sure they’re aware of these cliffs.
8 Watch Out For White Outs
A whiteout can cause problems for truckers. That’s where drivers have to navigate roads with limited visibility.
In a clip of Ice Road Truckers as per History’s YouTube channel, driver George Spears said, “When you’re in a whiteout, it's extremely nerve-racking cause you don't know where you're going—you can't see.”
7 Don’t Take Shortcuts
In an episode of Ice Road Truckers, as per Truckers News, Darrell decided to take a road that wasn’t part of the official network of routes. While the path ended up being a faster way, it wasn’t a safe way to go either.
When torn at a crossroads like this, ice truckers ought to err on the side of the longer, safer route.
6 Stay Focused And Keep It Together
Stress is part of any job, but the type that emerges from ice trucking may be a different kind entirely. Lisa Kelly once had some truck woes that needed fixing, as Trucker News points out, which sent her in a crisis.
It’s best to remain calm at all times and never lose hope.
5 Settle Down For The Night If Weather Doesn’t Improve
In a profession that’s all about delivering on time, it’s hard to show restraint in settling down for the night while putting the journey on hold.
As one of the show’s drivers, Burke, proved in an episode, settling down for the night not only helps the driver get some much-needed rest, but also helps them figure out the next day's journey (Truckers News).
4 Keep The Truck Warm
Not only do drivers need to avoid the cold, but they’re responsible for keeping the truck warm as well. If a truck becomes too cold, certain areas can become compromised.
For example, The Job Network notes that the cold can alter steel, which accounts for certain areas of the truck like the frame.
3 Listen For Ice Cracking
With truckers having to contend with colder climates, there’s always the chance they have to drive over a frozen lake.
According to CDL Life News, drivers have even heard and seen ice crack near them. It’s best if truckers keep both their eyes and ears peeled for suspect ice.
2 Know The Mechanics Of The Truck Inside And Out
Ice truckers shouldn’t go into the trade unless they have a robust knowledge of not just driving a big rig but fixing one. These trucks exert a lot during long-distance hauls, so they’re liable to break down and have issues.
It’s a must-have skill to be able to get trucks up and running again after they’ve had an issue, and to do so requires a deep knowledge of how they work.
1 Obey Speed Limit
Big rigs have a cap for how fast they can do depending on the state. In places like Alaska, according to The Department of Energy, trucks can go no more than 65 mph.
It’s important for ice truckers to obey this rule for their own safety, and perhaps even go well below the limit if they want to be extra careful.
Sources: The Job Network, Truckzeal, YouTube, Truckers News, CDL Life News, The Department of Energy, Fleet Owner