Mention “truck driver” to the general public and the cartoon image of a burly, half-educated, unshaven, brawny lout is conjured up. Deserved or not, that is the unfortunate stereotype…but what really is a truck driver and particularly a car hauler?
A car hauler is a guy expected to put anywhere between 6 and 12 motor vehicles in a box 75 feet long and 13 and a half feet high. The box is about 3 times the size of a normal house garage, the sides of which the average motorist finds himself scraping from time to time.
On newer equipment types, he places his 195 linear feet of cargo in his 75 foot container by manipulating approximately 23 valves, which activate almost 45 hydraulic cylinders or screws, which in turn place head ramps, cantilevers, stands, and decks in position to complete the loading puzzle. He is working with tolerances which consider 3 inches “all kinds of room,” and he practices his art in all kinds of weather.
When he is through with the loading process, he finds himself with a package which from the standpoints of height and length, is at the fringes of legal limits.
He is the biggest thing on the road with bridges, tree limbs, detours and road construction posing a constant threat. In all types of road conditions, daily commuters see him as an obstacle to be avoided at all costs. Although he may be lost, looking for a dealer he’s never been to before, in bumper to bumper traffic, concerned with overhead objects which may pop up at any time, he receives that amount of sympathy normally reserved for reptiles. He is cut in front of, cut inside of, tailgated and sudden stopped.
With the complexities of loading behind him, possibly terrible weather conditions and maybe even a breakdown or two, he frequently arrives at his destination only to find outrageous unloading conditions and hostile car checkers (if he can find them). Yet he is expected to maintain his composure because public relations are also a big part of his job. And when he finally gets his last unit off, he often proceeds to another terminal to pick up his backhaul and start all over again.
The next time you’re inclined to think of our drivers in those old cartoon images…ask yourself if you could do their job. Not many of us can, and for you to continue your job, he, God bless him, must continue to do his. Being a professional car hauler is not given to many, and one who has made it, is entitled to all your respect and admiration.