Life on the road  

Truck drivers and their tales 

The life of a truck driver can seem like a daunting experience. A small cabin becomes your home and the A1 becomes your best and worst friend. Cars hate your presence and the pressure of transporting goods from A to B is on your back.

But what is life on the road really like? Are service stations as "grotty" as they seem and how hard is it being away from your loved ones?

Three truck drivers tell their tales of what an average week in their life is like. The daily struggles they have to face on UK roads and the highlights of living their life on the road.

Meet Chris Sweeney, a 35-year-old truck driver from Redhouse, Sunderland. Chris has been living his life on the road for almost 15 years and loves his job. He said: " I wake up at 4am on a Monday morning and head to work. I'll put away my gear for the week such as my clothes and food and I'll do my checks on the truck."

New advances in technology has made life easier for Chris as he has recently had a microwave installed so he can have microwaved meals. Before this, it would cost Chris an average of £20 per night on food. He said: "It usually costs £20 to have a shower and use the facilities in service stations, but at Ferguson’s we’re quite lucky as all of the depots have free services we can park in and use.

Chris has a 4-year-old daughter, Sophia and a wife, Tracy. He is grateful for FaceTime and social media as they make it easier to talk to his family. He said: “my dad was a truck driver and growing up we wouldn’t see him for two weeks at a time. But now Tracy will call me every night and I can see them both. I’m doing this job for them."

Chris once carried dead animal bodies in the back of his wagon. That is the weirdest thing he has ever carried.

Chris spoke about the "truck driver reputation" and said that other drivers on the road don't like truck drivers. 

"It is a tiring job and sleeping in the cabin isn't like a hotel. It’s small and uncomfortable but you get used to it. In the older days there wasn’t such things as night heaters and it would have been cold for them. We’re lucky now."

He says that without truck drivers the country would be “hungry and naked” and that is another reason why he does his job.

Meet Paul Gregory, 55 from Birtley, Gateshead. He has been a long distance truck driver for 20 years. He currently works for Gap Haulage. Before his life on the road, he was a firefighter and a transport manager for local truckers. Paul has two older children, a wife and 8 grandchildren who he misses while he is away. He said: "it is hard being away from home especially at Christmas time but this is the best way to make a decent living."

Paul has done the most miles in the past week out of the other two drivers travelling from Gateshead down to Plymouth and then North again to Bradford.

Paul once carried a huge Yacht on the back of his wagon costing over 3 million pounds. This was the weirdest and most expensive thing he has ever carried. 

He mentioned that his life is also very tiring and it is hard being away from home. He said: "this isn't just a job, it’s a lifestyle."

Meet Peter ross, 58 from Washington, Sunderland. He has been a long distance truck driver for over 30 years, the longest of the three drivers. He has three older children and two young grandchildren who he misses when he is away from home. He said: "around the Christmas time it is hard being away from your family but it's your job." He talked about the various important checks that he has to do when he gets to work.

Peter spoke about how the development of satnavs has made it easier for drivers to get from A to B. He said that sometimes being a truck driver can be very lonely and that "it's great when someone calls you." Peter said that new advances in technology helps him on a nighttime so he can FaceTime his wife and family. "This is why I do this job, to give my family a better life."

He said that he has once carried an industrial oven and hard steel works costing over £60,000, the most expensive thing he has carried. . 

In just four days, Chris, Paul and Peter have driven across most of the country averaging at approximately 3000 miles each and just under 9000 between them. Their average drive time works out as over 70 hours per week. Here is a map of a typical journey the three men will do in one week.  

Being a truck driver may not be as glamorous as most jobs but for these three drivers it is their life and soul. They truly do spend their life on the road.