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Trucking Routes: the Good, Bad, and Ugly

Illustration for article titled Trucking Routes: the Good, Bad, and Ugly

Truck drivers experience a lot of road of this country. They spend their working lives driving around and seeing the sights. One of the most frequent complaints voices by people who live on the road is that, after a while, everything starts to look the same. The world becomes a blur.

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So it may come as some surprise that truckers do have strong feelings about many trucking routes. Some routes are a blast to ride through, while others are a slog. A few studies and research groups have interviewed truckers about their favorite and least favorite paths through which to travel.

The Good

Software Advice recently published some research on truckers’ favorite routes. In this study, respondents were most likely to identify long routes as their favorite routes. This makes sense; semi trucks are designed to haul over long distances at high speeds, and open road is where these machines will do their most effective work.

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The open road also gives trucker’s a strong sense of freedom. For obvious reasons, people enjoy the idea of getting a fat paycheck to drive a thousand miles away from their bosses. Big open space lead to endless possibilities and plenty of time to sit and think. And of course longer trips lead to bigger paychecks.

The other thing that truckers love is a nice truck stop. Truck stops are designed with truckers in mind, and truckers appreciate the help. Top notch stops like The World’s Largest Truck Stop in Iowa are decked out with roadlife amenities, and every truck driver can exactly what he or she needs, whenever he or she wants it. A good truck stop is also a great place to meet similar folks.

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The Bad

Driving a truck can be a hard job. So many things can go wrong: accidents, traffic jams, refrigerator malfunctions that spoil your goods, etc. There are nearly 4000 truck related fatalities each year in the United States. And your route can make a huge impact on whether your trip goes well or poorly.

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So what are some things truckers hate about certain routes? In the Software Advice study mentioned earlier, truckers tended to rate New England poorly. Why? Because New England routes tend to be congested and slow moving. Big rigs are not designed for city driving; they accelerate slowly, don’t make sharp turns gracefully, and are hard to handle in tight squeezes.

Bad roads are also a common complaint. In one survey, many truckers called out I-80 through Illinois as particularly troublesome, citing everpresent potholes as one big flaw. Driving long hours over rough, bumpy terrain can be loud and irritating. It can also hurt your back.

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Mountain routes can be tough, too. Have you ever seen those “runaway truck” ramps that are scattered throughout the Rocky Mountains? Sound scary, don’t they? They are. Braking can be very difficult with the immense force with which trucks move. So difficult, in fact, that the highway system needs to build extra ramps to deal with the runaway truck phenomenon. Mountain trucking can be stressful and high risk.

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