Life & Truck Navigation

A while back as I was browsing through my many, many notes & directions looking for an old route into a cold storage that I had been to before, I took a picture. It wasn’t anything fancy, just a picture of my hand written driving directions going into an onion shed in Washington State.

I laughed at myself thinking that this was my GPS—the only one I truly believe in, even though I know GPS’s are becoming more and more popular with truck drivers every day.

I myself refuse to buy one and have snubbed out Hubs many offers of purchasing a GPS for me as a gift with my subtle not so nice hints that it would be well used as a wheel chock rather than take up space in Rosie.

I don’t want one for a number of reasons that I will list below. I will not use one and in all honesty, I do not believe in them. Not in a truck for sure, and a four-wheeled vehicle is a close second.

Of course that’s just my opinion, and you know what they say about them…

And who knows, maybe someday I will fall and severely hit my head, and I will then change my mind. However, as I write this, I know of too many drivers who don’t even own a trucker’s atlas, and because of their relying on said GPS devices, have been led the wrong way more than once. Now, being led the wrong way in a four wheeler is one thing, but in a 13’6 high, 60 to 80 foot long semi truck, this can lead to many problems like running into a low clearance, being led into parts of town where trucks are not supposed to be or being led many miles out of route. This happens all because they trusted this little computer that is only suppose to be a ‘Tool’ not a guarantee. I feel there is no excuse for hitting low bridges or getting fined because you weren’t smarter than a GPS.

That being said, I have been blogging at One Girl Trucking for over three years as of August 9th, and I have been blogging in total for over six years with a couple of other blogs that I have gotten rid of as I have woven my love of our farm, trucking, my animals, photography and cooking into one blog here. I absolutely LOVE my computer and wouldn’t leave home without it.

I love technology, and I do believe it has a place, but that place is not next to me while I’m driving.

I learned something many years ago, and it is very simple yet it relates to not only life but also truck driving and the use of a GPS.

Trust your instincts and believe in yourself before anything else.

If you cannot do both of those things while driving down the road in a car or semi truck, you don’t belong out here. In my eyes, you are a hazard.

With that I have a story, or really a part of my life to share with you.

Many, many moons ago my dad taught me how to drive. Because of this I am a damn good driver (I don’t mean to toot horn, but if there is anything in my life that I’m sure of, it would be that I can wheel a truck with the best of them). I will be honest in that I disliked my dad many times over because he would push and push for me to be as excellent as I possibly could. He didn’t believe in my just being an okay driver. He made me back-up our old ford for miles and miles down roads; he also had the theory that if I was going to drive it-whatever it may be, that I was going to be able to work on it too. So, if I wanted to drive I also had to be there for oil changes, brake jobs and anything in between. And I was.

I’m pretty sure, by the time I was 14 I knew where all the zerks were located on all of our vehicles. By the time I was 15 I was tooling down our country road on my Dads ’84 softtail- ape hangers and all, by myself.

Now days, I owe my knowledge of trucks and anything mechanical to my dad, and I love him for it. And, although I think it backfired on him since he wanted his daughter to be a state trooper, not trucker, it has made me who I am today. That is not to say that my dad is not proud of me and what I’ve done in my life, because he is very proud. I just think he wanted me to be a legal, gun-toting girl who gave tickets. Not a daughter who received them for going ’round scales, speeding or telling state troopers what she really thinks…

Not too long after I got out of high school, I made the decision to save my parents money and not go to college to be a highway patrol. Instead, I ran team with an my then boyfriend. It was an absolute blast for a while, because I so wanted to be with him, and not only that, I wanted to drive truck and see the country. Let me tell you that was the worst thing I could have ever done for myself. Being young and probably impressionable, I put all of my trust into him, and worse yet when I thought I couldn’t do something I gave up way too quickly and let him do it for me— be it driving in downtown LA traffic at rush hour, counting produce, or crossing a mountain pass. Although he taught me tons about trucking, I always, ALWAYS thought he knew better, could do it better, or was smarter than I was. Sadly during that part of my life, I ignored what I knew, along with all of my instincts and that made me a bad driver and most importantly an unhappy person.

To me, this is what a GPS does to a driver. It gives them a false sense of security, because they put all of their trust into that little computer rather than pulling out a trucker’s atlas and looking over a map and/or calling and asking for help. The common sense they were born with is long gone out the window.

Sure I can see that a GPS will give you directions, and an ETA, but it is still just a computer that has NO clue you are driving around 80,000 pounds even if it is truck friendly! I may be different here, but I read maps, I know my routes, and without anything but my brain, I can tell Hubs or anyone else who asks what time I’m going to show up to deliver in Minnesota, when I’m sitting in California without a GPS, a computer or any trip planning of any kind. And I will be there on time, if not early. I know my routes. I know my truck and most importantly I know my limitations.

And that’s not to say that I have not made a ton of mistakes over the years, because I have. Thankfully none of those mistakes have hurt anyone or wrecked mine or my employers equipment. I think the worst thing I think I ever did was have to call the Chicago police to get me off of a one way street that dead ended up against I90. I made the wrong turn off of a five way intersection that led me to a 12′ 6 bridge. It was either take the one way, dead end road or wreck my truck. Of course it was embaressing as hell, but I made a friend in the police officer that helped me out, I got a very cool escort to I90 (flashing lights and all), and I learned a HUGE lesson.

Pay Attention!!!

There were no cell phones back then, only pay phones and it was no use to call my dispatcher or my Mother (whom I really wanted at that time!) so I got my myself out of my truck and figured the situation out on my own and that is what most drivers don’t know how to do anymore and it’s the one thing I absolutly dispise about the trucking industry today.

There is way too much mommy coddling and hand holding out here. I think it has hurt the trucking industry immensly, the new drivers especially, and let in a bunch of steering wheel holders who without the help of a dispatcher couldn’t drive a semi through a wet paper bag.

Sadly, this is happening with the automobile industry too.

My opinion is that if you cannot drive it without the help of GPS, assisted backing, or having your headlights turn on when it gets dark out or it raining!, then you should be riding the bus.

The trucking industry and automobile industry alike are making people stupid and reliant rather than self reliant, smarter and safer, even though they tell you differently. The worst part is most people are falling for it.

So, if you have to have a GPS, or any other new fangled device to help you drive, please, use it as a tool only. Use it as something that is in the background of your life, not the foreground while you are driving. Learn to rely on YOU, the most important thing in your drivers seat, because not only does your life rely on it, so does the rest of the motorists on the highway.

Bethany About Bethany

I am a prisoner of the highway, farmer and lover of Mother Nature, the moon and stars, my long and low, flat-top Peterbilt, chickens, cats, dogs, horses, cooking, photography, tattoos, tea pots and vintage barnifacts…among other things. I’m also a very, happily married, third-generation truck driver. My career choice is both demanding and rewarding, just like most things in life that are truly good.