So You Want an Ice Road Trucker Job?
Many of you who’ve been wanting to take up the career of truck driving are probably familiar with the popular TV series about working on the ice roads of Canada’s far north. The show is called “Ice Road Truckers” and it’s all about the men and women who brave the transporting of goods across the northern regions that only have access roads for part of the year.
This is because the ‘roadways’ are only made of ice that stretch for many miles across nothing but open, frozen lakes! The supplies and materials that these truckers bring to these barely-accessible areas are always essential to the functioning of these areas. Whether it’s oil, food and medical supplies or building materials and essential machinery such as furnaces and oil boilers for industry, the supplies need to get through…and these brave (and well paid) drivers get the job done.
Driving on the ice roads isn’t a job that every truck driver can do though. It takes nerves of steel and more than a little craziness to get out there and travel – usually in a convoy – across miles and miles of frozen nothingness. Most drivers who give this sort of work a try turn around at the first sound of the ice cracking under the tremendous weight of their rigs. Others make it across the frozen ice to their destination but decide the stress for them isn’t worth the money. And the money is great! Most ice road drivers make their entire year’s salary in three months of practically non-stop transporting of materials and supplies. This pace is required because the ice roads are only useable for 3-4 months of the year. After that, they become unstable as the ice thickness begins to deteriorate in spots.
One of the most disheartening sights an ice road trucker can see on his journey across the emptiness of the ice road is the front end of a big rig, half submerged in the ice and frozen in place, a testament to the dangers of trying to get across the ice road too quickly or at the wrong time of the season.
No One Goes it Alone
The ice roads are carefully monitored and controlled by companies assigned to make sure the loads get through. The thickness of the ice is carefully monitored throughout the ice road season and no truck is allowed to go across the ice roads on its own. Convoys of trucks are assigned slots and each driver must maintain a steady speed and space between the trucks ahead of and behind them. This is to ensure that the ice under the extreme weight of the trucks doesn’t begin to flex and create a swell of water that will push ahead of the convoy and crack the ice. Physics and careful planning are required to ensure that each and every truck gets to the other side of the frozen lakes without causing cracks in the ice that become a danger to other truckers and themselves.
For those of you who think you have what it takes to drive across the frozen north with nothing but a few feet of ice under your wheels, give ice road trucking a try. The industry is always looking for careful and skilled drivers who have the guts to get their loads to these remote areas. If you can follow specific rules including setting and maintaining speed limits, keeping your cool under pressure and being able to drive within a convoy, then ice road trucking is the high-paying truck driving career you’ve been looking for.