John Pettitt holding the “Ryder Cup” 1985


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On reflection, I must admit that I had a terrific time driving around America in a “Big Rig”. It was certainly different from driving in Europe. I met two other English drivers working for the same company and we have become firm friends through the trials and tribulations of trying to gain entrance to the USA on a permanent basis. I will reflect on that point later on.

It is no wonder that there is a shortage of drivers in the States. Companies only pay by the mile, therefore all loading and unloading is carried out for nothing. Not that you have to load/unload yourself, the companies all pay for “lumpers” who will load/unload your truck for about $80. But of course, the waiting time is down to you. Whilst you are sitting, you are not covering miles. You need at least 3000 miles a week in order to earn a decent living. This again is outside your control, because your fleet manager controls the allocation of work, and if he is not working for you, then you just do not get the miles necessary.

Having said that, I still enjoyed driving there enough to want to go back and do it again. Why? Because, it is about the last place in the civilised world where you can drive a truck that has not been strangled and where your life is not controlled by a tachograph. Safety - I hear you shout. That is a load of nonsense, every summer I have to contend with the annual migration to the South of France and beyond by holidaymakers towing their “wobble boxes” who are legally allowed to drive all day and all night. Even after having worked all day somewhere.

The slogan one can see all over America is “Without Trucks America Stops”. The same applies in Europe, but the majority of people consider them nothing but a nuisance. If the ordinary citizen had to put up with the petty controls and persecution the French Gendarmes and Douanes carry out then I am sure we would be getting out of Europe.

I suggest that if Safety and the environment are the most important things on the agenda, then perhaps we should have tachographs fitted in our cars and at the same time fit “limiters” set for the National speed limit. The attraction of big gas guzzling cars that cost a fortune and help prop up the German economy would diminish if nothing could go faster than 70 mph.

Sorry about that, just my feelings with regard to the decimation of an industry here in the UK.

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