The thing I miss most is the very start of the day. The feeling of pulling myself up the several steps into the cab of a new truck for the very first time. Even this was risky. One driver I know didn’t maintain three points of contact, slipped, and fell backwards off the truck damaging his back!
Once in the cab the first thing I’d do would be push the digital tachograph card into its slot and run through the menu options to start recording my time. It is important that you do this before you do anything else as you are legally required to spend 15 minutes on a rigid and 30 minutes on an artic doing your vehicle checks.
If the weather was cold and the window frosted I would start up the engine to clear the glass but otherwise I’d leave it off as most trucks automatically cut out after a while if you are not moving to reduce pollution.
I would then run through my vehicle checks. All trucks have a vehicle check form on board that you are required to complete, even if you drove the same truck the day before. This ensures that you have checked things like wheels, tyres, side protection, lights, brakes, etc. All trucks have safety checks every six weeks at a garage but it is still your responsibility if something fails and you had not done your pre-drive checks.
Most jobs I had to do my own loading, but even if the truck had been loaded by a forklift I would be responsible for securing the load. This usually involved large ratchet straps and some loads took a bit of skill to ensure that the straps did their job and didn’t slacken while on the move.
I would then pick up my manifest, the list of drops for the day, and put them into my sat nav app on my phone. Some drivers put their next location in one at a time but my iPhone app, CoPilot GPS, allowed me to plan the whole route. This gave me an overall view of how much driving I had to do and where it would make most sense to take my driving breaks.
Last thing, I’d adjust my driving position. The seats tend to have lots of adjustments, and they also differ slightly in design from truck to truck so some days it would take a bit of fiddling to get it right. I’d also, more often than not, be driving a truck that was unfamiliar to me, so adjusting the mirrors, and working out what I could and couldn’t see in them, was really important.
And that was it, checks done, I’d fire up the engine, slip into gear, release the powerful parking brake, and ease away.
There was such a thrill in that first feeling of the power and the bulk. It’s that that I miss the most.
Maybe one day I’ll do it again.