Monday, November 19, 2007

Keep on trucking

In the space of a year, American truckers may travel 800 000 km. (500 000 miles) in their 18 wheel 'big rigs' - the equivalent of driving round the world more than 20 times.
The speed limit in the USA is only 88 km/h (55 mph) and typical coast-to-coast journey can be 5000 km (3000 miles) each way. So truckers often work in pairs: one sleeps while the other drives. Husband-and-wife teams are not uncommon.
Many trucks have a specially designed living space attached to the back of the driver's cabin. These 'sleepers' can be up to 3 m (10 ft) high and 2.4 m (8 ft) square. Their fittings may include a television, cooking facilities, shower, toilet and bed. The trucks' fuel consumption is enormous too: a large rig uses 30 litres of diesel per 100 km (9 mpg).
Truckers are a breed apart. Spending so much time on the road away from their families creates enormous stress, so they have developed their own trucker community, conversing on CB radio and meeting at the many truck stops that dot American highways. They have even developed their own language. For instance, a policeman is known as a 'bear', the brakes are called 'anchors' and small cars are known as 'roller skates'. When a truck carrying dangerous cargo overtakes a small car, it is referred to as a 'suicide jockey blowing the doors off a roller skate'.

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