We interviewed our CHET Graduate and Musket Professional Driver, Chedo Z, regarding his experience as a commercial driver and an Ice Road Trucker. Read on to learn about some of the greatest challenges he faces as an Ice Road Trucker for two seasons!
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Kozarska Dubica on the Bosnia-Croatia border.
Before entering the trucking industry, were you involved in any other professions?
After I moved to Canada I worked as a computer technician for several years before entering the trucking industry.
What initially attracted you to the transportation industry?
Several things made me interested in the industry. Since I was a child, I have been fascinated by large machinery. When I met a driver and asked him about his profession, I was attracted to the freedom and the earning potential.
How long have you been working in the industry?
I started my CHET training 11 years ago and have been earning a living as a professional driver since 2007. Musket was the first driving job I had out of CHET. I was a company driver (contractor) for nine years, but have been an owner-operator for the past two years.
Describe your role and key responsibilities.
My job is basically to get from point A to point B safely; to be the face of the company; and to ensure that my equipment and I are in compliance with the requirements of the MTO and DOT standards.
What do you love most about your job?
My job has a lot more freedom than a typical 9 to 5 job. It permits me to travel to interesting places and landmarks that most people may not get to see in their lifetime. My favourite so far was the Pentagon!
What made you interested in ice road trucking?
Some of the things that interested me most about ice road trucking were the challenge of navigating extreme driving conditions, the solitude, the opportunity to see new places and ability to visit parts of my home province that few people have been to. While there are similarities, ice road trucking is something completely different to what I had been doing for years and I was excited for the adventure.
What is ice road trucking?
It is exactly what it sounds like – the transportation of goods (in my case, mostly fuel) to places that are cut off from shipping points nine months out of the year, that require frigid temperatures to freeze the lakes and create roads permitting safe transport.
How long did you work as an ice road driver?
I worked as an ice road trucker for two seasons.
What did you enjoy most about ice road trucking?
Two things I really enjoyed about ice road trucking were the camaraderie between drivers and the exhilaration that comes with driving over a road that didn’t exist before and will disappear in a month or two.
What were the greatest challenges you faced?
One of the challenges was learning to operate fuel tankers, which have some of the most exhaustive operating guidelines in the industry. Another challenge was leaving paved roads behind, knowing that I wouldn’t see them again until the spring. Though nothing compared to crossing a frozen body of water for the first time, the first drive across the ice of the season is very unnerving even for seasoned ice-road drivers.
What advice would you give drivers entering the winter season, with its extreme weather conditions?
DISTANCE – Keep your distance! Always make sure you have spare winter clothing, enough water and food to last a day or two, and a towing chain. Recognize that you will have to allocate more time to reach your destination and plan accordingly. Patience can save your life.
How did your CHET driver’s training prepare you for this role?
CHET prepared me for work at Musket which, in turn, provided me with enough experience to be a good student when it came time for ice road training.
Can you give an example of a situation in which your training benefited you on the road?
In one of the classes, our trainer said that a good way to practise backing up trailers would be to charge other drivers $10 to back their trailers in for them while you are waiting your turn to unload. This is exactly what I did at a huge Wal-Mart distribution centre in New England!
What motivated your decision to come drive for Musket?
After graduating from CHET, having become familiar with the Cawthra Yard and the people who worked there at the time, it was a no brainer for me to apply for a position.
What 3 qualities do you think make someone well suited to a career in transportation?
I would say that patience, dedication and the ability to self-govern make a person well suited for a career on the road.
What is the greatest misconception that people have about the trucking industry?
A lot of people seem to think that it’s easy to drive for hours on end when it can be very challenging. Our job is a surprising test of one’s endurance!
What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment?
Being invited back for a second season of ice roads and hitting one million accident-free miles are two accomplishments I am proud of.
What advice would you give to individuals considering entering the industry or to licensed entry-level drivers?
This is not a job – it is a lifestyle. You will not be home every day! If you accept the job as it is, it can be very rewarding.
What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?
I spend all the time I can at home with my wife, who is very understanding and supportive of the requirements of my job.