GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas — Joshua Herman was born and raised in Michigan right outside Detroit, but he knew that wasn’t necessarily where he’d find his life’s work.
“Really, nothing was happening up there,” Herman, who just turned 31, said. “It was a failed economy.”
When he had an opportunity to move to Florida, he jumped at the chance, and there he met a young lady who would eventually become his wife.
“My wife’s parents were team drivers,” he said.
While a couple of years later his in-laws would convince him to try trucking, he spent his first years there as a general manager for the Burger King chain.
“About two years later in 2007 they convinced me to do it and I said I’ll try it out,” he said. “They were doing pretty well. I saw a chance to make good money and have adventure, too. Up to that point, the only states I’d seen were Michigan, Ohio and Florida and now I’ve seen all 48 multiple times.
“Honestly, I got into trucking first just out of really not seeming to have anything. I wanted to try it and eight years have just zipped by. I actually enjoy doing it. As first I did it just for the sake of trying it out, but then it turned into a career. I just rolled with it. I took it on.”
For the past 4 ½ years he’s been at Arnold Transportation, coming there as part of a merger than involved Arnold and LinkAmerica.
It’s the longest he’s driven for one carrier, but feels he’s found a home there.
“Most companies offer the same in trucking. A lot of drivers will tell you it’s just the name on the truck. You just have to find a place you’re comfortable with and for me that’s been here,” he told The Trucker.
What’s the best thing about driving a truck?
“For me, it’s the solitude,” he said. “I like just being able to relax. The open road is appealing. I’ve seen all 48 states. You get to see so many difference places. It’s a nice change.”
One of biggest concerns about the industry is the lack of parking.
“Safe havens are very far and few between,” he said. “You can only work specific times. So when you’re ready to park, you might get into Dallas or Houston at 8 p.m. and there’s no place to park. Everything is filled up. What do you do at that point? You’re out of time and you have nowhere to go. It’s one of the biggest problems in the industry, nowhere to go. No safe havens.”
Just about every trucker you meet has a word or two to say about the Hours of Service rule, and Herman is no exception.
He’s focused on the required 30-minute break.
“I don’t agree with the 30-minute break,” he said. “They say it helps with fatigue, but it doesn’t. Like any job you do, you get into a rhythm and you start going, but then stop you. You get into a zone. You’re watching everything, you are doing what they want, and then you have to stop and go wandering around the truck stop for 30 minutes. Then you’re expected to get back out on the road and get back into that rhythm.”
Herman is a true over-the-road truck driver.
Since he lives in Texas and his wife lives in Florida because she has a daughter who’s a senior in high school, he likes it that way.
“I stay out a minimum of three weeks and up to five weeks, and that’s by choice,” he said. “I’m on a dedicated hazmat run for Baker Hughes (a Texas petroleum company). A lot of our lanes go out to California, but when they are not shipping anything, I go anywhere.”
Herman doesn’t have trouble getting miles.
“Dispatch is one of the things I like so much about Arnold,” he said. “I can tell them I need some miles and they do it for me on the spot rather than my getting thrown into a queue.”
He likes West Coast runs (a lot of open space) to East coast runs (every few hours there is some big city and congestion.)
Herman has been working with electronic logging devices for several years and likes them.
“It keeps the company and driver in place legally. A driver’s quick to rip out a page and throw it away and try again and when a driver puts himself out there, he’s taking the company with him. Everything is going to fall back on the driver. You’re the captain of the ship. You go out if you’ve been driving for 20 hours and you smash into someone; a lot of people are going to see that name on the side of the truck.
“The Department of Transportation tells you that you have to have 10 hours off. They don’t tell you that you have to be sleeping. I can take my 10 hours off and go do what I want and the go and tell dispatch I’m ready and I come back even though haven’t slept in 15 hours and they are trusting me that I’m ready to go for the night.”
Herman believes that when the economy tanked several years ago, people got into trucking and realized it wasn’t for them.
“You really have to want to do this. You have to be committed or you are going to do a horrible job and hurt somebody,” he said. “It’s a very serious job. You’re sitting behind that wheel all day and you have to control everything. Anything could happen at any second. That’s why I put a dash cam in my vehicle. Two forward facing ones, mine by choice. Because if I’m driving down road and whoever pulls in front of me locks it up and I smash into the back of them, they are going to see a truck that’s rear-ended a vehicle. It’s always going to fall on the driver first. You’re a professional and you are supposed to not be in that situation.”
Well, spoken, professional truck driver Joshua Herman.