July hottest month on record: How did truckers fare?

By Land Line staff | 8/13/2012

Farmers and ranchers affected by drought dominated headlines during July. But the brutal heat has made it tough for the nation’s truck drivers, too, and August could be another month of oppressive heat in parts of the country.

Joyce Brenny, president and CEO of Brenny Transportation and Brenny Specialized Inc. in St. Cloud, MN, said her drivers had reported getting lightheaded or almost passing out when tarping.

Brenny, who is an OOIDA member, said she’d heard reports of receivers requiring drivers to unload shipments from van trailers by hand during extreme heat. She also said she had one driver who did faint and no one helped him.

“One of our flatbed drivers hurt himself in Alabama after becoming lightheaded from tarping. He asked the shipper for help and they told him he couldn’t be in the building,” she said.
Something Brenny does differently than many carriers. She said her company does not force drivers to turn the engine off if it is too hot or too cold.

Owner-operator Lee Strebel is leased to M&M American out of Mason, OH. He is an OOIDA Life Member from Peachtree City, GA, and accustomed to the heat, but this year is worse than any he can recall.

“We haul a lot of office furniture and store fixtures and we pad wrap everything,” he said, “Getting up in the back of the trailer and doing that in the heat is brutal. It takes me twice as long to do my job. I work for 25 minutes or so and have to get out of there. I get back in the truck where my APU is running, cool down and drink a lot of water.”

Strebel said another problem has been that the temperatures don’t even cool down at night.

“A couple of weeks ago, I had to just quit and get up at 4 a.m. to finish.”

In a Facebook comment posted Friday on the Land Line page, Mia Sion MacFarlane said her husband was a driver in the oil field and the heat has been really rough on him.

“We live in Oklahoma, and the temps have been as high as 115 most days for the past couple weeks. Not only does he have to unload his truck in this heat; he has to wear FREs, which are fire retardant long sleeve coveralls along with a hard hat. Most of his deliveries have been in the middle of the night but still the temps are in the triple digits then.”

Texas temps have put drivers to the test, too. OOIDA Life Member Danny Schnautz is operations manager at Clark Freight Lines in Houston, TX. He reports that his drivers find it tough, but they are being smart about it.

“Lots of truckers can be fair weather truckers and hold the helm when the sea is calm,” said Schnautz, “but it takes real dedication to move the load in the face of extreme adversity.”

Richard Heim, meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told Land Line this week that July 2012 was the “all-time warmest month on record since 1895,” when forecasters started keeping records.

Heim said the average temperate was 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit, which is two-tenths of a degree higher than it was in July 1936, the previous record-holder.

Staff Writer Clarissa Kell-Holland and Editor-in-Chief Sandi Soendker contributed to this article.