Trucking Trouble: Driver worries about viability of career

Posted at 10:58 PM, May 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-04 23:15:34-04

(LEX 18) — If you've got a sense of adventure, truck driver Nathan Patrick says there's no better career.

"There is no job on the face of this planet, in my opinion, that suits me any better. It's one of those things that, once it gets in your blood, that's it," Patrick said.

He is based out of Morehead and has been driving for about four years, seeing all corners of the country. With rising inflation and spiking fuel prices, he worries his dream job could hit the brakes.

"It's kind of like getting a shot at the doctor. We're all just sitting there waiting for the hurt," he said.

Patrick says truckers' expenses have gone up along with inflation, but he says their rates have largely stayed the same.

"You've done 2,500 miles this week. Normally that would make me $10,000, $11,000. Now, it's making me $4,000 or $5,000," he said.

If something bad happens, like hitting a deer or getting hit by someone else, Patrick said the expenses and time off the road could bring his career down.

"It'll be that one five-second period of time that's probably going to make my dreams disappear, the future that I planned for my kids disappear," he said.

He said the disparity between rates and expenses is unsustainable.

"My biggest fear is that fuel prices are going to keep on going up and I'm going to wind up losing everything," Patrick said. "My second biggest fear is that we haven't even seen what the inflation really looks like yet."

If truck drivers' rates do go up, that could create even more price increases down the line, further compounding inflation.

"What's bacon going to look like when the cost of hauling it starts getting factored in on the shelf?" he said.

Patrick's found little ways to trim costs. He avoids routes that take him through hot climates where he has to idle his truck to keep a fan going. He also avoids routes that have a lot of elevation gain. He hopes there is a light coming soon that'll keep this dream alive for him and any future truckers down the road.

"Everyone that I see like, 'I'm tired of living paycheck to paycheck', son, go get your CDL and go on the adventure of your lifetime," he said.