Long hours and long drives make for some interesting sights, and we're not talking about the scenery. Being a truck driver takes guts both on and off the road. These truck drivers have seen some things, and they're here to share.
Content has been edited for clarity.
“My mom is a trucker, this is her story.
She was driving through Arizona when she saw what she thought was leaves blowing across the road in the distance. This puzzled her since there’s mostly pine trees in northern Arizona. When she finally got to the ‘leaves,’ she realized that they were migrating tarantulas, thousands of them. There were so many of them that her truck was sliding on their guts, so she had to slow down. She stopped at the first truck stop and told her co-driver to fuel up (he was sleeping at the time) because she wasn’t going to step foot outside after what she just saw. Her co-driver was mad because it was technically his time off, and he thought she was crazy until he saw the tarantula guts and legs caked in the inside wheel well of the truck.
She also outran a tornado in the Midwest. She was about to pull over and take cover until she saw another big rig that was parked on the side of the road get tossed a couple hundred yards like a toy. She called me and told me that she thought she was going to die and wanted her last words to be ‘I love you’ to me. She pulled off the freeway and got to a Wal-Mart, where she ran into the basement where all the staff and customers were taking shelter. After the tornado passed, they stepped out of the basement and into daylight, since the Wal Mart had been destroyed.
She has many many stories like this. Trucking is 90% boredom, 10% insane stuff like this.”
Tires On Fire!
“I was driving north through the mountains of Colorado towards Pueblo and it was my first time dealing with anything like the Rocky Mountains, so I was taking it nice and slow with my hazards on and in the right lane. This was in the spring and there wasn’t much snow on the ground aside from a light dusting.
I remember passing another truck pulled to the shoulder on my way up, nothing out of the ordinary. However, as I was heading down the mountain (which can be scary in an 18-wheeler, trust me), I saw the same truck I passed earlier FLY by me in the left-hand lane. Now, being passed on the left going DOWNHILL in the ROCKY MOUNTAINS by another TRACTOR TRAILER is crazy enough, but what really makes this story is this guy’s trailer brakes were on fire. He was pulling a load (could tell because the trailer was sealed), and if you know anything about trucks, you know there’s only so much braking you’re supposed to do before they overheat and, worst-case, catch fire.
This guy’s truck looked like a comet as he sped down the mountain at what I thought was a deadly pace.
I grabbed the mic to the radio and called out to him: ‘Hey Driver! Your brakes are on fire! I mean literally on fire!’
This rough and weathered sounding voice came back over the speaker of my radio and said, cool as a cucumber: ‘I know.’
And he disappeared around a curve.
I never saw any wrecked truck, emergency crews, or even mention of an accident over the radio.
I did see a discarded fire extinguisher on the ground at the base of the mountain though.
Just one of many awesome stories.”
The Barking Was Getting Louder And Louder…
“Many years ago, I was on what is called a ‘meet and turn.’ This is where a driver that is based out of one city will drive a load halfway to its destination, while a driver based out of that destination will drive halfway with a load that is destined for my city.
We met in a parking lot, switched trailers, and drove back home. I had been on this run for a few months and found that I always got to the meet point about an hour before the other driver. It was a dark and empty dirt lot at about 3 am, so I would stretch out across the seat and take a short nap.
One night, about 10 minutes into my nap, I was awoken by a barking dog. I tried to ignore it, but it carried on for several minutes and got louder as the dog got closer. Soon, it became apparent that the dog was right outside my truck barking at me. OK, either this dog was Lassie and was trying to alert me to something, or else he was just a pain in the rear and I would need to throw something at him to scare him off. It is important to note that the barking had been going on for a good 10 minutes at this point.
So, I sat up and looked out my window. Standing there, mere inches on the other side of the glass was a man of about 35. He was a large fellow and he was barking at me. His eyes were crazy and he was frothing at the mouth a little — the scene really held my full attention for a moment. The sheer creepiness of this struck me. Gently, and making an absolute minimum of sudden movements, I reached down, started my truck, and slowly pulled away. He chased me, much like you might expect an angry dog to do, barking all the while.
Needless to say, it had an impact on my power naps from then on.”
Good Days And Bad Days
“I was a long-haul trucker for a few years and spending every day out on the road is pretty crazy. You see a lot through the windshield of a truck.
A lot of people naturally assume that truckers are male and women will flash you a lot. I also discovered that a lot of men will pleasure themselves as they commute to work. Once they see that you are a female, they like to do it for you.
The images that stick with me the most are the dead people you see. There was a bad accident one night in Chicago and it was late, rainy, on the interstate by Wrigley Field and I could see the flashing lights in the opposing lane. I don’t usually rubberneck because I just don’t want to see other people’s misfortune but this time I did. There was a dead family lying broken on the road and the first responders were pretty much just standing around waiting for the coroner to arrive. I can still see the flashing lights in the rain and the little dead baby lying 30 feet away from its dead parents. I wish I had never looked.
Another time, again near Chicago, probably around Gary, I saw a possible wasted driver in a fancy car driving erratically on the interstate. I called the police and gave them the mile marker we were at so that they could try to stop it. I lost sight of the car as it sped off but a few miles down the road it was flipped over on the other side of the freeway engulfed in flames. I don’t think the driver made it out, there was no one standing beside it.
One night, in Northern Ontario, I was climbing a hill on a single lane blacktop and just as I crested the hill there was a minivan coming straight at me in my lane and a long line of cars that they were passing in the other. I had nowhere to go and was not allowed to leave my lane of traffic even if it meant killing people, so I hit the brakes, even managing to lean forward and grab the trailer spike to use all the brakes knowing two things: I was about to kill someone in this minivan and that I was about to be covered in the thousands of gallons of horse urine that I was hauling in the trailer. Luckily, the stupid minivan was able to get back into the other lane when other vehicles started hitting their brakes to avoid the accident that was about to happen.
Things like that I remember. Nearly dying in accidents, nearly killing people because they cut you off, not realizing how long it takes for a truck to stop. There are good days driving a truck, but the bad ones were the reason I quit.”
No Place For A 9-Year-Old
“This happened a little over ten years ago when I was either 9 or 10 years old. When I was younger, my dad would take either my sister or me in his 18-wheeler across the eastern US (mostly so he didn’t have to unload the truck). Anyway, I went with him one summer and we stopped at a Burger King to eat.
I forget where it was, but it was either in Kentucky, Virginia, or West Virginia. I nearly got hit in the parking lot by some prick, which was bad enough, but the really creepy stuff went down once we were inside.
I ordered a kid’s meal with a Dr. Pepper. The cashier was this weird, redneck looking dude. I remember taking a sip of my drink a little after sitting down, and it tasting weird, but I had a mouthful of food at the time, so I didn’t pay much attention to it. Now, ordinarily, I would CHUG anything caffeinated and/or carbonated, but for some reason, something told me not to this time. After I finished eating, I took another sip – it was DEFINITELY not Dr. Pepper. I told my dad that it didn’t taste like it; he tasted it, replied ‘it’s not,’ then went and yelled at the creepy-looking redneck cashier. The manager fired him on the spot. I later learned in my teenage years that the flavor was that of a very cheap brewski.
So, some creepy redneck, likely a kid diddler, tried to get a 9-year-old boy wasted in a Burger King.”
He Predicted It All
“A little back info: Mexicans (yes, proper usage of the word, nonracial. People who live in and are citizens of Mexico) can get a temporary visa to come to the US and grab junk cars and parts from the junkyards.
I never got a straight story as to why but used parts sell for a premium in Mexico. So you see, especially near the southern border, a chain of two or three cars loaded with parts being pulled by the first in the line – a repaired and temp tagged junker itself.
One of these, a two-car train that was an SUV pulling a pickup, was crammed full of parts. This was in northern New Mexico and a snowstorm had come through. The roads were icy and I was cruising about 40mph, chained and heavy.
It passed me at about 55 and my first thought was: ‘This guy ain’t gonna make it another 10 miles at that speed.’
He immediately started a death wobble, so I was safe braking as much as I could to give distance – the last thing he needed to was be jackknifed and then be run over by a truck. The last thing I needed was to run him over.
He turned sideways and flipped over instead. Oh boy. Parts were everywhere. He rolled several times and wound up on the side of the road, facing the opposite way.
I stopped a little before him, so I hopped out, tossed a flare on the road for the moment, and checked on the driver.
He was unhurt, finally someone that wore their seatbelt for an accident they had in front of me. I verified no other passengers, helped him find his phone and coat, and had him sit tight with the door closed so he did not freeze. I radioed highway patrol and gave them the location, dropped a couple more flares, and waited for the calvary to arrive.
It was surreal how I predicted his wreck, then watched it happen.”
He Was Frozen In Time
“This happened to me when I was 15. My dad ran a wrecker service for over-the-road truckers. Late one night, we got a call that a truck had run off the road and struck a tree 20 miles south of town. So my dad and I fired up the wrecker and headed south.
When we came on the scene, the truck and trailer had run off the road to the right and smacked a tree head-on. It was one of those 100-year-old oak trees. This was back in the day when there was cab over semi trucks or the ones without noses or the engine is under the cab. The truck was still running at an idle, the door was closed, but no driver was seen from the driver’s window. The front windshield was busted and there was a large hole in the middle. The trailer was loaded with flat quarter-inch sheet steel.
Of course, it was pitch dark and we couldn’t see things that well when we first got there. Our impression was the driver smacked a tree, maybe hit his head on the windshield, and was already getting treatment somewhere. My dad set up the wrecker to hook onto the trailer, and he wanted me to open the cab in order to release the brakes. When I opened the door, I was greeted with a lower half of a body. When the driver hit the tree, a single sheet of steel broke free and cut through the cab cutting the driver in half. The upper half of his body went through the windshield. I found the driver’s upper half in a cornfield about 40 feet from the truck and he was still grabbing the upper part of the steering wheel. It looked like he was frozen in time, still driving the truck.
Needless to say, he went into a body bag with his lower half and we worked through the night getting the truck and trailer back to town.
This is one of many experiences I had growing up in a wrecker service family.”
One Dumb Fool
“My uncle was a long-haul trucker back in the 90s (mainly did international runs from Canada down into the US and back to Canada) with a pretty nice new Kenworth that had one of those maximum size sleepers on it. It had a built-in toilet and the works. He decided that the small tank that came with the toilet was a pain in the rear to have to empty so frequently, so he converted half of his passenger side diesel tank into a septic tank.
A few weeks after converting his tank, he happened to pull in at a truck stop somewhere in the States and parked for the night after driving longer then he should have. When he woke up at 5 am, with the dawn just starting to get bright, he climbed out to see beside his truck something that makes him laugh every time he tells the story.
On the ground on the right side of his truck was a five-gallon jerry can, a siphon hose with one end in his tank and the other laying on the ground; puddle of puke and some puke footprints; another few feet away, puddle of puke; another few feet away from another puddle of puke.
Some dumb fool tried to siphon his septic tank in the middle of the night.”
Misfortunate Or Totally Lucky?
“Once back in 1994, I delivered a load down near Riverside, California, and dispatch told me to lay over in a hotel for the night at company expense (a rare treat).
Halfway through dinner and a movie on the TV mid-evening, they called and told me to deadhead (run the empty trailer) to Salt Lake City for a morning pickup. Sucked, but okay.
I got to St. George, Utah, and pulled into a truck stop to fuel up. I put the hose in the tank and jacked it so that it would run fuel into the tank without my help. I stood there waiting for the first tank to fill when all of a sudden the hose jumped out of the tank and sprayed diesel all over me.
I finished fueling, got my shower ticket and cleaned up, washed my clothes, and went on to Salt Lake.
Got there and found out that I’d missed the Northridge earthquake by a couple of hours. I don’t know if that’s what made the hose jump out of the fuel tank in St. George but I figure it was as that was the only time it ever happened to me.”
How Could They Have Known
“Coming back from Kununurra (very northern town in Western Australia) to Perth one night. Hadn’t seen anyone else on the road for hours, but now and then, on a long straight, I could see a set of tail lights in the distance. All of a sudden, there are the tail lights, attached to a trailer that’s stopped dead in the middle of the road. I slammed on the brakes and swerved around it, and that’s when I realized that the truck, towing 3 trailers had run off the road into the only large tree for miles. If not for how this ended, I’d laugh at the irony.
I pulled forwards, off the road, and jumped out. My co-driver (who’d been asleep, but got thrown out of the bunk when I slammed on the brakes) was already calling emergency services. As I got to the back of my 3rd trailer, wisps of smoke started from under the cab of the Volvo wrapped around the tree. I raced back, grabbed a fire extinguisher and was running towards the wreck when I heard a groan from the ditch, about 10 meters in front of the wreck. The driver had been thrown clean through the windscreen, and while he was an absolute mess, at least he was alive. The Volvo was, by now, in flames. But that just gave me some light to inspect old mate for injuries.
And then I heard the sound that, even now, tears me to the core. A thin, high-pitched squeal, gradually progressing into the most soul piercing scream I’ve ever heard. His co-driver had also been asleep in the bunk. And with the truck wrapped around the tree, he was stuck. And I hadn’t thought to fight the fire. And now some poor guy was burning to death, trapped in a steel coffin, while I just collapsed. Impotent and broken.
I still drive trucks now. It’s my life. It’s cost me several relationships and a marriage, but I don’t know anything else that I can do. I love the life, I love the freedom, and I always know that I can lose everything in the blink of an eye. But I never again, and never will, drive as a two-up team. I could never live with killing a workmate because I messed up.”
Dozens Of Red Eyes
“A friend who is a truck driver told me this one. He was driving through the edge of some bushland on his way back to Perth, Western Australia when he hit a kangaroo. He stopped the truck, grabbed his knife (in case he needed to dispatch it), his flashlight, and got out. He went over to the kangaroo. It needed to be dispatched, as it was alive and in immense pain, but he got this weird feeling that he was being watched. He flashed his light around and saw dozens of pairs of red eyes watching him. The whole mob of kangaroos was just standing there watching him kill one of their mates (kangaroos have red eye shine). He quickly dispatched the kangaroo, bolted back to his truck, and took off. He said it was the creepiest thing he had ever seen on the road.”
A Bad Reputation
“I am not a trucker, but this is a story about two of them…
My mom and I were headed a few states away to visit my brother. About an hour into our trip, we got a flat tire and had to pull over. I was the driver and as I didn’t want to destroy her rim, I made it to the exit ramp.
Trucker #1 stopped and helped us change the tire out for the spare. I tried to do it myself, but I had parked on an incline and was struggling. He was very nice, tried to refuse the $20 my mom gave him for the trouble, and suggested we try to buy a patch at the Walmart down the road.
We were both in need for a cup of coffee at this point, so we stopped at a Huddle House before we went to Walmart for the patch. We asked the lady behind the counter if she could give us directions to the Walmart, and in the process told her about the flat. She informed us that her brother-in-law was over in one of the booths and he would be happy to do the patch for us. Brother-in-law was trucker #2.
We finished up and agreed to follow the guy and his 18-wheeler over to the store. When we got there, I decided to stay with the car and my mom’s dog. My mom headed into the store with trucker #2.
When they got back, my mom had a strange look on her face. I looked at her in curiosity, and she responded with the look of ‘I’ll tell you later.’ As he was fixing the tire, he started questioning my mom about my age and relationship status. It was getting creepy because he was asking her like I wasn’t even there.
The big moment came when he went to get his toolbox out of his rig… When he opened the door, an object rolled out and hit the pavement. My mother, being the polite lady she is, started to retrieve it. I knew what it was… it was a giant, purple adult toy of the double-headed variety. As soon as the recognition took place, I threw my arm across my mom to stop her and furiously shook my head to get her to stop.
Eventually, he retrieved it himself. He got the tire back on the car and attempted to solicit my mom for information about me again. He refused to take cash from her, but requested my number instead. I answered before she could respond with a fake number.
As we drove away, I had to explain to my mom that she almost grabbed a trucker’s purple dong.”
A Night He’ll Never Forget
“Oh, I’ve got a ton of stories (almost going off a cliff, meeting Vinnie Paul from Pantera, countless encounters with dancers), but here’s probably the weirdest.
It was around midnight and I was traveling north on route 491 through New Mexico. You should know that until 2003, this road had actually been Route 666. I believe they changed it because people thought that it was cursed and the signs kept getting stolen. This highway goes through the Ute Indian reservation. I only mention this because ‘midnight, route 666, and an Indian reservation’ sets the tone.
I was headed up the road and it was a clear night, stars everywhere, no towns or other vehicles for miles. Suddenly, in the western part of the sky, I saw this incredibly bright ball of orange light which very rapidly grew to a size VASTLY larger than the sun. The texture of it even looked like those close up pictures of the sun. Suddenly, this giant ‘sun’ disappeared and the entire sky, horizon to horizon, flashed bright yellow and you could see everything in the desert for miles as if it were daytime. Then, all the weirdness ended and it was the regular night sky again. This entire event happened in a matter of a couple seconds.
Needless to say, the whole thing left me a bit shaken. I asked a few other people at a truck stop the next morning if they had seen anything, but just got crazy looks. Later on, though, I was listening to the radio and heard about a meteorite that had burned up in the atmosphere the previous night and had been seen by people from as far south as I was, all the way up to Idaho.
Now, what I saw was much weirder than a meteorite, so all I can figure is I saw some sort of ‘reflection’ of the rock burning up that had bounced off of some layer of the atmosphere and caused this strange display. Not sure, but it makes the most sense to me. Or, ya know…aliens.”
You Could See The Spot
“My dad is a truck driver who regularly makes trips to a nearby major city. This city is known as one of the most dangerous cities in the country so my dad takes special precautions. One of them being he always leaves several car lengths in front of him at a red light so he can get out if needed.
One day around 5am he was sitting at a red light and someone hit him so hard that his truck moved forward several feet and it knocked the hat off of his head. He looked in the rearview mirror and saw someone run up to the back of his trailer and faint. He decided he should stay put and wait for the police to show up.
Turns out a Cadillac had hit him from behind going 110 mph. Both men in the front seat were completely decapitated. You could see the spot on the trailer where their heads hit. The driver was still messed up and high from the night before.
My dad was put on leave for several weeks and endlessly questioned. For some reason the police thought it was suspicious that he had left space between him and the next car. He felt really guilty about it for a long time but we told him had he not been there they would have hit the cars in front of him and more people likely would have died. I was a kid when this happened and he never let me ride along with him again.”