English

Stefan has been a driver for 18 years: before that, he worked in a repair shop. Stefan’s drives five days in a row for work and then has five days off. A driver colleague happens to live in the same village as him, making them the perfect match as truck mates. This means that they share the lorry and take turns driving it. They hand the truck off to each other at their own homes in the village.

The life of a lorry driver

A driver’s job, of course, is to transport goods from A to B. However, this involves more than just driving around. For example, a driver is constantly engaged in time management. First and foremost, a driver must keep an eye on the driving times if they are going to take compulsory rest breaks on time. Of course, it is also important that the cargo is loaded or unloaded at the agreed time. A driver is actually in a race against the clock the entire day.

Stefan thinks it's great that he is personally responsible for managing his own time: “The fact that you can plan for yourself where and approximately when you take a break gives you a lot of freedom. If you time it right, you can end up at the most beautiful spots. I always prefer to take a break in nature where I can go for a walk instead of in a parking area next to the motorway. The aim, of course, is that you are loading and unloading at the right time.”

The goods that are being transported must be loaded as well. When a lorry is being loaded, a driver ensures that the trailer is being filled properly and sufficiently. Therefore, it is important that the weight is spread across all three axles of the trailer and that the weight of the load does not exceed the permitted maximum. This prevents the trailer from becoming overloaded. By paying attention to the load, a driver is also helping to prevent traffic violations, accidents and fines.

Being a lorry driver is work that involves lots of waiting, such as during loading or unloading or if an unloading site is having technical problems. Every hiccup along the way affects how the day continues on. What not everyone knows is that a lorry driver always keeps fuel in mind, too. It isn’t simply a matter of refuelling on time and putting the pedal to the metal again; consumption is also closely monitored in order to drive as fuel-efficiently and in as environmentally friendly a manner as possible. One example of this is taking your foot off the accelerator in good time instead of braking.

Sufficient variety

The roads travelled by a driver are another thing that keep the work from feeling monotonous. Back roads often require more action than a straight motorway. Every driver has their favourite places to drive. Stefan’s favourites are the back roads and Zeeland. “In Zeeland, you can sleep almost anywhere. The roads are a nice drive, and things always keep moving. Travelling the back roads in Northern France or the Ardennes is also great. Especially with an empty trailer, because then the driving and the roads feel different.”

Stefan adds that he prefers to drive during weekends, as it’s quieter on the roads, making it more pleasant to do his work. According to Stefan, every week is different, because the seasons change too. One moment you will be driving through the autumn rain with a load of potatoes, the next you’re transporting carrots amongst fields of flowers, and then manoeuvring under icicles before seedling season. That is a lot changes, and not just in terms of the surroundings: the route varies as well. Seedling season involves a lot of driving in Friesland and Groningen, places that drivers don't often travel to.

After a working day, Stefan secures his lorry. This day also happened to be the last of his working week. This means that the entire lorry gets cleared out, because his truckmate is taking over the lorry. After a brief round of tidying up and cleaning during his last break, Stefan is more than ready to start his weekend. He drives the lorry to his colleague’s home village, parks it outside his front door and secures it: “The weekend can begin.”

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