Best Driving Tips from a Long-Haul Truck Driver

One of my faithful readers over the years has been Tom Duregger—which might be surprising if you think mainly women read my column (not true at all). Tom was an over-the-road trucker (which means you drive long trips) for 34 years. Eventually he owned his own small fleet of trucks and then launched a business called Duregger Logistics (Google it or go to Tom is basically a freight broker who figures out how to get goods to a client’s desired location the cheapest and safest way possible.

I had wasted much energy blaming and criticizing other motorists over the decades. It finally comes down to a conscious decision to cut the blame and anger out of one’s own responses to what we see happening on the road.

His website says, “Good stewardship with the shipper’s transportation dollar is realized and appreciated by the clientele.” They strive for positive relationships between the shipper, the broker (the company arranging things), and the carrier. Who knew there were brokers for such things?

Not me.

Tom also subscribes to the stress tips from Third Way Café and at one point last year responded to a tip advocating letting the actions of other drivers roll off your back. (Not literally, but to let go of stressful feelings when aggressive or stupid drivers jerk your driving chain.)

So I was fascinated to receive Tom’s response to that tip as a long-term, long-haul driver who still works in the freight business. He wrote this as advice for others which I promised to use in the column sometime (and got his permission to do so)

I have found that most driving stress is caused by our own expectations about how everyone else “should be driving.” When I reduced my expectations of the “other guys” to ZERO, I became a more alert defensive driver, much calmer, leaving emotion out of the equation.

ZERO means ZERO. For example, do not expect anyone to stop for a stop sign or drive on the correct side of the road. When you see a problem, take evasive action. When you leave anger, name calling, and blame out of it, you can focus your energies into doing what needs to be done to get to where you are going in one piece! Do not become angry, because your anger will not improve anyone else’s driving. Trust me on this.

You will know you have mastered this technique when you can take automotive evasive action without raising your heart rate—during or after—a dangerous episode. Adopting this attitude will also have a positive effect on avoiding collisions with deer. Instead of panicking (which is an emotional response), one’s evasive maneuver mode will kick in. It is a worthy goal to shoot for and may take some time to reach, but you can do this if you are willing to change your perspective.

He wrote that so well I thought it was best just coming straight from the trucking expert’s mouth. In other words, plan for everyone else on the road to drive horribly and you’ll be ready for anything.

But, he cautions, as you implement this plan, make sure your own driving is squeaky clean and above reproach, such as never tailgating, allow proper following distances, always be on the alert (which means no texting, no fiddling with radio, no checking your teeth or make up).

I especially liked the little testimony added after his advice: “This lesson took me millions of miles of heavy-duty truck driving to finally learn! I had wasted much energy blaming and criticizing other motorists over the decades. It finally comes down to a conscious decision to cut the blame and anger out of one’s own responses to what we see happening on the road. It would be nice if folks could learn this by just accepting the concept as true, period. And implement the remedy right away!”

Tom is open about his Christian faith and notes that you can apply this principle to many other areas of life. “As I have explained to my kids, there is just not enough time in life to learn everything personally by trial and error!”

Learning from Tom’s millions of miles can be a lifesaver over the busy holiday weekend coming up soon, and as millions take to the roads to take their young adults back to college or head to fall sports activities.

Most of us can benefit from brushing up our driving skills, our road courtesy, and just accepting the fact that there are going to be drivers making bad decisions and mistakes out there—including truckers.

Thanks for writing my column for me today, Tom, and maybe saving someone from tragedy.

Is this helpful for you? Do you recognize yourself here? Or can an you think of someone you wish would read it and put it into practice? Comment on Another Way Newspaper Column Facebook page, or send to

Posted 8/14/2014 7:00:00 AM

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