Ice Road Truckers first aired in the UK in 2007. It’s named for the “ice roads” - the huge, frozen-over lakes and rivers that hauliers must traverse in Canada and Alaska during the coldest times of the year. Ice Road Truckers has drawn acclaim for its compelling depiction of the work of these drivers, and once you start watching, it’s certainly hard to stop. |
The first season focuses on the work of half a dozen hard-bitten hauliers bringing supplies to a diamond mine, working against the clock to ensure that the mine is able to open on schedule. Since then they’ve supplied off-shore oil rigs, gas deposit search crews, small, isolated towns and more. The truckers are typically working to a tight time limit, as the ice roads they drive are by their nature seasonal, and they must get all of the freight hauled before the warmer weather arrives and makes the route impassable until the following winter.
Ice Road Truckers is a fascinating look at a truly adventurous, dangerous part of the industry. In a world where it’s easy to feel that all is bureaucratically governed and safety-checked, there’s something refreshing (if somewhat alarming) about seeing these drivers plunging over snow and ice, routinely working through conditions that would grind transport to a halt in most countries, and the sense of raw, unsanitised adventure is something that appeals to part of all of us. The hauliers must frequently deal with near-total whiteouts, thin ice, unexpected melts, leaving the road and getting stuck in snowdrifts, and more. However, it’s not this that keeps viewers coming back.
One of the problems with Ice Road Truckers is that it’s somewhat limited in scope: as exciting and terrifying as the driving may be, the hauliers tend to face the same challenges you’ll have seen them face before. However, as you spend more time watching the truckers and getting to know each one, the personal lives of the drivers and their relationships to each other make for interesting viewing. After watching for a few episodes, you start to understand the characters who make these journeys more and more, and you also start to understand the decisions made by those who employ them: when a haulier loses the contract due to unreliable or unsafe driving, you feel for them and yet you understand. Meanwhile, you develop a respect for those who are able to navigate the ice roads year after year.
Ice Road Truckers is recommended to hauliers who enjoy a bit of reality TV, and it makes a nice escape from everyday life. What’s more, drivers based in the UK may find themselves with a newfound appreciation for our mild, if uninteresting, weather conditions after watching Ice Road Truckers’ cast battling through blizzards. There is also a deep satisfaction to watching the truckers successfully deliver a load, as the viewer is keenly aware not only of the pains taken to deliver it, but also of the importance of the delivery to the isolated, hard-to-reach recipients.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry across the UK and Europe. It provides services for matching work for a haulier with jobs and to buy and sell road transport and haulage work in the domestic and international markets. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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