Life on the road comes with many challenges. There are schedules to meet while remaining in compliance with Hours of Service regulations, weather-related issues, and unforeseen delays loading and unloading cargo. More recently, the new electronic logging device mandate is causing more downtime than ever before.
If getting the job done isn’t hard enough, maintaining a connection with family while on the road adds to the stress of what’s already a highly stressful job. Today, for a steadily growing number of trucking companies, part of the answer is to provide as many of the comforts of home as possible for drivers.
One of those comforts is in-cab satellite TV.
Des Moines, Iowa-based TMC Transportation has been installing EpicVue satellite TV in tractors since 2015.
EpicVue brings more than 100 channels of DIRECTV programming into the sleeper compartment, meaning the drivers can watch at the same time as loved ones at home and text about the show, or communicate with other drivers on the road about how their favorite sports teams are doing during the big game. Drivers can also record shows and view them later during their down time.
One of the first TMC drivers to try EpicVue was James Ashton. The Florida resident, who works in TMC’s boat division, says he often watches satellite TV while waiting for oversize load permits to go through various state permitting departments.
With governments red tape, “It could take 10 minutes to eight hours,” he said. “Waiting around can be a real time killer. Watching TV during delays keeps me occupied. You could go crazy just sitting there and thinking about the time.”
Because he’s on the road two or three weeks at a time, Ashton also watches his favorite college football team, the Florida Gators. “I haven’t missed a game this year,” he said.
Tyler Ferrell, a TMC driver from Missouri, admits he was hesitant at first to have satellite TV installed in his company truck. Now he’s a firm believer. “I didn’t know how much I’d use it,” he said. Ferrell often leaves the system on while he’s sleeping so it can record shows he’ll watch later, during breaks and while waiting at shippers’ facilities.
When he was delayed recently for 5 1/2 hours, for examples, he watched a South Park marathon. “It definitely takes me away from being anxious to get loaded ,” he says. “You can kill 30 minutes a lot better watching TV than staring at your phone or out the window.”
Ferrell also watches satellite TV with fellow TMC drivers. As a former hockey player and a big fan of the St Louis Blues and the sport in general, he and other drivers often watch hockey games and other sporting events at the same time and text or talk about the what’s happening, boosting camaraderie and the human element.
Until he began driving a truck during the week and over some weekends, Aaron Claeys, a TMC driver from Illinois, and his wife always enjoyed watching their favorite TV shows together. “Before I had EpicVue, Michelle had to record them and wait all week to watch them with me,” he says. “Since I began using the satellite TV system, we can watch them at the same time and talk about them on the phone that night or the next day. With EpicVue we still have that connection and I don’t feel as isolated.”
Mandated 34-hour rest periods are “the most boring weekends ever without EpicVue,” Claeys adds. “Leaving the truck stop is sometimes an option, but that’s not possible in many remote locations. An individual driver doesn’t get to choose what to watch on truck stop TVs but I can watch whatever I want. EpicVue benefits drivers. It’s a win-win and everyone’s happy.”