Trucking Around The World: Norway
The trucks we drive in Norway are very good. The most popular trucks are Scania and Volvo. But today the standard of the new trucks are so good it (almost) doesn't matter what you get or buy. My favorite truck is DAF. It's very nice to drive and has lots of space in the cabin.
There are very strict rules in Norway regarding the standard of and maintenance on the trucks. All the major roads have "control places" along the road so there are regular controls there.
One of the concerns of the Biltilsyn (those who have supervision with the road) is the bad condition of the foreign trucks that come into Norway, especially in the wintertime. They come usually with bad summer tires and try to go over the mountain passes. That usually is not very successful. Nowadays the big trucking companies seem to have learned. When there is a load abroad that has to go over a mountain, they try to get a Norwegian company with a Norwegian driver to take that load instead of a driver from Hungary, Poland or wherever.
The Norwegian roads are narrow and bendy over most of the country. They are only "good" around Oslo in the eastern part. We who drive here day in day out get used to it, I think. It's first when we get over the border into Sweden that we can see how bad the roads really are back home.
We haul almost anything. I once said that the only thing a trucker doesn't haul is a newborn baby. The fish market is huge. Every weekend 40-60 semi-trucks from Nor Cargo Thermo take fish loads to someplace abroad. And then I haven't mentioned how many other trucks go from Linjegods and the Nordan Company. Other than that it is really anything. Whatever the customers need.
I have seen that many companies in USA want you to take school and training before they let you take on a truck. That is not common in Norway and Europe. The thing that has changed in Norway is that companies have found out it is much "cheaper" if the driver has experience from trucking before, so they ask for at least two years experience when they look for drivers. But when you have the license you can drive a truck (by the law).
You can drive 4.5 hours then you have to have a 45-minute break. Then you can go 4.5 hours again and then the truck has to stop for at least 11 hours. That's the main rule. But there is another way to do it. The police and Biltilsyn accept it if the truck has stayed for 9 hours. However, you can stay for 8, but then you have to add an extra 4 hours within the next 9-hour stop.
It is maybe best if I tell you how I do it. When I go on long trips I drive 4-4 1/2 hours, take a 1-hour break and then go 4-4 1/2 hours again. Then I stay for 9 hours and start over. It looks much better on the disk if you stay 1 hour at the breaks. If I have to break one of the written rules, I always write it on the backside of the disk. So if I get stopped in a control I know why I broke the rule and can explain it to the police. That for me is the best way to go.
Oslo, which is Norway's main capital city, doesn't have one truck stop place for truckers to park and take the 9-hour rest they have to take by the law. It is much the same in the rest of the country. There's hardly any place for truckers to park lawfully. You can find places to park, but then you'll be in the way for others and will get a fine/ticket on the truck. Even in my hometown, a truck stop is missing.
Weight limits in Norway are maximum 52 tons on truck and trailer/piggyback, and 39 tons on the semi-trailers. Minor adjustments are, of course, to how many axels you have and so on.
I don't like the way the truck driver is looked at by the media, the government and the man in the street. Of course, not everyone looks down on us, but for many we are looked at as a pain in the ---. Not nice to say, but that is the truth.
It looks like we are heading into a period where nobody wants to become a truck driver. The pay is bad, you're seldom home and the responsibility put on a truck driver is big. Not that he can't handle the responsibilities, but he's not appreciated as he should be.
The weather is pretty much the same in Norway as in other countries. The only thing that might be slightly different is that when it's dark in Norway it's really dark. There has been a big dispute over how strong and how many lights we need on the trucks in this country. The problem is that those in charge and the man in the street think we have too much light already, but they are all used to driving in the daytime. So, I guess the "fight" is here to stay.
In the wintertime it is not so much snow anymore because of the global heating. But it gets icy and that's the worst condition to have on the road.
The scenery in Norway is beautiful. Maybe that is one of the reasons why I like to drive so much. There is always something to see, never the same stuff. I really think it is spectacular.
Written By: Birger Rokne