John Hayes1680x945

How long have you been driving trucks for?

I started driving the day my eldest daughter was born so I’m driving for 21 years now. I’ve been working for Reynolds Logistics since I was 23, starting in September 1998.

What appealed to you about driving trucks for a living when you were 23?

It was in my blood we’ll say because my father was an oil lorry driver as well and my older brother was working as a driver for Reynolds Logistics at the time so I suppose I had a bit of pull! But I would have gone driving trucks anyway, it was always the plan.

It often seems like truck driving is in the blood for a lot of drivers?

Yes, you kind of see that. You follow your father or your uncle. I think when you know something about the job before you start it makes it easier to get into but you often see where a young guy will go along and do what someone in their family has done before them. My young lad tells me ‘I want to go driving trucks’ but I’d be saying ‘Jack, Jesus Christ stay away from it!’


Nationality: Irish

Marital status: Married with 4 kids

Truck Experience: 21 years

Place of Residence: Cork

Why do a lot of truck drivers today not want their children following in their footsteps?

It’s hard going. Originally when I took on this job, starting time was 6 a.m. and I found that early. Now I find myself getting up at 2:30 a.m. and that would be seen as normal. Any time before that I would call early. The working hours are getting longer and because the road network is so good you’d have no trouble at all clocking up 400 or 500 kilometres in a shift. You find yourself only taking your required legal breaks and leaving it at that. If you’re feeling tired you’re still conscious of the fact that you could be holding up the next guy. The roads are so busy with traffic and people are often in a hurry so given that trucks are a pain to be stuck behind people in cars are going to try and get ahead of us when they can! So I reckon it’s gotten much harder than what it was when I started. It’s a good job, you’ll earn a good living out of it and you won’t see a hungry day but I often say if I was clocking in at 8 a.m. somewhere and clocking out at 4 wouldn’t it be grand? If you encounter delays in this job it adds on to your day.

Do you enjoy the freedom element that comes with your job?

I do. I don’t mind working on my own, if I have the radio on I’m quite happy. If it’s wet or dry it doesn’t bother me so there is definitely great freedom. Reynolds Logistics are good as well as they’d never bother you if you’re a little bit late or early - there’s never a word. Our shift structure changed last year so there’s 4 drivers working the p.m. shift in Cork and they’ve a choice of 8 different trucks. If you’ve had a long day and are going to be late back you can call one of your colleagues and tell them to take a different truck which provides flexibility and takes a bit of the pressure off.

Do you see anything in the industry that you feel has improved majorly over the course of the last 20 years?

The gear is great and there’s very few break downs now. There was one time you drove until it stopped. When I started you’d hear stuff about the tachograph but no one took it seriously. In the last 10 years the tachograph is king. It’s at the stage where if you encounter very bad delays, it has to be sorted so you can get back to the yard inside of your hours because your driving time is up and you can’t do more hours. The gear has come on leaps and bounds and there’s great comfort now. With my first truck when you went over a bump the whole dash lifted! In general they’ve become an easier drive. The anti-collision is useful at night and if you do start to drift in your lane it will let you know and catch your attention if you’re groggy. Automatic mirrors are another thing that’s improved the driving experience. When we used to be loading in Shell at Centre park road we’d have to load from the top in one particular gantry. You had to keep in tight in order for the loading arm to reach all the compartments. The amount of times we’d hit the mirror and it would get knocked out of place was very frustrating. You might have to get in and out 5 times to fix it. It’s brilliant for reversing as well.

What trucks have you driven over the years?

The first truck was a Volvo then it was DAF’s and then Reynolds opted for Mercedes-Benz across the board in 2007. It’s been Mercedes-Benz trucks ever since.

It’s been said that you’re a very good performer for the business because you’re very fuel conscious, what sets you apart from the rest?

I couldn’t tell you! If I sat into your car there the first thing I’d be looking at would be how to get the fuel consumption down. Even if I was only taking it from here to the top of the road! I used to measure the fuel myself where I would put the nozzle into the tank and when it clicked I rounded it off to whatever the litre was and I knew most journeys the amount of fuel I was burning long before FleetBoard came about. Now I’m addicted to checking the screen to see my consumption; I can’t switch off trying to figure out how to get it as low as possible. When FleetBoard came in straight away you could tell if it was braking or changing gear for example that was affecting your score. I get a kick out of improving my score! The savings that can be made from it are huge but a lot of drivers don’t buy into it.

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