The Top 5 Oddball Lorry News Stories of 2008

Ask the vast majority of lorry drivers and owner operators if the year has been kind to them, and they’ll most likely laugh. Spiralling fuel costs, extra legislation and low emission zones have made the life of the road haulage driver even more stressful than before. So when looking through the haulage news stories of the last 12 months, it would be very easy to focus on the negatives outlined above, but instead I have chosen to look at those news articles which make you do a double take – ones which are a little off the wall.

So without further ado, here are 5 of my favourite unusual lorry news stories of 2008:

Lorry Driver Wasn’t Using Mobile for Calls While Driving

The recent laws preventing motorists and haulage workers from using their mobile phone while driving have caught many an inattentive driver, but one German lorry driver managed to escape punishment with an unlikely explanation. When Walter Klein was pulled over by police with his mobile phone to his ear, he claimed he was not making a call, but using it as an ear warmer to ease his ear ache. Whether you believe this unlikely explanation or not, the court did – when he produced his telephone bill which showed he had not been making a call when he was pulled over!

Sceptics reckon that he might have been either calling his voice mail (which leaves no trace on some phone bills) or in the process of dialling, but Klein’s explanation was accepted: “I had an earache and it was being made worse because the cab had not heated up yet – it takes a while on a big rig. So I grabbed the phone that had been on charge and put it to my ear, and that was when I was stopped by police.”

Truckers’ Revenge on Clarkson

Jeremy Clarkson has managed to anger a few people in his many years on the television, but lorry drivers were left angry after a feature on Top Gear where he jokingly implied that all road haulage drivers murdered prostitutes and had an easy job. The controversial presenter was taking part in a lorry driving task when he said: “It’s a hard job: change gear, change gear, check mirror, murder a prostitute, change gear, change gear, murder. That’s a lot of effort in a day.”

But perhaps truckers had the last laugh when T-Enterprise developed a computer game entitled Run Clarkson Run, where players control a cartoon version of the Top Gear presenter as he is chased by angry lorry drivers and owner operators. To win points, the player must help Clarkson dodge the trucks and grab piles of BBC licence payer’s money. The Managing Director of T Enterprise commented that “the whole family can spend hours playing the game, running over and killing Jeremy Clarkson just for fun.”

For God’s Sake, Use a Map!

Many of us have learned the hard way that it’s best not to put too much faith in your SatNav when driving a lorry, but clearly one Syrian road haulage worker was not party to this advice when he went on a 1,600 mile detour! Necdet Bakimci was taking luxury cars from Turkey to Gibraltar, but his SatNav sent him and his 32 tonne lorry down a narrow lane in Skegness towards the North Sea.

Amazed onlookers enquired what he was doing, and he explained he was looking for Coral Road on Gibraltar. The confusion was said to arrive because his SatNav listed Gibraltar as British territory, so sent him towards the mainland. Fortunately, Mr Bakimci wasn’t an owner operator, so could arrange for his company to ship the cars from Birmingham and begin his long journey home – onlookers reported that he surprisingly “didn’t seem too upset.”

Queen Gets Unexpected Delivery

What happens when you name your pub the “Windsor Castle”? Well, you get a lot of delivery mixups. The pub regularly gets misdirected post, but for the first time a lorry driver’s delivery was mistakenly taken to the Queen’s residence instead of the drinking establishment! Ahead of England’s 4-1 win over Croatia, the pub had ordered 2,000 pints of lager which were – you guessed it – delivered to the actual Windsor Castle. The problem was eventually cleared up and the pub got the 12 barrels they were expecting, 3 hours later than planned. A Windsor Castle (the royal abode!) spokesman said “It was very funny. But there’s no way the Queen sits down in the evening with a pint.”

Sweet Explosion for Trucker

Finally, a lorry driver had a lucky escape after his truck caught light forcing the 60,000 cans of Ambrosia custard and rice pudding to explode “like fireworks”. He was flagged down by motorists who could see the blaze and escaped with seconds to spare before the cans went off “like thousands of gunshots.” No one was injured in the fire and the whole thing was all over in 20 minutes from the first whiff of burned sugar and smoke to the burned out remains of the truck – nobody was injured.

Lyall Cresswell is the Managing Director for the Transport Exchange Group. Haulage Exchange, their freight exchange for the 7.5 tonne and above market, offers an independent environment for its members to find that next road haulage job.