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TV Review: Ice Road Truckers

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Whatever you do for a living, it has to be more pleasant than the job chosen by the people in Ice Road Truckers, a reality series premiering on The History Channel on June 17 (10PM Eastern, 9PM Central).  The show's title says it all: to bring heavy equipment and supplies to diamond mines in Canada's Northwest Territories, truck drivers have to guide their massive machines hundreds of miles over roads made of snow and ice.  The ice roads are only usable in the winter, obviously, so the truckers work in temperatures that can reach -50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Even in the Canadian north, where the ice can freeze several feet thick on some lakes, the ice roads can only support so much weight.  When your cargo is several tons, you have to be extremely careful – not just because of the risk of sinking through the ice, but because of "blowouts" caused when truckers drive too quickly, creating waves of pressure that can burst through the ice and render the road impassable.  Even when you're not driving over frozen water, the roads can be treacherous, and it's not uncommon for jackknifed vehicles to block the road and bring the traffic, such as it is, to a complete standstill for hours at a time.

So why would anyone do this?  Money, of course – a skilled driver can make around $70,000.00 for a couple of months' work.  (Even if that's Canadian money, it's still pretty impressive, especially at today's exchange rates.)  But the work is lonely, tiresome and often very dull, and it's not uncommon for would-be drivers to drop out after a few days.

The first two episodes of Ice Road Truckers are quite fascinating, with brief segments on maintenance of the roads, salvage divers, a computer-generated "blowout" and, of course, lots of big rigs.  (Anyone who grew up on Smokey and the Bandit movies and their fathers' old Red Sovine records will appreciate this show.)  We don't learn too much about the drivers themselves, though, and Ice Road Truckers will only work as a regular series if we grow attached to them individually.  Time will tell.

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About Damian P.

  • zero

    Can anybody help me how to get job as a ice truck driver? I been driving tankers for teen years.

  • diesel jockey!

    season 2, episode 1. Hugh is working for someone else and not himself, lets hope his new boss screws him over the way he screwed his drivers over last year.

  • Mick

    It’s actually a very safe job the dangerous job is in making the ice road. There have been 3 deaths in making the ice road there was never any trucker killed and no truck went under. It is all hyped up for the tv series. I know someone that drove the ice road in the eighties and he said that it is as safe as driving on the highway. So I guess we should be calling Hugh polar bear puppy.

  • The kid

    i am an irish international artic driver and all i want to say is the job ye do is easy compared to what i do driving to italy for last ten years every week with anything up to ten drops on the trailer week after week with not much sleep try that for pure hardship

  • $70,000 is if you’re an owner/operator ~ no hired drivers make more than about $20,000. Still good pay for two months of work but not quite as sensational as the article says. My hubby has done the Tibbitt-Contwoyto road the last two winters and he and all the drivers he knows are a little unimpressed with the series.

  • jane and Tony

    Hi, Tony and I love the shows but unfortunately missed the first few shows!
    The show is probably one of the sadest but also one of the bravest shows to come to europe!
    My Family has nothing but the widest respect for all of truckers. Many writers of the message boards say they only do this for the money! Well maybe they do but they are still utterly brave and courageous. Tony and myself are hoping that they have created a magazine about this and if they do could we ask if we could buy it in the UK?
    Many thanks
    Jane and Tony

  • roger lydford

    were can i get a dvd cover. pleeeeeeeee

  • Hugh G. Ahole

    Hugh is a child. A slow minded simpleton that wants all the respect but none of the responsibility. You don’t give your employee’s faulty equipment and then blame them when it fails. You don’t put your people at risk of sever hypothermia and then blame them.

    Be a man Hugh, get off you ass and do your job, be the boss you claim you are, not the child your actions show you to be.


  • john

    The show is great,as
    trucker we all know that there is a lot more than what we see on tv.The work we need to do before we roll, is hard enough.butwith the temperature at below and counting it just doesnt give us the edge,but thats why we do what we do, we get her done…I would like to put my foot in there and just haul help me out and lets Roll. KEEP ON ROLLING GUYS..

  • Maggie

    Can’t Get enough Ice Road Truckers?
    Check out Big O and Dukes on WJFK-FM (www.wjfk.com) talking about the show and don’t miss Ice Road Truckers’ Executive Producer and Narrator, Thom Beers’ upcoming appearance on the show at 8 PM (EST) on Friday, August 31st.

  • Daisy May in WV

    I Love the show and so doesn’t my TRUCK DRIVING husband. Now he wants to try it and he has been getting a lil closer all the time. I’m not sure I like the idea of him doing this but I am also assured he can do it well. Hard To make a dime these days but I think I would rather be a few dimes short. I’ll keep my driver where the road doesn’t give away as much.

  • Yeah,Sneaky Pete,tell us who you work for,give us a chance to see the shiny wheels.



  • Mama

    I LOVE this show but I think they are all CRAZY!!Just hearing the ice cracking sends chills up and down….to me its not worth the money and I hope no one I care for ever attempts doing this.
    I’m pulling for TJ all the way just the same.

  • StarDancer

    I absolutely loved that series. Even better than Trick My Truck. Alex and Jay are true class acts. I think Drew doesn’t have a clue. How could anyone lose their whole battery box, 4 batteries, cables, and not even know it? He knew, he just didn’t have a clue. And Polar Bear was the total comedy relief. Every time he talked, i laughed. It was so funny and alot of fun to watch. I can’t wait till next season. Keep up the good work up there men. God Bless

  • Bob

    I found the series to be an interesting look at a job with a unique set of challenges. Having said that, I think they could have made a better show if they would have toned down the hype. It’s dangerous job for sure but the way they portrayed it you would think it was death waiting around every corner every moment. The constant background soundtrack of cracking ice along with shaking the camera for dramatic effect got a little tiring. You would think that stopping your running truck on the lake would be a guaranteed trip to the bottom. I thought it was ironic when they showed several rigs along with a crane sitting near the hole where the tanker trailer went in. No one seemed concerned that it might give way at any moment. I agree with the person who said that more time spent talking about the drivers and the mines would have added to the show.

  • EllieMae

    Wow, can’t believe the season is over already, can’t believe how addicted I was to it. Watched the last episode just yesterday and it absolutely rocked. At first I thought that anyone that survived a whole season up there was just lucky but now I see that it requires a lot of finese to get those machines up and down those roads over and over again. Yes there is blood, sweat and tears as well as cold and ice but there is also magic. Wasn’t it strange how that crow came to Jay? It was almost as if it was a sign he would be one of those to make it through the season, almost as if he were chosen.

  • Lars

    God, I thought my boss was a selfish asshole, but damn Hugh, you take the cake. I agree with Rick, starving is preferreable than employment with you.
    You can’t give your employees sub standard equiptment and expect them to perform for you. It
    seems they were all pretty gun ho for doing the best possible job for you at the start of the season. Its easy to be know as the best (Polar Bear) when
    you don’t have a shit truck. The accident at the end was poetic justic in my book. maybe if you slept alttle more you wounldn’t be so grumpy.

  • wolfslowrider go back to sleep huey boy IS an asshole i dont no what kind of work you do but how would you like huey boy for a boss think about it huey boy is nothing more than a selfish PUSSY and a big one at that

  • Great show!!! What a motivated and extremely dedicated grouup of “double-tough” drivers.
    I spent twenty-two years in the Navy, 8 years onboard Aircraft Carriers and 14 years in the Navy Seabees. After retiring in May 2005, I am now trucking with a Springfield, MO. based company. My girl friend turned me on to the Ice Road Trucker show last month. I told Janine that I’d like to apply for an “I R T” job, she said if I did, I’d better apply for a new girl friend too! I guess I’d better stay down here in the lower 48 states. Love the show! Please continue the series. “I R T” Fans, Kevin & Janine.

  • wolfslowrider

    This is to hugh I personally don”t think your nothing but, just being yourself and not an asshole but,just being a funny guy and a boss and i think your right about rick!an, as i watch the show! rick had plenty of times to get the heat fixed in your truck and all he did was sit around and drink! now for the other yahoos that drove for you i was stressed out, sitting there watchin the show wondering why you hadn”t fired their asses! especially DREW himself well keep up the good work hugh! an forget about what evereyone has to say about you and remember that your running a business an not looking for freinds!

  • Brad

    Greetings ice road truckers from tropical Pennsylvania!!! Really love the show! My favorite driver is Alex. He sure sets a good example on the road, and gets the job done! Every driver has their good points, so hats off to all of them! May God bless!

  • Mike

    The impressive thing about what these guys do is the temperature. Anything man-made, especially if it’s mechanical, fails when it gets too cold. I’ve seen it happen here in Chicago at 0 degrees, and I can’t imagine how much stuff would break at -40. Of course, now that the show’s been on television all over the continent, next year there will be scads of “Ice Road Groupies” who will make their way up to Yellowknife in the hopes of paying a driver to ride shotgun for a run. I wonder what Nuna and Tli Cho will think of that?

  • Rolf–business owner

    Hugh is a funny guy. I have met his type before. Tough as hell and makes no bones about it. Basically, he is an asshole. It was clear he wanted to get the most loads than anyone in the season, and did. What really irks me is that he let Drew and Alex (his best friend!) suffer in his shitty trucks while he no doubt kept the best equipment for himself. I actually think he would not have let Alex beat him if he could at all help it, and clearly he stood by and let his workers suffer. Hugh is the type of boss who cares only for himself and holds his own workers in disdain. If that is how he treats his on employees, I would hate to be the man’s costumer, much less give him any of my money. What bosses like Hugh always fail to realize is that treating one’s workers fairly is in one’s own best interest. A worker who resents you will never hesitate to fuck you over when given the chance. On the other hand, treat people with respect and they will do right by you—even when your back is turned!

  • DP

    I, too, like the show. I watch it because I like trucks. Have all my life. Jay is my favorite. For a young guy he sure seems to be “on the ball.” He’s more mature than his years would suggest. Why do you suppose he’s the one trusted with the dangerous loads? Hugh is a prick. I would like to know what his employee turnover rate is. As a business owner, if you want to make money, and Hugh makes no bones about it..he wants to make money, you have to start with your “internal customers”. Internal customers are your own employees. Hugh cannot expect his employees to buy into his philosophy by treating them in such a manner. He makes for good tv but he makes for a lousy owner. That point is proven nearly every episode.

  • khumiefindmee

    that’s what I thought to regarding TJ and his no insurance remark. If he’s Canadian and most of these guys sure sound like they are, Why don’t he have any health insurance? so if he doesn’t have any health insurance, why? is he in an exempt group?

  • Just A Lurker

    Alex is the class act of the group. Gets the job done, sets a good example, and I’d rather work for him than the “polar bear” anyway. It sounds like none of the other experienced drivers want to, either.

  • HAROLD those redneck drivers from the deep south that you desribe have more class and on the ball that HUGH ever thought about having

  • I like the show alot i watch it whenever its on but i think HUGH acts like an over grown kid and a bully he drives a decent truck and lets the other guys he hired to drive his hand me downs trucks that break down all the time and one with no heat and then has the nerve to blame the other guys for the trucks breaking down.He should get off his rear end and drive one of his rejects and ALEX seems to me like a pillar of society keep going ALEX i hope you make it all and then some safely

  • Kenny D.

    OOOPs my previous comment i meant to say……….
    “I’m glad the show is on, so ew can see more of the job done”

  • Kenny D.

    Ice Road Truckers…It’s a damn good program. I’ve had an interest in doing this for the past 10 years now, I’m glad the show is, so we can more of the job.
    I don’t understand “dougs” comment (way up there ^) the one that says he was hoping see to more about the diamond mines. They may show more but perhaps on another show called “The Diamond Mines”
    I haul TANKERS (FUEL) and thats what I’d like to try. A possible reason we’ve seen more or less, the tankers breaking through, well let’s just remember they are hauling about 4x’s the normal.

  • joseph francis

    how do i apply 2 get a job as an ice trucker

  • Hey Sneaky Pete….just one question….who do YOU work for and how do I apply????!!!

  • My favorit driver is hugh he reminds me of those hard tough red neck back in the seventy in the deep south. I like to watch more of this show next year.

  • Lilli

    I watch the show every Sunday. I was so upset that Drew chose to quit. He seemed like a hard working man. You know they say, you are only as good as the equipment you have to work with, and his equipment kept breaking down. Comments were continually made that it was his own fault, and clearly the first mishap of putting the truck in a ditch, and the last of running out of fuel were things he should take responsibility for. But all the mishaps in the middle were clearly not driver error, but in fact due to faulty equipment. Each one of Hugh’s trucks (except his own that he drives) is a break down waiting to happen. Each one of Hugh’s trucks had mechanical problems, except the one he drives. An oil change and tire replacement is common. I think I would not have quit, but instead I would have asked Hugh to drive my truck (since he owns it), and let me drive his. In order to prove a point.

  • sckop

    The Last program I watched had a driver suffer a maedical problem that required him to be treated at a hospital.
    Upon release and returned to work they showed him with bill and the comment that he had NO insurance.
    The quest comes to mind that in a country that has every liberal politican pushin for universal health care provided by the government and useing Canada of a country that has this in place, how come he has no insurance coverage?

  • dorothy lomax


  • Jerry

    I have found this program somewhat interesting, although you seem to show the same people each week. Why can’t you make the Ice Road part much wider so two or even three Trucks can drive on the Ice at the same time. From what I have seen they should put the tankers in a slow lane or at the end of the row every day. I have seen two wrecks and they are both Tankers. I rest my case?????

  • billy joe jeffries

    Ice road Truckers while fascinating is another example of pure greed and avarice. People putting thier lives at risk all for the sake of some shiny baubles. Almost completly unnecessary, with the exception of some industrial uses of diamonds, these mines are just to make fat cats richer. Pointless ugly greed.

  • Kev

    I find the show quite fascinating. I have a high level of respect for those guys and what they do. I’ve only have a couple years of trucking experience myself, but once I get a few more years in I would love to try drive on the Ice Roads… as much for the experience as for the money.

  • big jim

    i think loggers and equipment haulers that battle the rugged high snowy mountains and icy terrains are farmore hard core drivers than ice road trucks with loud vulgar mouths.

  • Sneaky Pete

    Ice road trucking seems to be a lot of hard work
    and a lot more rules to follow. The alure of a big pay check seems to draw these drivers back every year. Unless there is something I don’t know about, taking into concideration all of the down time due to accidents and break-downs, they are not making as much as it may seem. I make that kind of money and I work in a pair of shorts,t-shirt and all brand new equipment. The truck I drive you could shave your face in any of the polished aluminum wheels or tanks. Forget about the chrome you need special eye protection to look at it. Now thats trucking!

  • Kevin LaCroix

    I would like to try that job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I’ve been driving 17yrs, this looks like a great challenge.

  • If you think the show is compelling, you should try the Ice Road Truckers video game.

  • I like the show! I was hoping the program would show more about the diamond mines themselves, maybe later in the season? I noticed the program talks mostly about the mining operations in Yellowknife. The DeBeers operation at Snap Lake (not far from Yellowknife )is their first venture outside of Africa and when completed will be their largest underground mine complex. Those guys are pretty secretive,, so I doubt we will see much about it.