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Centerline Road Warrior: Shaun Donovan

by Charlotte Freed | Nov 30, 2018

Shaun Donovan Centerline Driver
When the average, ordinary person thinks of a high-stress, safety-pertinent job that causes adrenaline rushes, they might think of a firefighter, police officer, or soldier. It might be surprising to hear that a professional driver may encounter some of the same experiences that can cause stress physically, emotionally, and mentally. Shaun Donovan, a professional driver for fifteen years with trucking in his blood, gave us insights into life behind the wheel and the industry we know so well.

Shaun was practically raised on a big rig, saying “I remember I was like four, five, six years old playing around on a heavy tow truck when I was a kid. I was kinda destined to be a driver.” Post-World War II, Shaun’s Great Uncle started a tow-truck company and operated it until one of Sean’s cousins sold the business soon after 2000. Another cousin then started his own tow truck company, adopting the black and gold aesthetic of his Great Uncle’s company w continues to operate it successfully.

Even after being immersed in the industry for much of his life, Shaun appreciates what a different type of work it is, contrasting truck driving with an office or retail job. Shaun describes how crucial it is that he stays dedicated to the work one-hundred-percent. “It’s not like the glitz and glamour of what TV makes it out today”, describing times where he’s had to exit situations before they escalated to dangerous levels. On the other side of the coin, there are also hours of boredom. To deal with these types of shifts, “you’ve got to be committed.”

Shaun also describes the emotional and mental aspect of the job, saying that while compassion is necessary, so is the importance of being able to turn off your emotions. Otherwise, the work he specifically encounters as a tow truck driver could be “devastating.” He calls it a “light-switch” mentality, explaining that when he turns up on the scene of an accident or repossess cars he cannot be emotionally involved. At just thirty-five years old, Shaun speaks with the authority and understanding of a wizened veteran trucker. He tells of the times he’s arrived to the scene of an accident involving someone he grew up with, or the strangeness of handling a friend’s car after a crash. Shaun has seen cars – and sometimes their drivers – riddled with bullet holes. There have been other instances where he witnessed victims of overdose in their vehicles. Shaun has encountered some “gruesome” things, and says that they’re second to what some people might see in battle or on a crime scene. Shaun admits that his work can take a toll, particularly if he holds onto thoughts for too long or brings the encounters of work home.

Being a driver has taught Shaun many things, including being prepared for anything, at all times. Whether surveying different areas he’s in to gauge their safety or being keenly aware of his surroundings, particularly other drivers, he needs to be alert.  He’s seen commuters commit dangerous moves like cutting off traffic or stopping short in front of trucks. This is seriously concerning, as he appreciates the weight, physically and metaphorically, that truckers carry with their rigs. “We have to make sure every side of the truck is good, as far as changing lanes, taking turns, following distance…road conditions, weather conditions: [there are] so many variables as a truck driver that you have to be responsible for, making sure that you get home every night and everybody else home every day.” Situational awareness isn’t the only important thing to remember. Self-awareness and care is just as critical, reminding workers to “have a day off and reset your clock,” because you’re in charge of an “80,000 pound missile” driving down the highway.

It’s more than just a good thing that Shaun is such a stickler for preparedness, it’s essential for the type of driving he does. Shaun has worked in the Mobile Division of Centerline, which allows him to find jobs driving in cities and states all across the country, without the toll of over-the-road shifts. As a Mobile Driver, Shaun chooses the states he wants to work in, and is dispatched to work with companies who can’t find strong, qualified drivers in their areas, yet need to complete their projects or keep operations moving. While there are the usual difficulties of travel, Shaun describes most of his time as a Centerline Mobile Driver as being an ideal way to shift away from over-the-road routes and visit places he’s never been to. He describes enjoying the change of scenery and the people he’s met, some who continue to make an impact on him. Shaun shares, “I think it’s a great opportunity for people to actually go to different states, do what they want…some guys were just looking at it as a paycheck. I look at our career…I’m third generation truck driver; it’s a career, it’s a lifestyle.”

A lifestyle, indeed – and Shaun demonstrates a commitment to the lifestyle that is motivating. Shaun gives a stern, yet thoughtful, reminder to his fellow drivers both new and seasoned. They may be words passed down through generations of trucking, or simply come from his own experiences: “Driving itself is a privilege; you have the highest available license to drive anything in the world in the palm of your hand. Don’t mess it up.”

Shaun ended our conversation with an important reminder to his fellow road warriors, “America and the world relies on you truck drivers.” We are glad to say we agree, and honored to know that it’s true.

Written by Anna Mischke


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  1. Ed Jewell | Dec 07, 2018

    I do it part Time now been at it 25years with rigs its in your blood

    either you got it or dont and if you dont an accident

    is around the corner for you. I  guess you can say its an innate quality that is programmed in you. Centerline

    is Great if you have experience and semi- retired.

  2. Bruce Mackie | Dec 03, 2018
    Ya I remember 36 of driving which I played with big truck and heavy driving been my life since 17 yrs old 

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