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Driving truck, and then just driving

When I used to look for summer jobs, I always thought it would be instructive, if not entirely profound, to drive truck. I knew a few kids who had satisfied the CDL paperwork and suddenly boasted routes up and down I-5 transporting garlic and tomatoes. But the convenience of service jobs abounded, and I never got around to climbing aboard a rig; however, the romance of the job lingered until various high school classmates and then a member of my family joined the fleet and could properly devastate my illusions of the itinerant life. I had envisioned my career on the road as similar to an Altman film (more Nashville than Short Cuts), but the reported facts held me in a snare...

For the people I knew, driving truck involved abject loneliness, emotional eating, and a codependent relationship with The Flying J. I didn't even really get that you just slept in your truck, which perhaps lessened the glamor (I have a thing for hotels--the cheaper the better). So to better understand my beloved truckers, I began reading trucker blogs, such as Adventures in Trucking and Truck Driver Blog. I wanted to know how they kept themselves awake, conscious, sentient while driving such distances--I certainly have issues with road stamina, but could I improve it if trucking were my career? According to statistics, maybe not:

  • A 1995 National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) study found that of 107 heavy truck crashes, fatigue was a prominent factor in 75% of the run-off-the-road crashes, with 68% of long-haul drivers and 49% of short haul drivers suffering fatigue-related crashes. Working long shifts not only radically increases the risk of performance errors due to lost alertness and drowsiness, but it also impairs a trucker's ability to gain proper restorative sleep even when they have sufficient off-duty time for sleep. (Federal Highway Administration or FHWA, 1997)
  • The rist of a crash effectively doubles from the eighth to the tenth hour of driving, and doubles again from the tenth to the eleventh hour of driving alone. (FMCSA, 2000).

I'm not sure how many of you out there drive truck for a living, or know people who do, but I'm sure most of us have dealt with road fatigue. How do you stay awake? I have to listen--almost exclusively--to country (maybe it's the conspicuous narrative) and then if that doesn't work then some piston-esque energy drink and lots of deep breathing. When the breathing gets shallow and long on the exhale, you'd better pull off the road and get your Flying J on.

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Here Are the Best and Worst Days for Christmas Travel
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Flight delays are always a hassle, but the holidays add an extra layer of stress. No one wants to be stuck at the airport while their family is digging into Christmas dinner. And even if you fly long before the holiday itself, airports are always more hectic during the holiday season. Between the high volume of travelers and the whims of winter weather, getting off the ground doesn’t necessarily feel like a given when you leave for the airport.

But not all airports and days are equally prone to flight issues, according to U.S. Bureau of Transportation data from the last five years, as analyzed by the electric supply company Elite Fixtures, which previously analyzed the worst airports for Thanksgiving travel.

A green chart lists travel delays and flight cancellation statistics by date.
Elite Fixtures

On average, you’re less likely to be delayed if you’re traveling the week before Christmas or on the holiday itself, the data shows. December 25 has actually had the lowest percentage (18 percent) of delayed flights over the last five years, giving you a good excuse if you want to flee to the airport directly after your family’s holiday meal. Traveling December 18 and 19 is also a good idea, since only 26 percent of flights are typically delayed on those days.

A red chart details travel delay and cancellation statistics by date.
Elite Fixtures

Beware the 22nd and 23rd of December, though. On those days, an average of 32 percent and 34 percent of flights get delayed, respectively. The few days after Christmas are also likely to stick you with an annoying delay—33 and 34 percent of flights are delayed on the 26th and 27th.

A green-and-gray U.S. map highlights the 10 best airports for holiday travel with plane icons.
Elite Fixtures

Airlines don’t encounter flight difficulties in equal measure across all airports, though. If you’re flying through one of the airports above, congratulations! The likelihood of getting delayed is less than at the Houston or Oakland airports, both hubs with the highest rates of holiday flight delays in the U.S.

Unfortunately, no matter what day you fly and where you fly from, there's no way to really predict whether your flight will leave on time. You'll just have to hope that Santa brings you the seamless holiday travel experience you put on your Christmas list.

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Mapped: The 10 Airports Where You’re Most Likely to Get Stuck Over Thanksgiving
William Thomas Cain/Getty Images
William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Every year, some unlucky Americans end up stranded at U.S. airports trying to get home for Thanksgiving. But your risk of getting stuck at the airport for hours on end varies depending on where you’re flying. Using five years of data from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Elite Fixtures collected statistics on the worst airports to travel through around the Thanksgiving holiday, a time when airports are traditionally at their busiest.

The results show that delays aren't necessarily tied to the airports where the weather tends to be worst or those that see the most passengers. What airline you are flying, whether you’re on a regional flight, and the route you’re traveling can all affect your likelihood of getting stuck, and so the percentage of short-haul flights or the number of, say, Delta flights out of a certain airport might affect its overall score negatively. Still, you might want to avoid airports like Chicago’s Midway or the Oakland airport. Good luck with Houston or Dallas, too.

Below, the 10 worst:

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